The Weekly: New Regulations, Blackrock Probes Market, Coinbase Gets Into Politics

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The Weekly: New Regulations, Blackrock Probes Market, Coinbase Gets Into Politics

In this week’s daily editions of Bitcoin in Brief, we showcased stories about politicians trying to enforce their will on the cryptocurrency ecosystem around the world, thus pushing companies that are big enough to join the money-in-politics game.

Also Read: Malta Stock Exchange to Develop Two New Platforms for Security Tokens

Bitmain Expands R&D in Israel

On Monday, we reported that Bitmain Technologies Ltd., the Beijing-headquartered bitcoin mining hardware (ASIC chips) producer, plans to expand its research and development center in Israel and expects to triple its workforce in the country. Bitmain explained that it would recruit more than 40 researchers, programmers, engineers and marketing personnel to its development center in Ra’anana, to be added to the 15 employees there today. And in exchange-related news, we reported that Poloniex launched an official mobile app and Cobinhood added USD fiat trading.

Blackrock Probes Market

The Weekly: New Regulations, Blackrock Probes Market, Coinbase Gets Into PoliticsBlackrock, the world’s largest asset manager with over $6 trillion in assets under management, made headlines on Tuesday by probing the crypto market. Reports have popped up the day before that the company has created a ‘working group’ to explore how it can take advantage of the hot new alternative investment instruments. CEO denied that Blackrock is setting up any crypto trading capabilities or received demand for it from its clients. However, he did confirm that the company is studying the performance of cryptocurrencies to be prepared for the eventuality in the future. In other interesting news, Bitpay was granted a New York Bitlicense and Coinbase claimed to get an approval from SEC and FINRA for its securities license acquisition – a claim it later walked back from.

Jersey Introduces Requirements for ICO Projects

On Wednesday, we reported that the Financial regulator of Jersey, the UK self-governing dependency, has introduced requirements for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). A new ‘guidance note’ document listed a number of requirements that apply to ICO issuers and described certain procedures and processes that should be followed in order to mitigate and manage the risks for retail investors. Projects are expected to apply anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing measures as well as inform investors about the risks.

Anti-Crypto Politician Backed by Payments Firm

The Weekly: New Regulations, Blackrock Probes Market, Coinbase Gets Into PoliticsOn Thursday, we reported about US Representative Brad Sherman (Democrat-California) who blasted cryptocurrencies at a House Financial Services Committee hearing entitled “The Future of Money: Digital Currency”. Members of the community were quick to point out that his top financial contributor for 2017-2018 is Allied Wallet – a payments processor offering credit card, ACH and other services that stand to lose out from wider cryptocurrency adoption.

“We should prohibit U.S. persons from buying or mining cryptocurrencies,” Rep. Sherman proclaimed. “Mining alone uses electricity which takes away from other needs and-or adds to the carbon footprint. As a store [of value], as a medium of exchange, cryptocurrency accomplishes nothing except facilitating narcotics trafficking, terrorism, and tax evasion.”

Belarus’ New Standards for Crypto Exchanges

On Friday, we reported that, having legalized crypto-related activities earlier this year, Belarus is now fine-tuning and expanding the regulatory framework. The Hi-Tech Park in Minsk (HTP) is currently developing standards for companies operating crypto exchanges and providers of services related to issuing and placement of tokens. According to local media reports, state bodies and representatives of the legal and tech communities in the country are involved in the process. The new set of rules and regulations is intended to supplement the basic framework outlined in the presidential decree. A legal expert added that entities in the field will be obliged to prove charter capital of at least $500,000.

Coinbase Dives Into Swamp

The Weekly: New Regulations, Blackrock Probes Market, Coinbase Gets Into PoliticsThe big news on Saturday was that Coinbase has formed its own political action committee in order to raise money that can be spent on American elections. The company needs to keep US regulators off its back so it can continue to operate as a crypto exchange in the land of the free, and one day soon list securities as well. Having a political lobby that promotes its interests is an obvious move for a company that makes as much money as Coinbase, but one that smaller ventures won’t be able to match.

Peter Schiff: BTC Will Plummet

The most commented-on article during the week covered the recent appearance by the noted gold bug and bitcoin skeptic Peter Schiff on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast. Schiff blasted the world’s most popular decentralized money, insisted that a recent debate between him and the CEO of Shapeshift on the subject was rigged, and explained why he believes BTC’s price will crash further to $1,000 and lower. Join the discussion.

This Week in Bitcoin Podcast

Catch the rest of this week’s news in the This Week in Bitcoin podcast with host Matt Aaron.

What other stories in the Bitcoin world caught your attention this week? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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UK Police Top up Budget With Proceeds From Sale of Seized BTC

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UK Police Top up Budget With Proceeds From Sale of Seized BTC

A UK police department has sold 295 BTC which they say were legally seized from a drug dealer. The court ordered him to forfeit his crypto stored in a hardware wallet. The police reportedly get to keep 18.8% of the sale proceeds.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

British Police Seized BTC from Drug Dealer

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the principal public prosecuting agency for conducting criminal prosecutions in England and Wales, unveiled this week the details of a case involving 295 BTC. The CPS wrote:

A drug dealer and money launderer who was using cryptocurrency to conceal his funds has had over £1.2 million [~US$1.6 million] worth of bitcoins seized, restrained and then converted into British pounds in the first case of its kind.

UK Police Top up Budget With Proceeds From Sale of Seized BTC
Sergejs Teresko.

Sergejs Teresko, a 31-year-old Latvian, was arrested on suspicion of money laundering and drug offenses in April last year. A “cannabis factory,” a number of fake identification cards, luxury goods such as jewelry and Rolex watches, gold bars, expensive cars and large sums of cash were found at his home in Surrey, a county in southeast England.

He pleaded guilty on October 6 “to one count of being knowingly concerned in the production of a controlled drug, one count of possessing criminal property, one count of possession of articles for use in frauds and six counts possession of an identity document with improper intention,” the CPS detailed.

Teresko “was later convicted of money laundering and drug offenses at Kingston Crown Court where he was sentenced to nine years, three months in prison,” the agency noted:

In total, Teresko was found to have made £2,058,613 [~$2,703,578] from his crimes with an available amount of £1,447,935 [~$1,901,574] to pay back. He was given three months to pay the order or would have to spend a further 10 years in prison.

Kingston Crown Court ruled on Thursday that Teresko must forfeit the £1,447,935 “of his ill-gotten gains, including bitcoin,” the Financial Times reported.

Keepkey Wallet Found

According to Surrey Live, a Keepkey hardware wallet was found at Teresko’s home. Surrey Police then secured a warrant to access the device. DI Rob Bryant of South East Regional Organised Crime Unit was quoted by the news outlet:

We didn’t think we were going to actually find anything in these wallets. We thought we would open them and there’d be nothing there.

The cops, however, found two wallets on the device. The first did not contain anything but the second had 295 BTC. When they found out the coins’ worth, “the colour started to drain from a number of faces,” the publication quoted Bryant saying.

The Independent elaborated:

Surrey Police has now become the first UK force to successfully seize bitcoin, convert it into sterling and be granted permission by a court to keep the cash for government and police coffers.

Police Can Keep 18.8%

Using “powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act,” Surrey Police seized Teresko’s coins, the CPS revealed.

UK Police Top up Budget With Proceeds From Sale of Seized BTCCiting BTC’s “extreme volatility and the risk of it being moved on or stolen,” the cops applied to the court to seize the coins and convert them into sterling, Surrey Live described. They convinced the judge that “bitcoin was a real thing that could be seized,” the news outlet wrote.

The CPS explained that it “applied to have the restrained bitcoins converted into pounds. The 295 bitcoins were then sold by Surrey Police through an approved bitcoin exchange.”

According to the Financial Times, the police “set up its own bitcoin wallet and then used an offshore exchange to transfer and convert” the seized BTC. The proceeds were then “transferred to a police bank account,” the publication added:

Surrey Police gets to keep 18.8 percent of the proceeds of Teresko’s crimes — about £273,000 — which the force can use to top up its operating budget.

What do you think of this case? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Surrey Police.


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New BATM Supporting BTC, BCH Launches in Sofia

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New BATM Supporting BTC, BCH Launches in Sofia

A crypto teller machine exchanging a number of cryptocurrencies with fiat, including bitcoin (BTC) and bitcoin cash (BCH), will be operational next week in a Sofia mall. The BATM is a two-way device that will accept euro, dollar and Bulgarian lev deposits. It will also buy cryptos and print paper wallets.  

Also read: Eastern Europe: Regulation Postponed, Tax Abandoned, Banks Enlightened

Two-Way Bitcoin ATM in Sofia

The new BATM will be available to residents and visitors of Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, from Monday. The teller machine supports two-way transactions for several cryptocurrencies including bitcoin (BTC), bitcoin cash (BCH), ethereum (ETH), litecoin (LTC), and monero (XMR). The cryptos can be bought with EUR, USD, and BGN, the local fiat currency. The device is installed in The Mall, one of the popular shopping centers in Sofia located on the way from the airport to the city’s center.

New BATM Supporting BTC, BCH Launches in SofiaThe crypto ATM is operated by a local exchange, DG Cash, which shared the news of the launch on social media. “The exchange rates of the cryptocurrencies applied at the ATM are almost identical to the ‘We Buy’ and ‘We Sell’ rates on our website, and the commission we collect is approximately 3% of the market price as it is included in the exchange rate,” the trading platform detailed in a Facebook post.

According to the announcement, the limit for a single transaction is set at 10,000 BGN (~€5,100 EUR, $6,000 USD). Users can buy any of the supported cryptos by depositing euros, dollars, or Bulgarian levs. When selling, however, they’ll receive only BGN. The interface of the device supports Bulgarian, English and Spanish among other languages. In case someone wants to purchase digital coins but does not have an electronic wallet, the device can generate a paper wallet.

The BATM at The Mall is not the only one in the Bulgarian capital. The first crypto teller machine in Sofia was installed in 2014, in the Interpred office building. It is a buy only device selling bitcoin (BTC) at 4% over the average price at Bitpay, Kraken, and Bitstamp, and it has a daily limit of 5,000 BGN. Another two-way ATM was installed in the downtown Coffee Bar The White, in 2015.

Bulgaria’s Crypto Woes

Bulgarian crypto exchanges have been through some turbulent times recently due to a bank clampdown that culminated in December last year. The teams operating the local trading platforms have been trying to adapt to a situation in which many banks refuse to open accounts to companies dealing in cryptocurrency. DG Cash, the operator of the new BATM, maintains only crypto-cash trading services. Both on its website and its Facebook page, the exchange claims it has two offices – in Sofia, and in Sliema, Malta, where it also plans to install a crypto ATM.

New BATM Supporting BTC, BCH Launches in SofiaIn the past several months, all major Bulgarian exchanges have experienced difficulties and interruptions in their operations. Crypto.bg was affected by Fibank’s decision to quit providing services to crypto traders. The popular exchange was closed down for weeks and since it reopened it’s been mostly working with payment processors like Epay and Cashterminal. Another leading platform that managed to maintain operations throughout the crisis, Xchange.bg, has been forced to change its bank accounts several times. Other platforms have reported similar issues.

The clampdown happened in the absence of comprehensive regulations for the country’s growing crypto sector. However, the Bulgarian Financial Supervision Commission recently decided to start monitoring the fintech industry and the situation may change soon. A newly adopted strategy proposes the introduction of requirements for licensing and registration of companies operating in the sector.

Do you think Bitcoin ATMs help to increase the popularity and accessibility of cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Indian Central Bank Makes a Case Before Supreme Court Against Allowing Crypto Use

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Indian Central Bank Makes a Case Before Supreme Court Against Allowing Crypto Use

India’s central bank told the country’s supreme court on Friday that “allowing dealings in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin would encourage illegal transactions.” Other crypto petitions being heard include one asking the government to “take emergency steps to restrain the sale and purchase of illegal cryptocurrencies.”

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

RBI’s Argument

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the country’s central bank, appeared before the supreme court Friday to defend its position regarding cryptocurrencies. RBI issued a circular on April 6 banning financial institutions under its control from providing services to crypto companies.

According to the Economic Times, the central bank told the court:

Allowing dealings in cryptocurrencies like bitcoins would encourage illegal transactions and it has already issued a circular prohibiting use of these virtual currencies.

Indian Central Bank Makes a Case Before Supreme Court Against Allowing Crypto UseRBI explained that crypto is “a stateless digital currency” that operates independently of a central bank such as itself, thereby “rendering it immune from government interference,” the news outlet noted.

The Financial Express elaborated that the central bank believes “it is necessary to regulate the bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to check illegal transactions which will impact the international flow of funds.” Senior counsel Shyam Divan, appearing for RBI, reiterated that the central bank has a particular stance and other departments may have other positions.

Petitions Being Heard

Petitions against the RBI crypto banking ban are not the only ones that the supreme court is hearing. The Economic Times described:

Some petitions challenged the use of virtual currencies and alleged that they posed grave dangers to the traditional economy and they also sought framing of guidelines to regulate them … They also sought a direction for the Centre to take emergency steps to restrain the sale and purchase of illegal cryptocurrencies.

Indian Central Bank Makes a Case Before Supreme Court Against Allowing Crypto UseThe Hindu pointed to one particular petition, filed by father and son Siddharth Dalmia and Vijay Pal Dalmia. “Mr. Dalmia, in his plea, has sought a direction to the Centre to take steps to restrain sale and purchase of illegal cryptocurrencies like bitcoins, which were being traded openly for ‘illegal activities’ like funding terrorism and insurgency,” the publication wrote.

The supreme court already heard the duo’s initial petition in November last year and subsequently issued notices to various government departments including RBI. The central bank responded at the time that it had warned people against the usage and risks associated with crypto. However, the Dalmias were not happy with RBI’s reply and filed a new petition, pointing out the inadequate action by the central bank.

At the hearing on Friday, the supreme court gave the government until September 11 to respond to all petitions.

What do you think of RBI’s view and action? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and RBI.


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Altcoins Are Dying

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Altcoins Are Dying

Anyone unacquainted with the cryptocurrency market might assume, casually reading the price of bitcoin in their morning paper, that the past seven days have been good for investors. BTC is up 18% in a week and is now hovering around the $7,400 mark. By any reckoning, that’s good going. But bitcoin’s recent show of strength belies turmoil within the crypto markets. Many altcoins aren’t just down in BTC terms: they’re dying a slow death by 1,000 red wicks.

Also read: Big-Name Insurers Stepping Up Their Crypto Game

Alts Are Submerged in a Bloodbath

Altcoins Are DyingIt’s been a mixed week for cryptocurrency investors. While BTC has been on fire, altcoins have been withering and dying, with lower lows, lower trade volume, and little by way of hope for their increasingly desperate bagholders. Telegram trading groups have been filled with pink wojaks and rekt memes as traditional support levels have fallen and price floors have been shattered. The weekly charts, in which gains and losses can be easily distorted by singular events, do not prevent a true picture of the state of altcoins right now. Zooming out to a monthly view provides a clearer picture. In addition to BTC, stellar and cardano – two assets shortlisted for inclusion on Coinbase – are in the green. Virtually every other asset has been subjected to deep, double-digit cuts.

Bitcoin’s dominance now stands at around 45%, the highest it has been since April. Part of its resurgence can be attributed to anticipation of impending SEC approval for an ETF, against a backdrop of increased institutional adoption. It figures that when bitcoin rallies, the rest of the market will suffer. While this fact can account for some of the slippage of the past few days, it does not explain the decline that virtually all crypto assets have suffered since the start of the year. BTC is down 63% from its all-time high, a figure which seems relatively benign when compared to the losses of other major cryptocurrencies.

Altcoins Are Dying
Most altcoins have posted major losses over the past month.

Smart Money is Rejecting Dumb Coins

Ripple and tron are down 88% from their ATH, cardano down 87%, and dash down 85%. The mania of January, when the entire market was convinced that their anointed altcoin was heading to the moon and staying there, has long since subsided. At the time, it was suggested by certain publications including this one that many of those investing in high supply coins may not fully understand concepts such as digital scarcity. Investors were fixated on the price per coin, rather than the value of the coin when adjusted for total circulating supply.

Altcoins Are Dying
The fate of dentacoin, a cryptocurrency for the dental industry, encapsulates the madness of January and subsequent decline that has characterized the altcoin market.

The subsequent downfall of altcoins that were mainstream media darlings at the start of the year, ripple, iota, and tron among them, can be attributed, in part, to novice investors getting scared off once the bear market kicked in with a vengeance. The resurgence of bitcoin in recent weeks, and the inability of altcoins to rally with it, owes something to rookie investors who got burned staying away, while smart money that was previously watching from the sidelines has begun to enter. These entities weren’t about to buy BTC when it was trading at an all-time high, but they’ll take a look now, having missed the boat the first time around. None of them, it seems, are interested in altcoins however, despite the fact that many are trading at a 5x discount. Institutional investors may be cautious, but they’re not foolish.

Do you think altcoins such as ripple and iota will ever surpass their ATH when the crypto market recovers? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Bitcoin (Almost) Everywhere: 5 Crypto Debit Cards Worth Checking Out

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Bitcoin (Almost) Everywhere: 5 Crypto Debit Cards Worth Checking Out

Mass, mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies might take a route few original cadres of developers and enthusiasts imagined — major payment processing, plastic debit cards. They’re incredibly handy for those wishing to use crypto while merchant adoption works itself out. Here are five such cards to consider: Wirex, Bitpay, Cryptopay, Xapo, and Shift.  

Also read: World Cup Goes Crypto!

5 Crypto Debit Cards Worth Checking Out

Significant strains of the broader crypto community (strident veterans of an ideological bent) chafe at cryptocurrency debit cards. They do in large part because such cards are in bed with sworn enemies, legacy banking: Visa, Mastercard. Indeed, it is the height of irony the very institutions crypto was designed to thwart are arguably crypto’s most popular onboarding forms.

Bitcoin (Almost) Everywhere: 5 Crypto Debit Cards Worth Checking Out

Wirex: A well known company, Wirex has a solid customer base. Along with virtual products, it offers a pin card. It also is notorious for fees, and they add up. And while no company is ever guaranteed to stay solvent, something to consider is shelf life (they tend to come and go). Wirex seems well poised for the longer term: Spring of last year it received confidence funding in the low millions from SBI Group, a prominent Japanese financial player. It has nearly one million customers spread out through most countries, with about a billion dollars in transaction volume last year. This year they’ve added litecoin, and they basically pioneered contactless debit cards in the space. The regular fees are pretty similar to other cards, hovering around 3% for international transactions, $2.50 for withdrawals, $17 to purchase a physical card.

For most everyone else, crypto’s slow merchant adoption is a giant pain in the ass. No matter how much one loves crypto and its potential, people need food, clothing, tchotkes. And, no, the fact your brother has a hat store, or the fact that random pizza parlor down the street accepts crypto, are not immediate solutions. A person can only have so many hats and eat so much of your brother’s greasy pizza.

Bitcoin (Almost) Everywhere: 5 Crypto Debit Cards Worth Checking Out

Bitpay: Another well regarded provider is Bitpay. Its card is accepted the globe over, though it’s only available to US residents. No chip and pin, so verification is needed. Simple KYC, AML identification is mando, so all one needs is a government issued ID, street address, and Social Security number. The card is available in all US states. It’s loaded through a separate wallet client, prepaid. They use Visa, and for around 10 bucks USD a physical card will be sent along. Outside the US, a 3% fee is placed on all currency conversions (along with $3 for any outside the US withdrawals). Withdrawals in the US vary from bank to bank in terms of fees. Using it is a snap, very convenient. Withdrawal limits are generous.

Crypto debit cards, then, are a splitting the baby, kissing your sister kind of way to advance money’s future while still being able to enjoy life’s material pleasures. Done right, crypto debit schemes go anywhere major payment providers, such as Visa and Mastercard, are accepted. At the very least, they’re a nice hedge.

Bitcoin (Almost) Everywhere: 5 Crypto Debit Cards Worth Checking Out

Cryptopay: Like Wirex, they offer virtual and physical cards. It is available around the globe. It can also be a little fee laden with load fees and maintenance fees, etc. It’s, of course, a Bitcoin debit card. Its selling feature is lack of personal verification. They might require more if limits are increased, however, above a couple thousand dollars. The card is right around $15, withdrawals are $2.5, and they charge 3% on international transactions.

Scouring the known crypto debit world, those presented are by no means exhaustive. Such cards are designed to help anyone inclined to get started. There are many others, as the market sees them popping up all the time. If these don’t live up to your standards, there are, again, plenty others.

Xapo: Xapo is most everywhere, and has a solid reputation among enthusiasts. It too was an earlier mover in the space. No chip and pin standard, though it’s offered. The cost of the card is roughly $20, and it carries an annual fee. Like most other cards, so long as users stay under about $2,500 in withdrawal limits, fees are relatively tame.

Bitcoin (Almost) Everywhere: 5 Crypto Debit Cards Worth Checking Out

Shift: Easily connects to your Coinbase account, relatively low fees. Available only in 45 states around the US, Coinbase is limited to certain countries as well. Shift position themselves as “the first US Bitcoin debit card”. The card costs a reasonable $10 to produce and has no ongoing fees. There is of course the standard 3% international transaction fee and $2.5 flat ATM withdrawal fee.

Disclaimer: Bitcoin.com does not endorse nor support these products/services. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the mentioned company or any of its affiliates or services. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article.

What bitcoin debit card do you use? Let us know in the comments section below. 


Images via Pixabay.


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Wendy McElroy: Other Than the Black Market, a Last Stand for Economic Freedom

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Other Than the Black Market, a Last Stand for Economic Freedom

The Satoshi Revolution: A Revolution of Rising Expectations
Section 4: State Versus Society
Chapter 9, Part 5
Crypto: Other Than The Black Market, A Last Stand For Economic Freedom?

Money…is the economic area most encrusted and entangled with centuries of government meddling. Many people, many economists, usually devoted to the free market stop short at money. Money, they insist, is different; it must be supplied by government and regulated by government. They never think of state control of money as interference in the free market; a free market in money is unthinkable to them. Historically, money was one of the first things controlled by government, and the free market “revolution” of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries made very little dent in the monetary sphere. So it is high time that we turn fundamental attention to the life-blood of our economy—money.

-Murray Rothbard, “What Has Government Done to Our Money?

Envisioning free-market crypto should be easy because cryptocurrency was created on the free market, and it remains unregulated in many places. How difficult is it for a person to envision what is standing in front of his or her own eyes? Coins like Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash are success stories for all to see.

Unfortunately, governments also see it. They recognize crypto as a fierce competitor to their own fiat monopolies, their tax systems, and a relatively untapped source of wealth. To control crypto, however, government cannot praise the phenomenon; government needs to demonize crypto by creating public hysteria over problems both real (fraud) and manufactured (links to terrorism). Rest assured, if crypto was an economic Satan rather than a business sensation, governments around the world would not be salivating and scheming about how to co-opt the industry. To do so, they paint crypto as a ‘good’ that is currently rife with abuses, which only governments can solve. The free market has failed, they claim.

Pressure from government is increasing. As cryptocurrency becomes more accepted as money, the cry for regulation grows. A recent report from the trading giant eToro and the Imperial College London claimed, “Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin offer a viable evolutionary ‘next step’ for money and have the potential to become a mainstream form of payment within the next decade.” The report stated that regulation was a necessary prerequisite for such an evolution.

And most people will listen to the call for regulation because they believe a government monopoly makes money safer for them to use—at least, safer than free-market money, which they do not understand. Of course, the opposite is true. Government money gives those in power an iron control of the economy, and that arrangement never ends well for the average person. By contrast, the free market panders to customers who are the source of profit. How many government restaurants would allow people to send meals back to the kitchen for a replacement? How many have a “no questions asked” return policy on goods or services?

The free market also provides goods and services, including money, more efficiently than government. For one thing, competition forces companies to be efficient in order to achieve the low prices that attract customers. The free market also expresses far greater morality because it is based on voluntary exchanges, while the government consists of coercion.

Nevertheless, money is considered to be a “special” case that requires government intervention because money is essential to the functioning of a healthy society. But so is food. And, yet, the free market provides a cornucopia of groceries from around the world at affordable prices. Most people can walk to stores with a bounty for sale. It is difficult to imagine a government managing a similar food chain; indeed, the governments that have tried have produced rationing, famines, black markets, and soaring prices on the essentials of life.

Hysteria is a standard fall-back position for those who wish to obscure reality. And hysteria against crypto is underway because it is the best strategy to convince people that government is an instrument of crypto justice, not a crypto-criminal wannabe.


Respectability=the Need for an Injustice to Remedy=Regulation

Governments are playing a multi-leveled shell game with crypto, which is likely to play out as follows.

First and wherever necessary, crypto will be redefined as money rather than as an asset, because central banks, government agencies, and traditional financial institutions have no proper authority to regulate privately-held assets that are legally acquired and held. Governments can tax and confiscate, to be sure, but that level of control is modest compared with the monopoly power to issue and/or to define what is legal money.

Next, crypto will be conflated with crypto-asset markets, such as exchanges and businesses that issue ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings). Although the two are separate, most people make little to no distinction between them; the concepts become jumbled together. Those who want to regulate crypto itself find the jumble to be useful because it facilitates broad legislation that covers the entire sphere of crypto and its many manifestations.

The blueprint for crypto control is predictable; it is also global. Last week, for example, the Financial Stability Board delivered a report to a G20 meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, which discussed a framework for setting standards on crypto-asset markets.

A few months earlier, the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde indicated how global bodies would proceed. There were familiar references to crypto’s alleged role in terrorism and money laundering. But the emphasis differed. On the IMF blog, Lagarde called for crypto-asset markets to protect consumers in the same manner as traditional financial markets do. Know Your Customer policies and global coordination were stressed.

The call for consumer protection is echoing. At a June 25th conference, for example, the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Andrew Smith, explained, “With the rise of cryptocurrencies we’ve seen many signs, from public sources to law enforcement actions brought by us…that scammers are using the lure of cryptocurrencies to rip off consumers.”

“People need protection from the new money!” is ascending as the argument for regulating crypto. The argument not only appeals to an ingrained bias against free-market money, it also plays on people’s fear. Popular support makes it much easier for government agencies and central banks to succeed in their global grab at crypto. And, so, the word “fraud” is becoming more common whenever crypto is discussed, even though crypto-asset markets are usually the focus. (Note: the fact that fiat currencies are total frauds, along with many penny and over-the-counter stocks, does not arise.)


The Most Damnable Aspect of the Widespread Fraud Claim

There is real truth to the accusation of fraud. Crypto, like every other investment, is a “caveat emptor” situation due to the risk of fraud and other forms of theft. “Caveat emptor” is usually translated as “Buyer Beware,” and it means that a buyer or customer is responsible for checking goods and services before purchasing them. The principle is valid, but it is unsatisfying and an incomplete answer when confronted with fraud, which is a crime—the crime on which government pins its dreams of usurping crypto.

How massive is the problem of fraud? A recent study prepared by the Satis Group found that, as a percentage of the ICOs it examined, “approximately 78% of ICOs were Identified Scams, 4% Failed, 3% had Gone Dead, and 15% went on to trade on an exchange.”
It is not clear if the findings are valid, especially since expert reports have become a stock aspect of any push for legislation; many of them are sloppy and politically motivated. Frankly, the figures seem exaggerated. On the other hand, many ICOs have been revealed as corrupt, and the existence of fraud is undeniable, especially in crypto-asset markets.

Admitting a problem, however, does not validate a particular solution, such as government intervention. For one thing, government has proven itself to be unwilling to prevent fraud in the monetary system it already commands: central banking. Satoshi Nakamoto explained,

“The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust. Banks must be trusted to hold our money and transfer it electronically, but they lend it out in waves of credit bubbles with barely a fraction in reserve. We have to trust them with our privacy, trust them not to let identity thieves drain our accounts. Their massive overhead costs make micropayments impossible.”  

The debasement of currency is also known as inflation, which becomes inevitable because inflation is a prime source of revenue for the government and for the groups it favors. But the damage of government money extends beyond the degradation of value. Rothbard explained,

“It has fragmented the peaceful, productive world market and shattered it into a thousand pieces, with trade and investment hobbled and hampered by myriad restrictions, controls, artificial rates, currency breakdowns, etc. It has helped bring about wars by transforming a world of peaceful intercourse into a jungle of warring currency blocs. In short, we find that coercion, in money as in other matters, brings, not order, but conflict and chaos.”

And, yet, one of the main arguments against free-market money is that the marketplace is too chaotic and corrupt. Nonsense.

 There Oughta Be a Law

Fraud requires a legal response because a crime has occurred. But, again, admitting a need does not validate a particular solution. This is especially true of the legal solutions offered by government.

Generally speaking, there are four types of laws that function in society, and they sometimes overlap.

  • Ones that impose a specific vision of the world or of morality. These include laws against alleged vices, such as alcohol or drug use, as well as laws requiring alleged virtues, such as voting or paying taxes. The goal is to mandate a code of behavior, thus erasing the boundary between the legal and (someone’s vision of) the moral. Typically, the laws are enforced on everyone, except those with power seem to be exempt.
  • Ones that regulate a targeted segment of society. These include laws about who may conduct a specific business and how it must operate, as well as laws that discriminate between people based on factors such as race. The goal is economic and social control, with enforcement focusing on designated people.
  • Ones that protect against physical harm and property damage, including theft. These include laws against assault and vandalism. Rather than mandate a behavior, they prohibit one–namely, violence, which includes fraud. The goal is to provide the safety that allows a healthy society to thrive, with enforcement applying to everyone.
  • Ones that are created by contract. These include laws that allow creditors to seize assets in arrears, such as a repossessed car, and laws aimed at enforcing behavior, such as the performance of work for which payment has been rendered. A contract can always be breached, but there is a penalty for doing so: for example, a repossessed car, a refund of fees. The goal is to establish enforceable contracts, which are nothing more than enforceable consent between individuals. Again, it provides a safety that allows a healthy society to thrive and which discourages violence as the only way to resolve a dispute. The law applies only to those who contract.

On crypto, the government flexes only the first two forms of law: a specific vision imposed on the world; and, the regulation of a targeted sector. The laws do not protect people and property, as evidenced by the fact that recovered funds are not returned to those who have been defrauded. Fines, fees and recovered wealth go into the government’s coffers. In short, the laws serve government; they do not protect consumers.

The last two forms of law protect individuals, including consumers, and not government. They are laws that would exist in the free market because they fulfill human requirements. But what exactly would they look like? And how would they be enforced?

[To be continued next week.]

Reprints of this article should credit bitcoin.com and include a link back to the original links to all previous chapters


Wendy McElroy has agreed to ”live-publish” her new book The Satoshi Revolution exclusively with Bitcoin.com. Every Saturday you’ll find another installment in a series of posts planned to conclude after about 18 months. Altogether they’ll make up her new book ”The Satoshi Revolution”. Read it here first.

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Bitcoin Cash Developers Debate an Idea Called Pre-Consensus

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Bitcoin Cash Developers Debate an Idea Called Pre-Consensus

This past Thursday, the lead developer of Bitcoin ABC, Amaury Séchet, published a paper on the social media platform Yours.org about a protocol technique called ‘pre-consensus.’ According to Séchet, and other BCH developers like Bitcoin Unlimited’s Peter Rizun, pre-consensus could improve block propagation time, benefit zero-confirmation reliability and help delegate decisions tethered to consensus conditions.

Also Read: Vietnam’s Central Bank Thinks Cryptocurrency Miners Should Be Banned

Bitcoin ABC’s Amaury Séchet Publishes a Paper Called ‘On Markets and Pre-Consensus’

Bitcoin Cash Developers Debate an Idea Called Pre-Consensus
Amaury Séchet

This week, Amaury Séchet, the Bitcoin ABC client’s lead developer announced on Twitter that he had wrote a paper called, “On Markets and Pre-Consensus.” The article discusses the concept of pre-consensus which Séchet describes as a protocol that enables network participants to agree on what the next block size will look like. Various developers have discussed this idea before, including Bitcoin Unlimited’s chief scientist, Peter Rizun, who wrote about the subject for the Ledger academic publication, and Rizun also discussed pre-consensus during his talk at the Satoshi’s Vision Conference in Tokyo.      

“Even before Bitcoin Cash was a thing, I was promoting the idea of pre-consensus — This refers to a set of technologies allowing network participants to agree as much as possible on what the next block is going to look like,” explains Séchet’s paper. “If done well, this provides significantly stronger 0-conf guarantee that we currently have, while also allowing to reach greater scale by moving work out of the critical path (if a node know what the next block is going to look like, a lot of the validation work can be done ahead of time).”

As it turns out, pre-consensus has the added bonus effect that it allows to delegate the responsibility of picking various values which are currently centrally planned to the market. Actors who use different policies will be able to reconcile their differences in a time scale that is compatible with 0-conf.

Bitcoin Cash Developers Debate an Idea Called Pre-Consensus

Séchet Says Pre-Consensus ‘Too Important to Not be Tackled Now’

Séchet delves further and states that pre-consensus has been on the BCH roadmap since day one, and has made “zero progress” so far. He explains that the past year had been hectic and the latest “flavor of the day” is tokens.

“While all these projects have value, it is clear that I need to ruthlessly prioritize pre-consensus,” Séchet emphasizes.   

The actions I have to take along the way will surely irritate many, but this is too important to not be tackled now.

Nchain’s Craig Wright: ‘No Hash Goes to This Crap — They Want It, They Fork It’

Bitcoin Cash Developers Debate an Idea Called Pre-Consensus
Craig Wright.

After Séchet published his idea and fellow colleagues began to share the paper on Twitter, Nchain’s chief scientist Craig Wright spoke out against the pre-consensus idea. “No hash goes to this crap — They want it, they fork it, without us,” Wright states on Twitter. “Without the apps using our code, our IP etc. — Without the companies, we have invested in.” Of course, the outburst from Wright got the community stirring wildly into a heated discussion.

There’s also a Reddit conversation about pre-consensus and Wright’s comments on the subreddit r/BTC which has over 400 comments at the time of writing. The top comment belongs to Bitcoin Unlimited’s lead developer, Andrew Stone. “At Satoshi’s Vision Conference, Craig Wright said his miners were going to detect and somehow penalize double spends which is a form of pre-consensus,” Stone says. “We don’t even know concretely what Deadalnix (Amaury Séchet) is proposing so how can a person reject it and call it crap?”

An Avalanche of Pre-Consensus Emotions

Other developers such as the Yours.org founder, Ryan X Charles, seemed to be interested in the idea of pre-consensus when discussing the subject in one of his latest videos. Charles gives his viewers a glimpse of what he thinks about Séchet’s latest statements, and details there is also a paper called, Avalanche, which offers a unique approach to pre-consensus. The paper “Avalanche: A Novel Metastable Consensus Protocol Family for Cryptocurrencies,” was written by a group of developers who call themselves ‘Team Rocket’ after the mischievous Pokémon characters.

Other members of the community dislike the idea of pre-consensus and have shared their responses to Séchet’s recent article. One person’s post on Yours.org called “Pre-Consensus Implies Content Without Giving It,” is particularly interesting. In the writing, the author compares pre-consensus to the Segregated Witness protocol (Segwit) perverting the underlying foundations of Nakamoto Consensus.

“This will change if we make a fundamental protocol change like a pre-consensus,” explains the author @Logan.

We will be in the same position as Segwit, making the argument that Bitcoin needs to change and adapt over time. We will no longer be the protocol as described in the white paper.    

What do you think about Séchet’s pre-consensus statements? What do you think about Nchain’s Craig Wright disagreeing with the idea? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comment section below.


Images via Shutterstock,Twitter, Pixabay, and Wiki Commons. 


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The Daily: Coinbase Forms Political Action Committee, EY Acquires Crypto Patents

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The Daily: Coinbase Forms Political Action Committee, EY Acquires Crypto Patents

In The Daily on Saturday, crypto exchange Coinbase has formed a political action committee to raise funds for US elections. Also, Ernst & Young has announced the acquisition of crypto technology and patents, and Indonesian crypto POS terminal maker Pundi X is looking to expand in South Korea with a new partnership.

Also read: Minsk Mulls Rules for Exchanges, Qiwi Awards Employees with Tokens

Coinbase to Raise Money for Elections

The Daily: Coinbase Forms Political Action Committee, EY Acquires Crypto PatentsCalifornia-based crypto exchange Coinbase has formed a political action committee in order to raise money that can be spent on US elections, Reuters reported quoting the company. The filing was announced on Friday, July 20. According to the report, the political action committee has not raised any funds yet.

Coinbase is an important player in the crypto sector. A couple of months ago, the exchange said it would revamp its trading technology to create and offer a new suite of services to attract more institutional investors, including hedge funds and high-frequency trading firms. Its new institutional offering, Coinbase Custody, is already open for business. The company also launched its Coinbase Pro platform.

In May, it was revealed that Coinbase’s representatives had met with US regulators to talk about the possibility to apply for a banking license. The trading platform reportedly contacted officials from the US Office of the Comptroller of Currency earlier this year to discuss the matter. Reports that Coinbase had been approved to list securities were later corrected by the company.

Coinbase’s decisions and moves often influence crypto markets, as was the case with the recent announcement that the exchange is considering adding five new cryptocurrencies – ADA, BAT, XLM, ZEC, and ZRX. The news quickly raised the prices of these coins by up to 20 percent.

Leading Exchanges List New Coins

The Daily: Coinbase Forms Political Action Committee, EY Acquires Crypto PatentsSpeaking of new listings, Chinese-run Okex, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges, has added the cardano (ADA) cryptocurrency to its platform with trading starting on July 23. The company announced the addition on Twitter, this past Friday. It has also added a new token, hycon (HYC), whose spot trading is scheduled to begin on the 24th. According to Coinmarketcap, cardano is currently 8th among the tracked cryptos, with a market capitalization of over $4.2 billion USD.

Another leading exchange, Singapore-headquartered Huobi, announced this week it is adding digibyte (DGB) to its trading options. The coin has been offered since Friday, in pairs with bitcoin (BTC) and ethereum (ETH). Withdrawals will be available on Sunday, July 22. After the announcement, the price of DGB surged by about 17 percent. At the time of writing, digibyte ranks 32nd, according to Coinmarketcap, with a market capitalization of over $460 million.

Ernst & Young Acquires Crypto Technology

The Daily: Coinbase Forms Political Action Committee, EY Acquires Crypto PatentsWhile major players from the crypto space are looking to diversify elsewhere, established financial companies have been exploring possibilities in the fintech sector. Ernst & Young, one of the major global accounting firms, announced this month the acquisition of technology assets and related patents from Elevated Consciousness. The San Francisco-based startup specializes in developing solutions for the crypto-asset ecosystem like the Andy Crypto-Asset Accounting and Tax tool (CAAT) which connects with multiple crypto exchanges and wallets, allowing for better visibility into transactions and inventory.

The acquisition is part of EY’s strategy to expand blockchain-related capabilities and services worldwide, according to a press release published by PRNewswire. “Cryptocurrencies and blockchain are transformational forces with a strong potential to fundamentally change the way business is done,” said Kate Barton, EY Global Vice Chair – Tax Services. “CAAT positions us as a leader in serving a variety of companies adopting crypto-assets in an evolving regulatory environment,” she added, quoted in the corporate announcement.

Pundi X with New Partnership in South Korea

Following news that it’s working to build a network of 5,500 POS terminals for crypto payments in Hong Kong, it’s been reported that Pundi X is now eyeing the South Korean market. The Indonesian company revealed in a statement that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the local smart card manufacturer Ubivelox. The partnership aims to support the deployment of Pundi X devices in South Korea.

The Daily: Coinbase Forms Political Action Committee, EY Acquires Crypto PatentsThe Pundi XPOS terminals offer payments in multiple cryptocurrencies and support transactions through other wallets like Alipay and Wechat Pay. These devices accept also payment cards as well as Pundi X’s own XPASS card. The latter allows users to buy, sell and trade different cryptos and make online purchases. The two companies plan to distribute the XPASS cards and develop together a mobile crypto payment system.

The latest announcement is part of Pundi X’s planned expansion in the region. The company intends to introduce up to 100,000 of its crypto POS terminals in Southeast Asia by 2021. The Indonesian firm also claims that a number of businesses from Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Switzerland have already ordered a total of 25,000 of its terminals.

What are your thoughts on today’s news tidbits? Tell us in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Pundi X.


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Big-Name Insurers Stepping Up Their Crypto Game

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Big-Name Insurers Stepping Up Their Crypto Game

A growing number of big-name insurers are getting into the crypto space. They are exploring new product options in this area and meeting with cryptocurrency custodians and trading platforms about coverage. However, exclusions can add up fast for crypto businesses and premiums can be more than five times that of a normal business.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Large Insurers Getting into Crypto

While most big-name insurers are reluctant to provide coverage to crypto startups, some are slowly coming around and quietly entering the space. Two leading insurance brokers that help companies shop for crypto policies, Marsh & Mclennan and Aon, were quoted by Bloomberg on Thursday:

Business has been brisk this year.

Big-Name Insurers Stepping Up Their Crypto GameMarsh has formed a dedicated team to service blockchain startups while Aon says it has “seen some insurers tweak general company policies to include crypto-specific protections,” the publication detailed, adding that Aon also claims to have over 50 percent of the crypto insurance market.

According to the company’s website, “Aon has been working to understand these evolving technologies and actively collaborates with the insurance marketplace to develop innovative risk transfer solutions.” Its subsidiary, Aon Risk Solutions, has “developed a policy form to protect against the loss of cryptocurrency along with other initiatives designed to meet the emerging risks posed by cryptocurrencies and digital ledger technologies,” Business Insurance magazine described.

Big Opportunities

Big-Name Insurers Stepping Up Their Crypto GameEuropean insurer and asset manager, Allianz SE, has 88 million retail and corporate clients in more than 70 countries. The Munich-based company “began offering individual coverage for digital-coin theft in the past year,” the publication conveyed and quoted the company’s spokesman, Christian Weishuber, saying:

Insurance for cryptocurrency storage will be a big opportunity…Digital assets are becoming more relevant, important and prevalent on the real economy and we are exploring product and coverage options in this area.

American International Group (AIG) “has also been adding crypto coverage into standard policy forms” and has “met with cryptocurrency custodians and trading platforms about coverage,” the news outlet detailed and quoted a source familiar with the matter:

Over a dozen underwriters, including Chubb and XL, currently provide coverage to crypto-related businesses.

In February, Reuters reported that XL Catlin, Chubb, and Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance firms started offering protection against crypto theft.

Costly Premiums

Big-Name Insurers Stepping Up Their Crypto GameCrypto companies are also increasingly seeking to obtain insurance coverage to help attract more clients. A London-based startup focused on crypto custody services, Trustology, is one of the businesses in talks to obtain coverage, according to Bloomberg. The company wants to insure its customer accounts for up to £85,000 (~US$111,630), which is the same standard as a U.K. bank account.

However, insurance premiums for crypto-related coverage are costly and policies can take months to get approved, the publication conveyed, adding that “exclusions can add up fast.” For example, while losses from an interruption of service may be covered, the theft of cryptocurrency that caused the interruption may not.

Citing that many startups cannot afford to pay the high premiums, the news outlet elaborated:

The premiums from insuring such risk can be substantial. By some accounts, underwriters can charge a crypto-related company upwards of five times or more than your average business for coverage against loss or theft.

Do you think soon all big-name insurers will soon get into crypto? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Allianz, and Aon.


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