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There are different emerging economies around the world that have experienced turbulence in the last months. Their currencies depreciated and inflation rates substantially increased. However, this could be positive for Bitcoin adoption around the world. Let’s see what happened inArgentina,Venezuela,Turkeyand Ukraine.

Emerging Markets Embrace Bitcoin

Turkey was the first country experiencing strong economic problems some time ago. U.S. President Donald Trump imposed taxes to aluminum and steel imports from Turkey. He has also decided to include other financial sanctions.

In just a year, the Turkish Liralost 97% against the US Dollar. This has certainly damaged Turkey’s economy and companies.

With capital controls in the country, investors turned to virtual currencies, but specifically to Bitcoin. At least, this can be seen in thevolume of Bitcoin transacted in Local Bitcoins. The number of Bitcoins moved reached the highest levels in 2018.

According to Coinhills, the Turkish Lira (TRY) is the 7th most traded currency against Bitcoin around the world. In the last 24 hours it moved almost 1,200 BTC.

Argentina

In Argentina, the situation looks very similar. Although the South American country has not been affected by Trump’s tariffs, the Argentine Peso (ARS) has devalued against the US Dollar 120%. Right after the latest devaluation (20% on August 30), the central bankincreased interest rates up to 60%.

Since the beginning of the year, Argentina has experienced an increase in the number of Bitcoin transactedthrough Local Bitcoins. During the last weeks the market experienced the highest number of transactions in the year.

Venezuela

Venezuela is also in a very complicated situation. Citizens are moving towards virtual currencies. For example, Dash is being used in the country more than in any other nation. Additionally, individuals living in Venezuela are mining virtual currencies to survive and pay their local bills or save some funds.

According to Local Bitcoins, Venezuela hasregistered a very important increase in the number of Bitcoins transacted. This year, the number of Bitcoins transactions increased 157% from 244 to 628 Bitcoins.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the inflation in Venezuela is going to reach 1 million percent. According to Alejandro Werner, head of the IMF’s Western Hemisphere department, the crisis is comparable to that of Germany in 1923 or Zimbabwe in the late 2000s.

About it, Werner wrote:
“The collapse in economic activity, hyperinflation, and increasing deterioration in the provision of public goods as well as shortages of food at subsidized prices have resulted in large migration flows, which will lead to intensifying spillover effects on neighboring countries.”
Bitcoin is used as a safe haven when crisis appear in some countries. However, there were no important crisis in developed countries to compare and see the results. Bitcoin has been in the market in the last 10 years, but since 2016 it has experienced an important growth.




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Alipay and its parent company Ant Financial announced a partnership with local Chineseauthorities to use blockchain for ensuring the authenticity of rice, local media report August 28.

A major player in the Chinese market, Alipay boasted 400 million users in August 2017. The company is owned by Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial.

According to Global Times, the deal with the municipal government in Wuchang in Heilongjiang Province aims to stop counterfeit versions of the well-known Wuchang rice making it into the market.

“This is the first time that Wuchang Rice has changed the long-distance distribution method for the whole country, shortening the original delivery time of 3-7 days to less than 2 days,” the publication adds about the benefits of blockchain introduction:
“Information such as warehousing, delivery, and trucking of warehousing and distribution links is also visible to consumers in real time.”
The move comes a week after China ramped up its cryptocurrency ban with further blocks on exchanges and exchange of information about the sector.

On the contrary, blockchain continues to capture the imagination of Beijing, with various partnerships and integrations ongoing within both the state and private sectors.

Alipay has also taken a tough stance on users performing cryptocurrency trading using its accounts, Cointelegraph reported over the weekend, while in June, Ant Financial began a blockchain remittance project with the Philippines.




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North Korea is reportedly planning to hold a conference devoted to blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies. The event, said to have been scheduled to take place in October, is expected to bring experts from around the world who will meet representatives of North Korean enterprises.    

DPRK’s First International Crypto Event?
The Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea (DPRK), the hermit communist state that suffers from bad publicity in the crypto space, is organizing a cryptocurrency and blockchain conference in Pyongyang in October. This is according to a report by the U.S.-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) quoted by the South Korean Yonhap news agency.

The first Korean International Blockchain Conference will be a two-day event in the capital city of the DPRK, starting on October 1. According to the report, the conference will bring together experts in the field from around the world. Participants are also expected to hold meetings with representatives of the North Korean state-run entities on October 3.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a security expert told the radio station that North Korea appears to be trying to show off its capabilities when it comes to cutting-edge crypto and blockchain technologies.

New Hacking Allegations May Overshadow the Conference

The news about the upcoming Pyongyang event comes after another report implicating the communist regime of exploiting digital security weaknesses in the West to acquire crypto capital through illicit means. Lazarus Group, a cybercrime syndicate often associated with North Korea, has deployed new malware adapted to infect multiple operating systems.

Researchers at the cyber security firm Kaspersky claim the presumed North Korean hackers have recently initiated a new campaign named “Applejeus” using a trojan called Fallchill. The cryptocurrency-stealing software was discovered after it penetrated the IT systems of an unnamed cryptocurrency exchange based in Asia.

The attack took place after one of the platform’s employees downloaded an infected crypto trading application from a legitimate-looking website. The experts found that the Fallchill trojan had been redesigned to target not only Windows PCs but also macOS devices and possibly Linux machines.

North Korea’s Crypto Dossier

This is not the first time the DPRK is accusedof attempting to get hold of stolen cryptocurrency. In March, former NSA official and cyber security expert for the Asia-Pacific region, Priscilla Moriuchi, said the North had obtained at least 11,000 bitcoins (BTC) through mining and hacking in 2017. At the time the value of the crypto fortune was estimated at over $200 million USD.

Last year the notorious Lazarus Group was implicated in attacks on South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges. According to intelligence sources in Seoul, North Korean hackers have been involved in the cyberattack on Bithumb, the country’s largest crypto trading platform, which compromised personal data of more than 30,000 users.

Forced to deal with limited access to the global financial system, Pyongyang has been trying to also take advantage of the opportunities that come with cryptocurrencies in terms of unrestricted and anonymous transactions. The seriousness of the intentions of Kim Jong-un’s regime to develop the country’s potential in the space were confirmed by reports that Pyongyang University is conducting crypto courses.

What do you think about North Korea hosting a crypto-blockchain conference? Let us know in the comments section below.




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The owner of cryptocurrency mining electric bicycle retailer, 50cycles, recently had his company’s accounts with HSBC and Barclays frozen within hours of transacting on peer-to-peer cryptocurrency trading platform, Locabitcoins.

HSBC and Barclays Freeze Accounts of 50cycles

Scott Snaith, the owner of cryptocurrency mining electric bicycle retailer, 50cycles, has sought to deter businesses from partnering with U.K. high street banks after his company was thrown into “chaos” following the freezing of his business’s accounts.

Mr. Snaith’s accounts were frozen by HSBC and Barclays just hours after he conducted five-figure BTC transactions via peer-to-peer trading platform Localbitcoins, in which he sold BTC for fiat currency that was deposited into his personal bank accounts, and not his company’s accounts. Mr. Snaith asserts that the transactions were “entirely transparent and above board,” adding that his trading partners were U.K. account holders with verified identification. Mr. Snaith stated that no explanation was offered for the account closures, describing himself as being the victim of “financial discrimination.”

“My two personal bank accounts and business account were frozen for using a well-known bitcoin trading site. No unlawful activity has taken place but just because the word ‘Bitcoin’ was mentioned my accounts were locked instantly. A ‘senior fraud advisor’ then closed my complaint off – leaving me with no choice but to take the issue to the Financial Ombudsman for appeal. This situation is a complete nightmare and the knock-on effects have been unbelievable. One of my staff left as they had just had a baby and couldn’t afford to be in a job that was unable to pay them, which isn’t surprising,” Mr. Snaith said.

HSBC Reinstates Account, Barclays Refuses

Whilst HSBC have reinstated Mr. Snaith’s account, Barclays maintained the freeze. Mr. Snaith stated: “I’ll never be able to bank with Barclays again. I’m a professional business owner taking advantage of new financial technologies and it looks like the banks are failing to keep up with their customers’ habits. We are the ones being punished. The banks are deliberately creating obstacles. They are anti-digital currency and displaying a new form of financial discrimination.”

“To me, this is a clear case of the high street banks abusing their power. It is not a criminal matter but a personal, corporate decision that someone has made. In my mind, that’s wholly wrong, and I am sure there are many other victims that are even less fortunate than myself,” he added.

What is your reaction to the freezing of 50cycles’ accounts? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!




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China is reportedly witnessing a surge in peer-to-peer (P2P) cryptocurrency lending amid the country’s recent liquidity crunch and the virtual currency markets’ bear season. Despite regulatory uncertainty, entrepreneurs are reportedly eying opportunities in the nascent industry.

Peer-to-Peer Cryptocurrency Lending Gains Popularity in China During Bear Market

Chinese media outlet, Sohu, has published a report on the increasing proliferation of cryptocurrency lending platforms.

Zhang Le, described as a veteran of the cryptocurrency industry according to Sohu, stated: “At present, most of the market only recognizes two major currencies, Bitcoin and Ethereum. This business is currently earning interest.” Xu Lizhen described those lending through the platform as comprising long-term cryptocurrencies holders who aren’t interesting in trading the markets in the short term.

“This is just the need. When the currency is low, people who are speculating in the currency will definitely not be willing to sell the coins. Once they are short of money, they must find such platforms. The demand has formed this market,” Zhang Le said.

The media outlet cited industry insiders as estimating that there are currently more than twenty startups operating in the cryptocurrency loan industry.

Nascent Industry Emerging Despite Looming Regulatory Uncertainty

Sohu reports that insiders as described those launching operations in the P2P crypto loan industry as “harden[ing[ their swords,” emphasizing the risks posed by regulation – “the biggest variable in the field.”

According to a rough translation, Xu Lizhen of New Express stated: “The [cryptocurrency] industry is called to stop, the market has not stopped.” Xu Lizhen described the crypto lending platforms as offering cryptocurrency investors the opportunity to “solve [their] liquidity problems in the down phase,” stating that such accept larges “pledges [of] BTC [and] ETH,” and that the “cost is beautiful.”

Hu Jie of the Shanghai Institute of Advanced Finance stated: “currently, digital currency mortgage lending business mostly occurs only in the currency circle. One party has funds (or digital currency) to seek lending, and the other party lacks funds (or digital currency) to borrow. Digital assets can be used for mortgages, and such private trading behaviors can be allowed.” Hu Jie also emphad the potential contingencies associated with regulation, stating “if an entity specializes in this business and engages in this type of lending and financial management, it needs to have corresponding qualifications and conditions. Otherwise, it may be suspected of illegal lending and illegal business.”
Internet finance lawyer, Xiao Wei, stated: “This is a gray game. The essence is to solve the problem of asset liquidity or direct fundraising. But even in the gray industry, we must not adopt a market manipulation method. This will only bring the 266th fraud of the criminal law to our future. The risk of sin.”

Do you think that Chinese lawmakers will crack down on cryptocurrency lending? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.




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He’s not flashy. He doesn’t post photographs of himself aboard yachts, arm-in-arm with scantily-clad groupies. A safe bet would be to assume he doesn’t own a sharkskin suit. Instead, his preference seems to be in the background, slightly obscured, faded almost. And yet he is arguably the most important man in cryptocurrency right now, and at least a most important man in crypto at the moment. 

Meet Bitmain’s Jihan Wu, a Most Important Man in Crypto

In recent years, and the last few months especially, it’s been getting harder for Jihan Wu to remain that background figure. Co-founder of Bitmain Technologies, a dominant mining player, Jihan Wu is a billionaire a few times over.

Indeed, Bitmain is doing billions in revenue each year, and it’s only been around for half a decade. Mr. Wu is himself just a tender 32 years old. Chances are, he is going to be a force in the space for some time to come.  

He’s openly admired by some, and downright hated by others. Whatever an enthusiast’s feeling towards Mr. Wu, they’ll all admit to him being an unavoidable fixture within the ecosystem. The China-based mogul and the company he founded with two others, including Micree Zhan, most notably helped to bring application-specific integrated circuits (ASIC) to the nascent field of mining. It turned out to be a genius move for Mr. Wu, a former financial analyst.

ASICs have become the world standard in bitcoin mining, leaving graphics processing units (GPUs) in the dust at some 300 times faster. That speed becomes critical as the bitcoin inflation rate slows and coins become more difficult to mine. Bitmain has positioned itself to take full advantage. Once an afterthought in the community, mining has been brought to the forefront by the work of Bitmain, easily cryptocurrency’s most profitable company.

Software, Hardware, Clouds

Bitmain and Mr. Wu have branched out beyond just chips and software, developing their own mining pool, Antpool, along with BTC.com. Depending on the time period and outlet studying Antpool’s block mining prowess, nearly a quarter of all Bitcoin blocks mined have gone through Antpool (that number balloons to 40% when combined with BTC.com). Bitmain has also crafted hardware for mining in the form of the Antminer (estimates have Bitmain in control of something like 80% of all mining gear), and continues to invest in the growing sector of cloud mining with Hashnest.

At his discovery of Bitcoin, Mr. Wu, so enamored with the technology, became the first person to translate Satoshi Nakamoto’s white paper into Chinese. Being from China and in China, especially considering the country’s government and its battles with crypto, just about every conceivable conspiracy has been placed at the feet of Mr. Wu and Bitmain.

Competitors have accused him and the company of shady tactics, including 51% attacks on rival chains, collusion to better situate Bitmain where it is less competitive, and other assorted underhanded deeds (all of which Mr. Wu angrily denies). His most controversial efforts are forever linked to the fork of Bitcoin Core (BTC) a year ago this month. Rendering Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Mr. Wu hasn’t alleviated fears in this regard. He is a vocal and very enthusiastic supporter of BCH.   
  
Quotable

The growth rate of Bitmain under Mr. Wu’s leadership seems poised to move from relative obscurity in the formal financial sector with a record-shattering initial public offering (IPO). Estimates, and it’s all very preliminary, value the company at closing-in on ten billion dollars. This would place it ready to take on public rivals such as Nvidia and Mediatek should the IPO come to fruition.

Asked by Fortune in a recent interview about the future, Mr. Wu elaborated, “My priority is, first, that we will continue to invest a lot of resources into the research and R&D of mining rigs to make sure we maintain an advantage over other competitors, like Avalon. We will also invest into our vision about the future of a crypto market. We think that it will start to support the real world economy, and to build more than this financial market on the Internet. Bitmain will also start to deploy lots of artificial intelligence products into the market—a totally new business selling hardware to do artificial intelligence accelerations,” he stressed.

To reach IPO levels in the legacy financial world would mean coming out of the shadows, and opening up books and practices, not to mention dealing with regulators. Mining has been under a great deal of scrutiny from the likes of environmentalists to local municipal utility concerns, and regulators are chomping at the bit to intervene in players such as Bitmain. On this topic, Mr. Wu explained of regulators, “Our business is semiconductor design.

Circle [a U.S. cryptocurrency startup privately valued at $3 billion after Bitmain led its most recent financing round] has been much more experienced with regulators. That’s why Bitmain is interested in Circle as well. We see in the future that negotiating and working with regulators is quite important. We need to push those heavy regulations back a little bit. But we need to work with them, not just try to get around it.”

What are your thoughts about Bitmain and Jihan Wu? Share them in the comments section below.




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Crypto markets spiked today, August 21, seeing notable gains amongst the top 100 coins in under an hour, as data from Coin360 shows.

Market visualization from Coin360
Total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies shot up over $12 billion in just over an hour to peak at $222.8 billion, before dropping slightly to $291.7 billion by press time.

1-day chart of the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies from CoinMarketCap
Bitcoin (BTC) had been trading sideways today around $6,400-$6,500 before seeing a sharp 5 percent spike in the space of just 45 minutes, peaking around $6,790. The leading cryptocurrency has since dropped slightly to trade around $6,715 at press time, stil up about 6.2 percent on the day.
Bitcoin’s 1-day price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Bitcoin Price Index

Bitcoin is also boasting almost 6 percent growth on the week, while on the month the coin is down almost 10 percent, according to Cointelegraph’s Bitcoin Price Index.

All except one of the top ten cryptocurrencies have seen major growth during today’s spike, each gaining 4 to 9 percent on the day to press time.
Amongst the top ten coins, EOS (EOS) has seen the most growth over the 24-hour period, up 8.7 percent and trading at $5.19.

In the top twenty coins, altcoin VeChain (VET) has seen the most significant growth on the day, up a whopping 18.67 percent to trade at $0.015.
As a some commentators pointed out on Twitter, the sharp upswing across crypto markets began just as leveraged crypto trading platform BitMEX announced it was halting trading for scheduled maintenance at 1:00 AM UTC.

Crypto persona and self-described “crypto prophet” Beastlorion posted a series of Twitter polls in the hours leading up to BitMEX’s scheduled shutdown suggesting that the move would affect Bitcoin’s price.

BitMEX is not listed on CoinMarketCap’s Bitcoin price and volume averages because, as the tracking service states on their site, “[t]he BTC/USD market on BitMEX is a derivatives market NOT actually spot trading Bitcoin. As a result, it has been excluded from the price and volume averages of Bitcoin.”

On its official website, BitMEX describes itself as a “Peer-to-Peer Trading Platform that offers leveraged contracts that are bought and sold in Bitcoin,” reporting daily trade volumes of $3.76 billion. At press time, CoinMarketCap also lists BitMEX’s total BTC/USD trade volumes over the past 24 hours at around $3.7 billion.
According to CoinMarketCap, currently the largest crypto exchange by daily trade volume is Binance, with around $1.12 billion in total trades of all pairs over the 24-hour period to press time.

At press time, BitMEX’s most recent tweet, posted two hours ago, announced that it would be resuming trading within minutes.




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Cryptocurrency markets have been consolidating after a few volatile spikes and subsequent dumps over the last few weeks. Now a lot of crypto-traders are uncertain what will happen next, but quite a lot of people are showing pessimism by betting against cryptocurrencies like BTC with short positions. At the moment, BTC/USD short positions on Bitfinex are slowly approaching the all-time high that took place this past April.

BTC/USD Shorts Stack Up

Last April, BTC/USD short positions on Bitfinex reached a high of over 40,000 and now market shorts are climbing awfully close to that all-time high this August. At press time, there are39,039 shorts on Bitfinex which means one of two things will happen — Either the price will drop downwards following suit with the bear’s predictions, or the bulls are playing a trick and the price will spike upwards very quickly in a very fast short-squeeze. People who are shorting BTC/USD believe and are betting the price will go down in the near future.

Long positions on Bitfinex are less than shorts at the moment, but not too much lower as there are25,895 longs today on August 21. Traders playing long positions hope the BTC/USD price will replicate the action that took place last April when the price spiked fast and many got squeezed.

Waning Spot Volumes and a Lot of Money in Tether

There are two things that are also weighing heavily on traders: the lack of trade volume these days, and the amount of money in tether right now. BTC/USD trade volume has dropped significantly over the last few months and is around$3.7B over the last 24 hours. The lack of volume makes people leery of betting on a major rally as some traders think there’s not enough push to prime another bull-run.

However, the large amounts of funds in tether (USDT) right now gives people the reason to believe all that money will flow back into cryptocurrencies. Tether does have a lot of money as the currency now holds the 8th largest market capitalization amongst every coin on August 21. USDT has a market valuation of around$2.7B right now and optimistic traders believe a large portion of that money will be back soon.

Leveraged Betting Increases Exponentially as Traders Hope They Made the Right Choice  

Additionally, leverage trading on exchanges that allow traders to bet short or long has grown exponentially over the past two months. Exchanges that offer these trades, like Bitfinex and Bitmex, have seen significant trades volumes. Bitfinex is the third largest trading platform by volume today on August 21, with $280M USD worth of BTC swapped over the last 24 hours. Another example is the leverage trading platform Bitmex, which traded 1,041,748 BTC on July 24 shattering records by hitting a daily trade volume over $1B USD. Bitmex touched another volume high again by swapping 1,027,214 BTC on August 8.

This week markets have been a lot less volatile which is giving everyone the impression that something will change shortly, especially with all the shorts stacking up over the last seven days. BTC/USD prices are hovering above the support zone, the rough region where most traders believe is BTC’s bottom ($5,800). Either the bulls will get rejected and the support zone gets tested again or they surpass current resistance and move back towards the $8K range. One thing is for sure, traders are betting on this outcome feverishly and hoping they made the right choice.

Where do you see the prices headed from here? Are you short or long? Let us know in the comment section below.




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In the high-profile Thai crypto fraud case involving an actor, Thailand’s central bank has clarified that the fraud is not related to cryptocurrency trading, but a general misuse of money. Thailand has recently legalized seven cryptocurrencies, authorized seven crypto firms, and the Bank of Thailand has green-lighted commercial banks’ subsidiaries for crypto activities.

Bank of Thailand’s Clarification

The current high-profile fraud case involving over 5,564 BTC has received much attention in Thai media. It involves a well-known soap actor and model, Jiratpisit Jaravijit, also known as “Boom”.
The Thai News Agency reported on August 20 that the Bank of Thailand (BOT) Governor, Mr. Veerathai Santiprabhob, has clarified that this fraud case is not about crypto trading. He pointed out that, as far as he knows, the scheme was not dependant on using cryptocurrencies. He emphad that in this case:
The money is used for the wrong purpose. It is not a fraud that occurred during crypto trading.
Mr. Veerathai continued to warn investors that crypto investing is risky due to price volatility, reminding them that they should understand the risks and only invest what they can afford to lose.

Further Development of the Case

This case involves a Finnish bitcoiner and his partner being duped into investing in fraudulent investments including tokens called dragon coins, as news.Bitcoin.com previously reported.

According to local media, the Thai police’s Crime Suppression Division (CSD) summoned eight scam suspects on Thursday. They were Boom, members of his family, two businessmen and a former soldier, the Bangkok Post detailed.

The publication also reported that “a ‘whale’ investor in the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) and staff at up to three Thai banks are suspected of being complicit” in the fraud. Three of the country’s largest banks – Bangkok Bank, Siam Commercial Bank and Kasikornbank – were named. “All handled transactions involving part of the swindled money,” the publication noted and quoted the police explaining:
Police said several of the banks’ employees failed to report money transfers of 2 million baht [~US$61,040] or higher, a serious violation of bank rules. Staff are required to inform the Anti Money Laundering Office (Amlo) when sums of this value change hands.
Thailand has recently enacted its cryptocurrency regulations. The country’s main crypto regulator, the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), has authorized seven crypto firms, five of which are crypto exchanges, to legally operate in the country. The regulator is also reviewing other applications. The seven cryptocurrencies that can be legally traded for the Thai baht are BTC, ETH, BCH, ETC, LTC, XRP, and XLM.

In addition, the SEC has revealed that about 50 initial coin offering (ICO) projects are seeking to launch, five ICO portals plan to open for business, and 20 crypto exchanges have applied for a license. Meanwhile, the Bank of Thailand has green-lighted subsidiaries of commercial banks to engage in crypto activities.

What do you think of the Bank of Thailand’s action? Let us know in the comments section below.




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Crypto exchanges Gemini, Bitstamp, Bittrex, and bitFlyer USA have announced the creation of a self-regulatory organization for digital commodities, such as cryptocurrencies, Business Insider reports August 20.

The new group, dubbed “Virtual Commodity Association Working Group,” aims to help large-scale investors get more comfortable with the crypto market, work on formulating industry standards, and “be a precursor to the formation of a self-regulatory organization for digital commodities like [B]itcoin and [E]thereum” Business Insider reports.

The first meeting of the newly created association is set to take place in September this year. Business Insider quotes its source as explaining the kinds of problems the group wants to help solve:
“In equities, securities exchanges have their own organization to come up with common standards and jointly respond to declarations by regulators. The new group could serve as the equivalent for the crypto world by coming up with best practices for the industry, looking at ways to boost liquidity, and stamping out market manipulation.”
The Association has been founded by four U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchanges: bitFlyerGemini, which was established in 2014 by the Winklevoss brothers, Bitstamp, and a cryptocurrency exchange and wallet service Bittrex.

Meanwhile, one of the largest U.S. crypto exchanges Coinbase is not a part of the group, and has refused to comment on the initiative, Business Insider claims.

Earlier this summer, Winklevoss twins had won a patent for a system of exchange-traded products (ETPs) that could hold “digital assets” and “other products and/or services related to ETPs holding digital assets.”

Back in spring 2018, cryptocurrency exchange Gemini had announced its partnership with Nasdaqto monitor markets and mitigate the consequences of market manipulation, Cointelegraph reported April 25.




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SouthKorean watchdog the Financial Services Commission (FSC) has urged lawmakers to hasten their approval of the country’s first cryptocurrency bill, Bloomberg reports July 26.

Hong Seong-ki, head of the FSC’s virtual currency response team, has reportedly warned of the security and money laundering risks courted by the country’s domestic crypto exchanges. Bloomberg cites Seong-ki as saying that:

“While crypto markets have seen rapid growth, such trading platforms don’t seem to be well-enough prepared in terms of security. We’re trying to legislate the most urgent and important things first, aiming for money-laundering prevention [AML] and investor protection. The bill should be passed as soon as possible.”

In May, the FSC joined a probe that was initiated by Korea’s Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) into anti-money laundering (AML) compliance among exchanges. The impetus for Seoul to formalize regulators’ oversight has likely been reinforced by two recent high-profile exchange hacks.

Bloomberg notes that a draft bill introduced by Korea’s ruling party in March would bring exchanges under the direct aegis of the FSC, but still requires approval by the National Assembly.

Seong-ki is further quoted as saying that if the bill is passed, the FSC’s oversight would not imply “an official endorsement of crypto trading,” but would allow the watchdog to “police” exchanges’ operations effectively, rather than in any way “promote their growth.”

Earlier this month, Cointelegraph reported on plans for an extraordinary session of the Assembly to be held July 13 to 26 for lawmakers to further review draft regulations for cryptocurrencies, Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and blockchain.

Meanwhile, three Korean ministries are said to be working to produce the final draft of a new blockchain industry classification scheme by the end of the month. The draft could potentially redefine the status of crypto exchanges and recognize them as regulated financial institutions, as opposed to their previous classification as “communication vendors.”

This is arguably a pivotal moment in which Seoul is reviewing its stance towards crypto and blockchain, with the fresh news that the government has pledged to introduce friendly blockchain investment legislation, as well as indications this spring that it plans to reverse its blanket ban on domestic ICOs.




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A Russian court has overturned a previous court decision to block a bitcoin-related website because it contains information about cryptocurrencies. The Supreme Court ordered the city court to hear the appeal.


Russian Court Overturned Previous Decision


Russian Court Overturns Decision to Block Bitcoin Website
St. Petersburg City Court.

The St. Petersburg City Court has overturned the ruling of the Vyborgsky District Court of St. Petersburg to block the Bitcoininfo.ru website in Russia.
“The St. Petersburg City Court quashed the decision of the district court to recognize the information posted on the Bitcoininfo.ru website,” Tass reported the city court explaining on Monday, June 4.

“Vyborg District Court of St. Petersburg will again consider the case of the blocking of the site on cryptocurrencies, www.bitcoininfo.ru,” Rapsi learned from the city court, adding:
The city court canceled the decision to block the site and sent the case [back] to the Vyborgsky District Court for a new hearing.

Problem With Spreading Crypto Information

This case began in July 2016 when the St. Petersburg Vyborgsky District Court made the ruling to block the Bitcoininfo.ru website in absence of the site owner. The court “considered the statement of the prosecutor’s office that the site contains information about cryptocurrencies” and decided to block the site, the publication detailed.

Russian Court Overturns Decision to Block Bitcoin Website  

According to the case file, Tass explained that the prosecutor’s office demanded the site be blocked based on its content about cryptocurrencies that “do not lend themselves to state control,” “promote the growth of the shadow economy,” and “do not have certain consumer properties.”
The representative of the website’s owner, Sarkis Darbinyan, told the publication that the prosecutor’s actions “takes place without the involvement of site owners,” adding that none of them received “requests for the removal of prohibited information, and the city court refuses to accept appeals after the actual blocking of websites.”
He further detailed:
According to the statements of the prosecutor’s office of St. Petersburg, about 100 sites devoted to cryptocurrencies have been blocked.
The domain administrator appealed against the court’s decision, believing it to be illegal. However, the city court did not consider his appeal so he appealed to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, which subsequently ordered the city court to consider his complaint.

In March, the St. Petersburg City Court struck down a ban on 40 bitcoin-related websites offering information about cryptocurrencies and exchange services in Russia, as news.Bitcoin.com previously reported.

Do you think bitcoin websites will finally be unblocked in Russia? Let us know in the comments section 




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This month the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released a report on global monetary policy in the digital age which explains that “crypto assets may one day reduce demand for central bank money.” The IMF study was written after an IMF staff discussion that details that cryptocurrencies could someday lower the demand for fiat currencies by creating a shift from “credit money to commodity money.”


Crypto Assets Will Eventually Be More Widely Adopted

One thing is for sure the IMF has a lot to say these days about Bitcoin technology and other cryptocurrency solutions. More recently the Managing Director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, has had a lot of positive words to say about digital currencies. Moreover, the IMF also showcased a picture of money evolving featuring a picture of a bitcoin which was displayed on the front page of the  IMF website. Now the IMF has released a report written by a variety of IMF researchers who state:
We cannot rule out the possibility that some crypto assets will eventually be more widely adopted and fulfill more of the functions of money in some regions or private e-commerce networks.
IMF Report Details Cryptocurrencies Could Create Less Demand for Fiat
This picture is displayed on one of the articles featured on the IMF website’s front page.

A Payment Shift


The study notes that the global financial crisis and bank bailouts have “renewed skepticism in some quarters” of the world and there’s a possibility that digital assets can affect the traditional global monetary policies. There’s also talk of a “payment shift” within the study where cryptocurrencies could replace fiat in some regions.

“Such a shift could also portend a change in the way money is created in the digital age: from credit money to commodity money, we may move full circle back to where we were in the Renaissance,” explains the IMF report.
Economists continue to debate the origins of money, and why monetary systems seem to have alternated between commodity and credit money throughout history. If crypto assets indeed lead to a more prominent role for commodity money in the digital age, the demand for central bank money is likely to decline.

         
“Not so long ago, some experts argued that personal computers would never be adopted, and that tablets would only be used as expensive coffee trays, so I think it may not be wise to dismiss virtual currencies,” said the Managing Director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde in September of 2017.

Competitive Pressure and the Allure of the Central Bank Coin

The IMF paper also details how banks should respond with competitive pressure and they should continue to solidify fiat currencies as a “unit of account.” Cryptocurrencies, however, have a hard time becoming a standard unit of account the IMF notes and this is because “valuation is largely based on beliefs that are not well anchored” which has made the majority of digital currencies quite volatile.

The researcher’s paper mentions that central banks could counteract with their own digital currencies. It goes on to say that the banks have many challenges and opportunities in this digital age but they must regain the public’s trust to remain relevant. “They can remain relevant by providing more stable units of account than crypto assets and by making central bank money attractive as a medium of exchange in the digital economy,” the IMF paper concludes.

What do you think about the IMF’s report and how positive this organization is towards cryptocurrencies? Let us know your thoughts in the comments




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For investors who lack the time, knowledge, or patience to sift through hundreds of cryptocurrencies, there’s an easier way. Crypto baskets allow traders to snap up a horde of digital assets in one go, without the need to independently manage them. The number of platforms offering token baskets has grown significantly this year. But are they a smart investment for the savvy trader or a niche product best left to newbs?

A Bountiful Basket of Crypto Assets

2018 was meant to be the year of security tokens, or at least that’s what we were promised in 2017. There’s still time for that prediction to be proven correct, but in the meantime 2018’s big token trend is crypto baskets. These comprise curated suites of digital assets, often based around a specific theme, that can be purchased via a single token or on a crypto exchange with a single click.

So far, crypto baskets have been largely geared around “entry level” tokens such as LTC and ETH.Coinbase Index Fund gives investors exposure to all assets listed on GDAX, but since these comprise various weightings of BTC, BCH, ETH, and LTC only, there’s little imagination on display. Nor is there an entry route for retail investors; you’ll need at least $250,000 to buy in. Not all basket-based services are as exclusive though.

One Basket, Many Tokens

On Tuesday June 5, a service called Flipside Crypto released a basket that was created in conjunction with Coinmetrics.io. Its smart contracts basket of the day contained eight Proof of Work coins. At the start of each new day, a new basket is created, with each one rated according to its volatility, developer activity, and other metrics.Dailycryptobasket.com is a novel take on crypto baskets to date, and one which shows there’s scope for originality and innovation in this field.

Cryptocurrency Baskets Are Growing in Popularity
Daily Crypto Basket’s selection of themed tokens

Set Protocol is a project that’s taking a different approach to serving up collateralized baskets of tokens. Sets of ERC20 tokens can be grouped together using smart contracts and exchanged via a single token. Then there are projects like  FCTF (First Crypto Traded Fund), which aims to peg the price of 10 digital assets to a single token. It even enables token holders to profit from fees paid to a Dash masternode in theory.

As a relatively new trading option, crypto baskets have yet to prove themselves or to gain mass adoption. They also face competition from tokenized projects that enable traders to follow the profile of experienced traders and to have their trades automatically emulated, with all profits paid back in the form of yet more tokens. For now, crypto baskets are still viewed as “starter packs” best suited to new traders. With China’s Okex having just launched its OK06 Exchange-Traded Tracker, days after Huobi issued its own basket of 10 tokens, crypto investors will soon be in need of baskets to hold their baskets of tokens.

Do you think token baskets will take off, or are they a niche product best left to novice traders? Let us know in the comments section 




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A collection of recent funding news from the cryptocurrency ecosystem shows that despite record amounts of money raised by ICOs, the traditional route of raising funds from venture capital firms is still going strong. And cryptocurrency exchanges are involved both as investment targets and investors. 

Chinese Crypto Wallet Imtoken Raises $10 Million to Expand Internationally

 
Venture firm IDG Capital has invested $10 million in the Series A funding round by Imtoken, a Chinese startup behind a cryptocurrency wallet app reportedly used by 4 million people. The two sides have yet to disclose any details of the company’s financials or its valuation following the round.

The founder of the wallet company, Ben He, told Bloomberg that IDG’s investment will be used to fund an expansion beyond its home market of China, where 70% of users still come from. The plans include opening a new office in Singapore and hiring more staff, after it already tripled to 30 people over the last ago. Further according to the report, Imtoken also plans to expand its services for institutional investors following the development of new security features.

Itbit (Paxos) Raises $65 Million

Paxos, the New York-based company behind institutional bitcoin exchange Itbit, has announced on Thursday it has raised $65 million from investors including venture capital firms RRE Ventures and Liberty City Ventures. In May 2015, the company obtained a trust company charter and opened the first regulated bitcoin exchange in the US. Itbit offers bitcoin traders access to both a global exchange and OTC trading desk.

Paxos plans to use the new $65 million in funding to expand its operations. “We will use the capital to help grow the business which is broadly our settlement business on the Paxos side and the crypto asset exchange and custodian on the itBit side,” Chief Executive Charles Cascarilla said.

$1 Billion Binance Fund


Besides established VC funds, elements from within the crypto  ecosystem are also choosing to support the
 development of other startups. Exchanges for example, who made an absolute killing in 2017, have gotten into the action. The most notable of these is Binance, which recently announced a $1 billion Community Influence Fund and another Binance Ecosystem Fund with 20 future partners.

And yesterday we reported that, Huobi has joined forces with Chinese VC New Margin Capital and Korean online brokerage Kiwoom Securities to jointly launch a 100 billion won ($93 million) investment fund.

What do these developments mean for crypto startup companies? Share your thoughts in the comments section 




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Businesses and investors alike went on record this week to pan Google for its cryptocurrencyadvertisement ban which began June 1, The Independent reports Monday, June 4.

The controversial policy, which the internet giant originally announced in March, failed to significantly impact either Bitcoin or altcoin markets Monday, with BTC/USD sustaining new support around $7500.

Prices had increased markedly over the weekend, jumping almost $400 to reach highs over $7750.

As a correction gets underway, Google has come under fire in increasingly explicit terms for its decision to block cryptocurrency ad content while it pursues blockchain technology.

“I understand that Facebook and Google are under a lot of pressure to regulate what their users are reading, but they are still advertising gambling websites and other unethical practices,” Phillip Nunn, CEO of UK investment firm Blackmore Group with £70 mln under management, said to The Independent Monday.

Both Facebook and Twitter have moved to implement similar bans this year, despite the latter’s CEO forecasting that Bitcoin would become a “single world currency” as soon as 2028.

Suspecting a targeted move, Nunn suggested that like Facebook, Google was moving to prepare the way for its own, centralized virtual asset.

“I suspect the ban has been implemented to fit in with potential plans to introduce their own cryptocurrency to the market in the near future and therefore removing other crypto adverts allows them to do it on their own terms,” he added.

Meanwhile, UK disruptor bank Revolut, which in April completed a $250 mln funding round to achieve a $1.7 bln valuation, warned the policy failed to distinguish legitimate companies from bad actors.

“Unfortunately, the fact that this ban is a blanket ban will mean that legitimate cryptocurrency businesses which provide valuable services to users will be unfairly caught in the crossfire,” head of mobile at digital banking Ed Cooper commented.




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All parties represented in the Spanish Congress have voiced support for a new draft legislation introducing favorable crypto regulations in the country. We’ve covered the details in today’s edition of Bitcoin in Brief. Also, Slovenia adopts a crypto action plan, Estonia drops plans to issue a national cryptocurrency, and Hungary claims it’s ready to join the global blockchain market.  


Spanish Parties Call for Favorable Crypto Regulations

Lawmakers in Spain, who have earlier this year reviewed proposals to introduce incentives for crypto companies, have now issued a unanimous call for adopting regulations that favor the implementation of crypto and blockchain technologies. These should be introduced to the market “through controlled testing environments.” A draft legislation aimed at achieving the goal, proposed again by the ruling People’s Party, has just won support from all parliamentary groups in the Finance and Public Function Committee of the Spanish Congress.

The legislative initiative calls for promoting the advantages of the technology that underpins cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, including cost savings through the elimination of intermediaries in payments and transfers and the benefits it offers when it comes to raising capital, especially for startups. Its sponsors urge support for projects to build authorized blockchain technology networks, Europa Press reported.

The draft approved by Spain’s leading parties also turns attention to the perils associated with crypto-related operations, calling for “adequate dissemination of information about the risks” assumed by investors, as well as their rights and the guarantees they can rely on. According to Spanish deputies, the approach will help to avoid “economic damages that are impossible to repair”, such as those linked to high-risk financial products.

Lawmakers call on the government in Madrid to support the initiative and join the efforts of the National Securities Market Commission and the Bank of Spain in that direction. They also insist on reaching a common position in regards to the use and the regulation of cryptocurrencies on European level and ask the executive branch of power to work with other EU countries and institutions to achieve that.

Slovenia Adopts Crypto and Blockchain Action Plan

 The government in Ljubljana has adopted an action plan to underpin the implementation of blockchain technology in Slovenia and create a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies. According to the Economy Ministry, the plan entails a series of measures designed to also regulate Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). Slovenian authorities hope to establish a safe and stable legal environment to help the creation, growth and development of blockchain technology-based projects and startups.

Another goal is to transpose in the national legislation the legal provisions adopted by European and other relevant institutions, STA reported. Local officials believe that the application of blockchain technologies can improve the competitiveness of the Slovenian economy. The government also backed the creation of a European Blockchain Hub as a link between public and private stakeholders in the field, both in Slovenia and within the EU. On Thursday, the Slovenian Ministry of Economy was tasked to get actively involved in the hub.

Estonia Backpedals on Plans for National Crypto

Estonian officials have scaled down plans to issue a national cryptocurrency, which were criticized some time ago by both the European Central Bank and local banking authorities. According to Siim Sikkut, who is in charge of the country’s IT strategy, Estonia has dropped its intentions to peg the Estcoin to the common European currency and offer it to all citizens. The digital tokens will instead be distributed as an incentive to e-residents of the Baltic country, Sikkut said in an interview, Bloombergreported. These are foreign nationals who use Estonia’s electronic identification system to remotely sign documents and set up companies.

The tech-savvy former Soviet republic was one of the first European nations to come up with plans for a national cryptocurrency. Similar initiatives have been discussed in Sweden, Switzerland, Poland, the UK, and other countries. The idea, however, was not appreciated by the ECB management. In September, the bank’s president, Mario Draghi, criticized the proposal declaring that “No member state can introduce its own currency. The currency of the Eurozone is the euro.”

“We agreed in discussions with politicians that Estcoin will proceed as a means for transactions inside the e-resident community. Other options aren’t on the table. We’re not building a new currency,” Siim Sikkut said. This was confirmed by the author of the Estcoin plan, Kaspar Korjus, who also noted that the details are still being analyzed for potential benefits. Estcoin “would definitely not be a national ‘cryptocurrency’,” he emphad. Estonia’s e-residency program has so far issued ID cards to more than 35,000 foreigners. The majority of the participants are from Finland, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

Hungary Prepared to Join the Global Blockchain Market

Blockchaineum 2.0, arguably the largest blockchain summit in Central and Eastern Europe, recently gathered major stakeholders in Budapest to discuss blockchain-based solutions and other hot topics related to the implementation of the technology around the world. While many in Europe are just starting to take blockchain seriously, Hungary has been preparing for some time and now claims it’s ready to join the global blockchain market.
“Many regulatory rules have been laid down recently on European level, and it is in Hungary’s best interest to make use of them in order to become a regional center. Although, this won’t happen because of regulation, but rather on purely market basis,” said Tamás Czeglédi, quoted by the Budapest Business Journal. He is one of the organizers of the event and is working to put his country on the European blockchain map.

Hungarian business wants to jump on the blockchain bandwagon ahead of regional competitors and it has created a Blockchain Competence Center (BCC) earlier this year to prove its intentions. “Whereas the EU had been focusing on regulation until around a year ago, the past few months saw a shift towards a more practical approach,” said Péter Benedek, the CEO of BCC. “The newly established Ministry for Innovation and Technology, along with the enhanced national digital wellbeing strategy, can help local blockchain players embrace innovative solutions and improve their fundraising potential,” he added.

What are your thoughts on today’s Bitcoin in Brief topics? Let us know in the comments section.




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Last January news.Bitcoin.com reported on the Brisbane Airport in Australia preparing to accept cryptocurrencies. Now today all the merchants and airport terminals accept various digital assets such as bitcoin core, dash, ethereum, and steem making it one of the friendliest cryptocurrency airports in the world.

Merchants at Brisbane International Airport Now Accept Various Cryptocurrencies  


Individuals traveling to Brisbane or the South East Queensland area in Australia can now spend various cryptocurrencies at the Brisbane International Airport. The airport is the third busiest airstrip in the country and every merchant there now accepts digital currencies. The cryptocurrency acceptance is due to Brisbane Airport Corporations’ (BAC) partnership with the Australian payment provider  Travelbybit. On May 29, the Youtube channel, Nugget’s News Australia, visited the Brisbane airport when the new system was implemented. The host of  the video Alex talked detailed that Brisbane is the first international airport that’s entirely “crypto-friendly.”

The Youtube channel Nugget’s News Australia visits Brisbane International Airport the day cryptocurrencies were implemented.

Caleb Yeoh, CEO of Travelbybit explains that people can visit the company’s website to see live transactions.
“We’ve got travelers from all over the world testing it out and I think the merchants are really excited — They have been telling us they have been getting a lot of interaction from all the different visitors and that’s created a bit of a buzz,” Yeoh explained during the video.
Blockchain technology has the ability to make transactions and global commerce a lot more efficient and a lot more transparent.  

Helping Retailers Maintain Relevance and Resilience

The representative from BAC explained that it is important for the company to give passengers choice when traveling to the airport. The BAC executive detailed that the partnership with Travelbybit helps their retailers maintain “relevance and resilience against the threat of online shopping.” Additionally, he stated that BAC would learn about cryptocurrency and blockchain solutions so it could possibly help further operations within the international airport.

“We’re happy to partner with Caleb and help our retailers explore this brave new world of cryptocurrency,” the BAC executive further noted.

What do you think about Brisbane International Airport accepting cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments below.




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Averaging more than a million onboardings per year, Philippines’ Coins.ph announced it reached a whopping five million users this week for its mobile payments application (app) and hot crypto wallet. Not content with merely adding numbers for their own sake, the company also revealed it would add two new popular coins: bitcoin cash (BCH) and ether (ETH).

Philippines’ Coins.ph Hits 5mil User Milestone


Founder Ron Hose enthusiastically explained, “We are excited and proud to provide 5 million customers with access to financial services. Our focus on creating financial inclusion to all Filipinos has propelled our growth to date.”

Many of the southeast Asian archipelago’s inhabitants struggle with inadequate economic opportunities and poor financial services. Nearly half of the Philippines is living on close to $2 a day, and its central bank, Bagko Sentral ng Pilipinas, estimated early last year that 86% of Philippines’ citizens are unbanked – bereft of basic banking services used by folks in the West every day.

 
Those factors just might be features rather than bugs when it comes to cryptocurrency adoption. Indeed, for relatively smooth economies in the West, money is already digitized for all intents and purposes. Crypto adoption, as a result, in the West has been a bit of struggle: the immediate argument gets lost in money that ‘works,’ and works well.

For Filipinos to become one’s own bank, in effect, relying less on financial legacy permission and trust, a peer-to-peer currency out of view of its notoriously corrupt government seems to be proving very attractive if Coins.ph numbers are any indication.

Coins.ph Adds Bitcoin Cash (BCH)


“Millions of our customers have already used Coins.ph’s web and mobile apps to access a wide array of financial services,” CEO Ron Hosecontinued, “including buying load, paying bills, topping up their beep™ card, and purchasing digital currencies, all without needing a bank account.”

Five million users has come in only four years for the company. It was founded by Runar Petursson and Mr. Hose, both Silicon Valley veterans. Their services are a way for Filipinos to become banked, a potential market of over 300,000 people. In the past two years, it has raised a total of $10mil in venture capital funding, indicating investors believe the company to be “on” to something.

Users of the company’s platform can take advantage of ever-important remittance services, card top-ups, wallet transfers, paying bills, and even online shopping. Just the mere notion of a friction-filled economy (as is the case within the Philippines), flattening and becoming more streamline would seem to forecast wonderful economic advancements for the nation, at least theoretically.  

“Responding to consumer demand for additional blockchain-based services,” the company notes it has already rolled out ether (ETH) acceptance in addition to its existing bitcoin core (BTC) offering, “with an eye for future smart contract based financial services, and will also begin supporting Bitcoin Cash (BCH) next month, in an effort to support lower cost blockchain based payments.”

Do you think more emerging economies will embrace crypto? Let us know in the comments. 




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Hostile or just overly cautions countries keep losing cryptocurrency-related businesses to more attractive jurisdictions, along with the jobs and tax money that go along with them. The latest example comes from Poland, which Bitbay has been forced to leave for Malta.


Farewell Poland


Poland-based international cryptocurrency exchange, Bitbay, has announced its decision to suspend the activity of the trading platform in Poland. Founded in 2014 in Katowice, the company is said to have over 200 employees and 800,000 users. The reason for the exit from its home market is that Bitbay can no longer receive banking services in the country.

“The activity of the Bitbay exchange in Poland requires cooperation with Polish bank. Unfortunately the last Polish bank ready to provide bank services undertook unilateral decision to finish the cooperation with Bitbay with the effect at the end of May. In those circumstances the continuation of providing high quality services by Bitbay exchange in Poland is no longer possible,” the company stated.

The move will occur in a couple of phases. After May 31st, access to PLN accounts will not be possible, but all other functions of the exchange in Poland will still be active. After the expiry of the notice period, September 18th, users will only be able to withdraw funds, and trading on the Bitbay exchange in Poland will be completely suspended. The exchange operations will be conducted by a new supplier in Malta with the same software that was used by the exchange in Poland, based on the domain bitbay.net under the Bitbay trademark.

Welcome to Malta

In explaining the specific location it is moving the exchange operations to, the company’s team say they have been conducting analysis for many months in order to find the most cryptocurrency-friendly place in the European Union. “Productive discussions with the government of Republic of Malta and friendly business environment provide Bitbay assurance that the choice of Maltese jurisdiction is the best solution.”

As we previously reported, the Maltese government’s has successfully focused on bringing in more international cryptocurrency business to booster the local economy this year. Back in March, Binance revealed that it would be moving its operations and starting to recruit 200 people to work on the island. In April,  Okex announced it is also establishing its own entity in Malta.

Should exchanges move to friendlier locations or try and fight in the local courts? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 

 




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