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By: Marie Huillet

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published a statement requiring businesses to seek authorization for dealing in cryptocurrency derivatives on its website Friday, April 6.

The statement clarifies that trading, transacting and advising on cryptocurrency derivatives is an activity which falls under the “Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (MiFID 2),” which was introduced as a part of the EU’s Jan. 2018 financial reforms.

The FCA stipulates that although cryptocurrencies are not considered currencies or commodities that require regulation, derivatives referring to cryptocurrencies or ICO tokens are capable of being “financial instruments,” and thus fall within its regulatory perimeter.

The FCA includes 3 examples of crypto derivatives: futures, contracts for differences (CFDs), and options.

CFDs based on crypto-assets track the price of the underlying asset and allow investors to borrow money for their bets in order to chase high leverage returns. Importantly, they do not need to own any of the cryptocurrency itself.

In late March the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) strengthened requirements for crypto-backed CFDs, citing the high price volatility of cryptocurrencies as its main concern.

The FCA’s position echoes that of another European regulator, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), earlier this year, which likewise sought to clarify the definition of derivativesafter online crypto trading platforms began offering binary options, CFDs, and Forex contracts.

Beyond Europe, Bitcoin futures are a popular derivative making inroads into the world of regulated finance, with banks such as Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs both clearing futures contracts for some clients after their launch on derivatives exchanges CME Group (Dec. 2017) and CBOE (Jan. 2018).

The post UK’s Financial Regulator Releases Guidelines For Dealing In Crypto Derivatives appeared first on Bitcoin XYZ.

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By: Helen Partz

US investment fund Soros Fund Management, which currently operates about $26 bln in assets, will reportedly be investing in cryptocurrencies, despite the fact that the head of the fund George Soros earlier claimed that crypto is a “bubble”, Bloomberg reported Friday, April 6.

According to Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter, Adam Fisher, who is responsible for global macroeconomic investing at Soros Fund Management, has already received internal approval for cryptocurrency operations, but he has not started trading yet.

In a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Jan. 25, Soros argued that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) cannot be considered currency due to their volatility, and that their value is speculative:

“Bitcoin is not a currency because a currency is supposed to be a stable store of value and the currency that can fluctuate 25% in a day can’t be used for instance to pay wages because wages drop by 25% in a day. It’s a speculation. Based on a misunderstanding.”

While criticizing the major cryptocurrency in January, the legendary macro trader did not provide any price predictions. Meanwhile, crypto markets have lost almost 50 percent by the end of the first quarter 2018.

Soros became involved in cryptocurrency activity earlier last year. In 2017, George Soros’ investment fund became the third-largest shareholder in Overstock.com, the first major retail company to accept Bitcoin as a payment option.

Launched in 1969, Soros Fund Management made its name in 1992 for its drastic bets against  the British pound, which made Soros “The Man Who Broke the Bank of England.”

The post Soros Fund Management Plans To Launch Cryptocurrency Trading, Report Says appeared first on Bitcoin XYZ.

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By: Molly Jane Zuckerman

The Spanish Tax Agency (AEAT) has sent information requests for customer data to 60 companies associated with cryptocurrencies, including financial firms, intermediaries like crypto exchanges and ATMs, and companies that accept crypto as a payment option, local news outlet El Economista reported yesterday, April 5.

El Economista notes that the AEAT has already begun an examination of the crypto markets in order to develop a potential regulatory framework.

As part of a National Office of Fraud Investigation (ONIF) analysis of bank accounts located abroad that had been opened by crypto exchanges, 16 financial entities registered in Spain were sent information requests by AEAT, El Economista reports.

These financial entities have been asked to provide details on account ownership, crypto transaction frequency and amounts, and the payment card identification linked to the crypto-associated accounts. Intermediaries like crypto exchanges have been asked to identify crypto traders and the euro amounts of their transactions, including the details on how exchange rates and commissions are determined. Crypto ATMs are asked to provide leasing contracts, the monthly average of crypto sales, and what payment forms were used for crypto transactions.

Forty companies that accept crypto payments have been asked to detail what percentage they charge in crypto and their accounting framework for crypto transactions, as well as to identify their crypto-using customers and other firms that accept crypto as payments, El Economista reports.

According to part of a document allegedly detailing the information requests made by Spain’s Treasury, the different types of cryptocurrencies used in transactions must be distinguished in the reports as well.

The Spanish People’s Party recently announced in mid-February that they are considering legislation that would give tax breaks to companies that use Blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrencies.

The post Spain’s Tax Regulator Sends User Data Requests To 60 Crypto-Related Companies appeared first on Bitcoin XYZ.

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By: Helen Partz

Indian Bitcoin (BTC) entrepreneurs and notorious alleged scammers Amit Bhardwaj and his brother, Vivek Bharadwaj, were arrested on April 4,  accused of scamming about 8,000 investors out of ₹2,000 crores (about $300 mln) Business Insider India reported today, April 6.

The brothers launched and ran a number of crypto-based ventures, including India’s first Bitcoin mining platform GBMiners. The move to arrest then was carried out by India’s central bank Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Enforcement Directorate (ED), and the Cybercrime Cell of Pune Police, following the official complaint filed by a businessman Parvendra Singh.

In 2013, the two founded GainBitcoin, an investment scheme with a cloud-based platform for trading and mining Bitcoin. The platform allegedly turned out to be a Ponzi scheme that guaranteed 10 percent monthly returns within 18 months. MCAP, the token issued by GainBitcoin in an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), is considered to be a fraud, as the company has artificially manipulated the price of the token many times higher than its actual market price.

The Bhardwaj’s Ponzi-like schemes have cause uproar on social media over the years.

vivek padsala@vivek_padsala

Totally appreciated @amitbitcoin hope to see more developments from the team so generations can keep investing in MCAP.

Ravin Saluja@RS376

@amitbitcoin is a scamster.. Don’t invest with him. He can’t come to India, if hes in India n people come to know. He would be killed

According to information acquired by Factor Daily, one of many victims of the GainBitcoin Ponzi scheme is now being forced to take his funds in MCAP tokens instead of Bitcoin, as  delineated in the company’s contract.

MCAP is trading at about $0.11 at press time, up a whopping 65 percent on the day. In June 2017, it was trading at almost $8, according to data from CoinMarketCap.

“If I had just invested in Bitcoins and not GainBitcoin, today I would have made several times the money. MCAP was forced onto us and was not the payout was supposed to be in Bitcoins according to the original contract,” said the victim.

In 2017, Amit Bhardwaj published several books about Blockchain and Cryptocurrency, such as ‘Cryptocurrency For Beginners’, ‘Cryptocurrency Trading’ and ‘Cryptocurrency Mining’, aiming to attract middle-class investors into cryptocurrency.

Other crypto-related ventures of Bhardwaj include e-commerce platform HighKart, GB21 crypto-mining platform, Amaze Mining & Blockchain Research firm, and CoinBank Wallet.

Earlier this week, RBI announced that it will stop providing services associated with cryptocurrencies, adding that it is seeking to launch its own cryptocurrency in future.

The post India: Crypto ‘Scamsters’ Bhardwaj Brothers Arrested For Duping Investors Out Of $300 Mln appeared first on Bitcoin XYZ.

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By: William Suberg

Users of anonymity-focused altcoin Monero (XMR) continue to wait with baited breath after the cryptocurrency hard forked Friday, April 6.

In an attempt to protect the cryptocurrency against ASIC miners, the altcoin’s developers successfully completed the transfer to version 7 of Monero, creator Riccardo Spagni confirming the move in typically tongue-in-cheek style on social media:

The contentious hard fork comes as the Monero community has gained several forks, some ostensibly aiming to preserve the ASIC-compatible chain and others promising various other improvements and features.

Among the alternative chains are Monero Original and Monero Classic.

The motivation behind the latest upgrade meanwhile lies with hardware manufacturer Bitmain. In March, the Chinese company announced a new product, the Antminer X3, which was specifically developed to mine Monero.

Fearing mass use of the kind of ASIC offered by Bitmain would make the network more centralized by forcing small-time miners using home PCs and other devices out, Spagni led a retaliation by pledging to “do everything in his power” to halt their proliferation.

As of press time, sporadic reports of teething problems were all that was coming from the Monero subreddit as users wait for the dust to settle on the fork.

The post Monero Hard Fork Appears Successful As Devs Shun Bitmain’s ASIC Miners appeared first on Bitcoin XYZ.

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By: Molly Jane Zuckerman

A survey of male employees in Japan from ages 25-30 shows that 14 percent of the participants own cryptocurrency, according to data published April 3 by Shin R25, an online magazine for young businessmen.

4,734 men nationwide participated in the Shin R25 “Questionnaire Survey on Virtual Currency” from January 2018 to March 2018. According to the survey, over a quarter of respondents that owned crypto reported that it was their first investment experience.

Of the young Japanese male employees that own crypto, 92 percent said that they entered the crypto markets “for investment,” 37.4 percent “for the time being because it is a trend,” and 19.9 percent due to “acquaintance and media recommended information.”

In regards to the value of respondents holdings, 34.5 percent own less than 50,000 yen (about $469) of crypto, while only 10.2 percent owned 1 mln yen or more ($9,360 or more).

The majority of respondents, 24.3 percent, bought their crypto assets between October and December 2017, while 15 percent bought them when “the price fell sharply” in “2018 or later.”

When asked about their future plans for their cryptocurrency investments, 47.1 percent reported that they “would like to actively invest” in the future and 35.4 percent that they “do not intend to continue investing.”

Cointelegraph contributor Joseph Young tweeted about the survey results, noting his surprise at what he called a “high adoption rate:”

Joseph Young@iamjosephyoung

A study found that 14% of employees in Japan aged 20~25 years already invested in or hold cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and Ethereum.

This is a surprisingly high adoption rate, I expected less than 10%, even in a leading cryptocurrency market like Japan.http://news.mk.co.kr/newsRead.php?sc=30000018&year=2018&no=215053 …

日 25-30세 직장 남성의 14% 가상화폐 보유

일본 25~30세 회사원의 14%가 가상화폐를 보유·운용하고 있는 것으로 조사됐다. 4일 인터넷 광고업체 사이버 에이전트의 자회사 `신(新)R25`의 설문조사에 따르면 보유자의 90% 이상이 가상화폐(암호화폐)를 `투자목적`으로 보유하고 있었

news.mk.co.kr

Japan’s cryptocurrency sector was shaken at the beginning of this year by a hack of around around $534 mln in NEM at the Japanese crypto exchange Coincheck. In the aftermath of the hack, Japan’s Financial Services Agency carried out on-site inspections of 15 unregistered crypto exchanges in the country, eventually sending business improvement notices to 7 and temporarily halting operations at 2 more.

The post 14 Percent Of Japan’s Young Male Workforce Invest In Cryptocurrencies, Study Shows appeared first on Bitcoin XYZ.

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By: Gareth Jenkinson

Social media platforms have recently banned advertising for cryptocurrencies and ICOs, but that stance is contradictory to the thoughts of their directors.

In January, the social network giant Facebook outlawed cryptocurrency related advertising in an effort to protect users from various ICO scams, fraudulent token sales, Ponzi schemes and the likes.

It has set a precedent that is now being followed by other platforms and service – but this disparaging move is at odds with the sentiments of the heads of these businesses.

The people responsible for the creation of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have been singing praises for cryptocurrencies and their underlying Blockchain technology.

It creates a bit of a juxtaposition, as the companies they are responsible have enforced sanctions that potentially stifle the adoption and development of Blockchain.

In order to unpack this disconnect, let’s take a look at what the likes of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey think about the developing technology.

Facebook and Instagram

At the beginning of 2018, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg made some positive comments about cryptocurrencies in a post on Facebook. He focused on the potential benefits they have for businesses like Facebook, as well as the power they hand back to people.

He honed in on an issue that is becoming increasingly talked about – centralization versus decentralization. As CNBC reported, Facebook was in the spotlight for a number of negative issues mainly related to its ad-services and their capabilities.

“There are important counter-trends to this, like encryption and cryptocurrency, that take power from centralized systems and put it back into people’s hands. I’m interested to go deeper and study the positive and negative aspects of these technologies, and how best to use them in our services.”

No more than two weeks later, Facebook announced that it would prohibit cryptocurrency related advertising on the platform, which was met with varying reactions from the wider cryptocurrency community.

Fast forward three months and Facebook was embroiled in one of the biggest scandals since its inception. In essence, the platform supplied personal data from over 50 mln users to political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

Zuckerberg took to Facebook to admit the company had made ‘mistakes’ while outlining what had led to Cambridge Analytica access to data from Facebook users. He has since taken out adverts in British newspapers to make a public apology, while Facebook has been hit with a swathe of lawsuits.

In an interview with CNN last week, Zuckerberg even suggested that Facebook could benefit from regulation – an issue that is hanging heavily over cryptocurrencies and ICOs this year:

“I’m actually not sure we shouldn’t be regulated. In general, technology is an increasingly important trend in the world and I actually think the question should be ‘what is the right regulation rather than ‘yes or no, should it be regulated.”

“On the basic side, there are things like ads transparency regulation that I would love to see. If you look at how much regulation there is around advertising on TV and in print, it’s just not clear why there should be less on the internet, you should have the same level of transparency required.”

Meanwhile one of the primary attributes of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is the ability to encrypt data giving anonymity and privacy to users.

Facebook’s move to ban cryptocurrency related advertising also applied to partner platforms Instagram and its advertising platform Audience Network.

Twitter CEO beams on Bitcoin

While Zuckerberg battles with Facebook’s ongoing woes, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has been waxing lyrical on Bitcoin of late.

In an interview with the Sunday Times issued on March 21, the Twitter and Square CEO forecast that Bitcoin could one day become the single global currency in ten years time.

“The world ultimately will have a single currency. The Internet will have a single currency. I personally believe that it will be Bitcoin, probably over ten years, but it could go faster.”

Having personally invested in Bitcoin, Dorsey is a staunch advocate for the virtual currency. He’s also the CEO of point-of-sale software startup Square, which would soon integrate a Bitcoin buy/sell functionality.

Furthermore, Dorsey also invested in Lightning Labs, which has seeded $2.5 mln to spearhead the development of the Lightning Network which promises to provide free and fast Bitcoin transactions.

While Dorsey is bullish on Bitcoin, he reiterated that startup companies like Lightning Labs hold the key to further adoption around the world:

“It’s slow and it’s costly, but as more and more people have it, those things go away. There are newer technologies that build off of Blockchain and make it more approachable.”

What is disconcerting is that Twitter is the latest social media platform to ban cryptocurrency advertising.

Murmurs of an impending ban last week were confirmed on March 27. Twitter will begin cutting out advertising of initial coin offerings and their token sales as well as global cryptocurrency wallet platforms if they are not publicly listed on select stock exchanges.

Once again, there is a clear disconnect between the thoughts and views of its leadership and the plans of the business itself.

Twitter has followed in the footsteps of Facebook. The social media platforms are trying to protect users from fraudulent companies and scams, which have taken advantage of many through advertising campaigns on social media networks.

However, that has painted everyone with the same brush. In essence, innovative startups with ingenious business plans have been stifled due to the actions of fraudsters and scam artists looking to ride the Blockchain and cryptocurrency wave.

An infamous example was John McAfee’s Twitter account being hacked and used to promote some obscure virtual currency tokens.

Furthermore, Twitter, in particular, has been rife with accounts impersonating well-known cryptocurrency advocators and accounts, which has caught unsuspecting users out.

Google to follow suit

The world’s biggest search engine, Google, is following in the footsteps of its social media cousins.

As reported in March, Google’s updated financial services policy will rule out all related cryptocurrency advertising through its AdWords service from June 2018. Once again, consumer protection is touted as the main driving factor behind the move.

There is an air of irony to Google’s move. While cryptocurrency adverts will come to an end, Google could actually be stifling the growth of companies it has invested in that directly use cryptocurrencies.

Companies like Blockchain based cloud storage Storj and payment platform Veem, which Google has backed financially, will in essence be unable to advertise on the search engine once the ban comes into effect.

The move to ban crypto advertising comes less than a year after Google’s parent company Alphabet invested in London-based online wallet Blockchain.info. It also remains to be seen how this service will be able to advertise on the search engine come June 2018.

At the time, Alphabet partner Tom Hulme said their investment in the company, which raised over $70 mln in overall funding, was essential because “the pace of innovation in the digital currency space is unmatched,” as quoted by Fortune.

And yet cryptocurrency wallet providers and promising ICOs will no longer have access to the world’s biggest search engine in two months time.

Other platforms

Snapchat is another massive social media platform to make a move against cryptocurrency advertising. They’ve instituted a similar ban on Facebook and Twitter, but have only prohibited adverts for initial coin offerings.

Ironically pioneering Snapchat investor, Jeremy Liew was bullish on Bitcoin and had some lofty price predictions for the preeminent cryptocurrency last year.

China has taken a hard stance against cryptocurrencies from a governmental level and that has filtered down to internet based companies in the country. In September 2017, the country ordered that all cryptocurrency exchanges must close down.

As reported by Recode, the likes of Alibaba and Tencent haven’t allowed this cryptocurrency related advertising for far longer. Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post revealed that it seems search engine Baidu is not returning adverts for any cryptocurrency related searches – only news articles and posts.

Russian search engine Yandex is also expected to follow suit – according to local media reports.

Where to from here?

This is a question that may not be answered for months. The whole world seems to be waiting for clear regulatory guidelines on cryptocurrencies and ICOs.

While the likes of the SEC pioneer this space, we may see continued apathy towards the promotion of ICOs and cryptocurrency tokens sales on most online platforms for some time.

Until there are firm guidelines in place that protect the majority of users from ICO scams and misleading investment opportunities, these extreme sanctions are likely to remain in effect.

The post Facebook, Google and Twitter Ban Ads, But Do Their Founders Really Dislike Crypto? appeared first on Bitcoin XYZ.

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By: Molly Jane Zuckerman

Ex-NFL player Evan Mathis, a member of the Broncos when they won the Super Bowl 50, is auctioning a $3.5 mln Mickey Mantle baseball card and is prepared to accept Bitcoin as payment, the AP reported on March 24.

The card, estimated to have value of $3.5 mln and described by Mantle as “kind of like the Mona Lisa of the sports card world,” is from the spring 1952 collection by Heritage Auctions. The AP notes that $3.12 mln was the highest price ever paid for a card before, when a 1909 Honus Wagner card sold in a 2016 auction.

Mathis, who is selling the card in order to purchase a new house for his family, told the AP that he would accept crypto for the card because “a lot of new money was created in crypto.”

“There’s a lot of people that might have some newfound riches that they might want to diversify with, and I just kind of wanted to spread the target market out a little bit and give those guys a chance to jump in.”

Cryptocurrencies and football have mixed before, as online fantasy leagues have begun offering rewards in Bitcoin (BTC), and this year’s Super Bowl ran an ad — featuring singer Lionel Richie — to advertise BTC futures.

The post Mickey Mantle Baseball Card Worth $3.5 Mln Goes To Bitcoin-Friendly Auction appeared first on Bitcoin XYZ.

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By: Helen Partz

Jed McCaleb, the co-founder of Ripple (XRP) and Stellar (XLM), as well as the creator of the infamous Mt. Gox cryptocurrency exchange, claimed that cryptocurrency and its underlying technology, Blockchain, should remain decentralized in order to succeed in the future, CNBC reported Friday, March 23.

In an interview on CNBC’s Fast Money, McCaleb said that the only other successful decentralized network he has ever seen is the Internet. In a fairly open critique of Ripple – a payment protocol company he co-founded in 2013, but has since left – McCaleb stated that the deployment of a centralized financial payment protocol in crypto would lead to “a system that is no better than SWIFT or PayPal.” He continued his Internet and Blockchain comparison, saying:

“The real vision is that you have a network, much like the internet, that anyone can participate in […] That’s the key thing to make these things successful.”

Earlier this week, McCaleb explained his vision for a Blockchain-powered “universal payments network”, also noting he thinks all equity will be tokenized by the year of 2028.

McCaleb is not the only high profile person making public comments on crypto and Blockchain this week. On March 22, Edward Snowden expressed concerns during an interview that the Bitcoin (BTC) Blockchain is “devastatingly public”, calling BTC’s public ledger its “long-lasting flaw”.

On March 21, Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter and payment service Square, told mainstream media that he sees a single future currency emerging for the world and Internet, adding “I personally believe that it will be Bitcoin.”

The post Co-Founder Of Ripple, Stellar: Blockchain Needs To Be Decentralized To Be Successful appeared first on Bitcoin XYZ.

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By: Molly Jane Zuckerman

Reddit has reportedly removed the option for users to pay for their premium membership program, Reddit Gold, in Bitcoin (BTC) citing an “upcoming Coinbase change”, according to a Reddit post in subreddit /r/btc published March 23.

Reddit user BitcoinXio posted a video of the steps to give another user Reddit Gold, showing that the only payment options are PayPal and credit card.

Reddit user emoney40, a moderator of several subreddits but not /r/btc, commented that the change is due to the Coinbase Commerce change:

“The upcoming Coinbase change, combined with some bugs around the Bitcoin payment option that were affecting purchases for certain users, led us to remove Bitcoin as a payment option.”

Coinbase posted on its Medium page in early March 2018 about retiring Coinbase Merchant Tools in place of Coinbase Commerce, which they acknowledged “may be disruptive to Coinbase Merchant Tool customers.” As of April 30, merchants that used Coinbase Merchant Tools will no longer have access to that product, with May 31 as the final date for the required switch to Coinbase Commerce.

User emoney40 also said that adding BTC back as a payment option is not a guarantee:

“We’re going to take a look at demand and watch the progression of Coinbase Commerce before making a decision on whether to reenable.”

Some Reddit users on the thread commented that they were not using BTC to pay for Reddit Gold anyway, due to the high transaction fees. However, in February BTC transaction fees dipped below the price of Bitcoin Cash (BCH) fees, which had been one of the main talking points of BTC’s competitors.

The post Reddit Reportedly Removes Bitcoin As Payment, Cites ‘Coinbase Change’ appeared first on Bitcoin XYZ.

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