France May Ban Anonymous Cryptocurrencies, Poloniex Reduces Trading Fees, and Tim Draper Weighs on Bitcoin Future
Governments and authorities are not yet ready to see the world move toward complete anonymous transactions, at least according to the French Finance Committee.
The Finance Committee on France’s National Assembly has submitted a report which lauds blockchain as an innovative technology but raised concerns about digital assets as Monero, DeepOnion, PIVX, and Zcash which offer complete anonymity to users.
The committee president Éric Woerth has proposed a ban on digital users that prevent the possibility of identifying the holders of the assets, arguing that these digital assets may aid financial crimes.
“We must be aware of the problems that crypto-assets may pose in terms of fraud or tax evasion, money laundering or fraud, or energy consumption,” said Woerth.
He wants to see domestic and international regulation that would lead to more transparency and security.
The French are not alone in this.
Last year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) expressed its intention to study the feasibility of tracking transactions facilitated by privacy coins.
Circle-owned cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex reduces trading fees
Circle-owned cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex is slashing trading fees for more than 99 percent of its users (based on historical volume data).
The exchange has also streamlined the trading tiers from 11 to 3. The recent changes make Poloniex one of the cheapest U.S.-based exchanges to trade on.
The exchange also launched a newly designated market maker program.
The new fee structure is based on a per-trade basis. The higher the trades volume on a 30-day rolling basis, the lower the fees on subsequent trades.
Circle, a tech firm that wants to be the PayPal of Bitcoin reportedly acquired Poloniex for $400 million almost a year ago. Circle has gone on to become one of the most important companies in the crypto sector and partnered with cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase to launch a stablecoin (USDC) last year.
Financial asset management firm launches a new cryptocurrency tracking ETF fund
A multi-product financial asset management firm ITI Funds announced the launch of the ITI Fund Crypto Index, an index fund with professional insurance and custody. Via press statement, the company said the new fund tracks a select number of digital assets using a traditional index-tracking style set up.
The new fund is based in Luxembourg and gives professional investors access to a growing asset class.
“This jurisdiction has been chosen due to its well-established legal regulation, asset-custodianship, and investor convenience,” said project manager Marat Krimskiy.
“The fund’s structure facilitates total transparency and legal compliance, and its operation is supported by leading service providers in Luxembourg as well as widely known US market professionals,” added Krimskiy.
The ITI Funds Crypto Index Fund tracks the top 30 digital assets by market capitalization.
Social trading platform eToro adds cryptocurrency trading for U.S. users
eToro, an Israeli-based social trading platform has launched a cryptocurrency trading platform that allows U.S. customers f to buy and sell digital assets.
The firm announced that the new service is open to clients in 32 U.S. states and will allow them to trade 13 unnamed cryptocurrencies. The platform also expects to launch multi-trading in Q1 next year.
The social trading platform is known for its “social” model that allows users to copy the trading strategies of other “established” traders. eToro will integrate this feature in the upcoming cryptocurrency trading platform.
eToro’s co-founder and CEO Yoni Assia explained a bit about the copy feature that allows traders to watch and learn from others. The firm claims that established traders with an established track record may be copied and receive compensation for their “services.”
“When I founded eToro, I envisioned a community where people could trade, invest and share their knowledge in a simple and transparent way,” said Assia.
The trading platform has already launched a multi-sig wallet in the U.S. that supports six digital assets so far -Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), XRP, and Stellar (XLM) – and will add support for more digital assets in the future.
The firm also announced plans to launch a cryptocurrency exchange eToroX in the later part of the year. eToroX will serve international customers.
The social trading platform has raised more than $220 million since 2007.
Block.one spinoff StrongBlock raised $4 million in a financing round led by Pangea Blockchain Fund
StrongBlock, a new startup founded by four former Block.one technology executives announced on March 6 that it has secured $4 million in a seed funding round led by Pangea Blockchain Fund. Other limited partners include Copernicus Asset Management SA.
The Magnetic Capital incubated startup says that the new funds will be used to develop a blockchain standard designed for enterprises, financial institutions, and governments.
StrongBlock boost of four tech executives – David Moss (Oracle, Edmunds.com), Thomas Cox (Oracle, IBM), Corey Lederer (Nike, Accenture), and Brian Abramson (Content.ad) – who have an impressive track record of delivering key technology solutions to multinational corporations.
Block.one is the parent company of EOS.IO, a decentralized blockchain platform that raised more than $4 billion in a one-year-long initial coin offering (ICO).
StrongBlock’s solution reduces the gap between the current state of blockchain networks and the technological needs of enterprises. The startup’s blockchain allows enterprises to integrate blockchain solutions to legacy systems without wasting time and money.
“If there was a way to push a button and get an Enterprise-ready blockchain, you’d move further, faster. StrongBlock does that. We make blockchain easy,” said StrongBlock co-founder and CEO David Moss. He is a former SVP at Block.one.
Report: Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase paid $13.5 million for Neutrino
U.S. leading cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase acquired Italian software services provider Neutrino for $13.5 million, reported Bitcoin Magazine. The publication claims that this is according to a copy of a legal document they have seen.
The figures for the deal were not publicized when Coinbase announced the acquisition of Neutrino.
The document also reveals that the exchange paid the top three executives of Neutrino -former chiefs of Hacking Team – nearly $3 million each because they were the major shareholders.
The acquisition was immediately followed with controversy when it later emerged that Neutrino had ties with Hacking Team – an Italian software provider embroiled in scandals involving human rights and privacy abuses all over the world.
Coinbase moved to remedy the situation by announcing that it was parting ways with all Neutrino employees who share history with the Hacking Team.
Venture capitalist Tim Draper: Bitcoin will be used to pay for Starbucks coffee
Long-time venture capitalist and Bitcoin investor Tim Draper has a history of saying all the right things about Bitcoin. However, he took things a notch higher when he arrived at podcast wearing a Bitcoin tie.
Draper said that Bitcoin is one of the best things to happen to humanity and expects the digital asset to have a bigger impact on society.
“This is one of the greatest technological advances that humanity has ever seen. And it can make a bigger change in society than any of us ever imagined,” said Draper.
He further predicted that people will use Bitcoin for everyday routine transactions such as buying coffee.
“I think when you go to Starbucks to buy a cup of coffee, and you try to pay with dollars, they will laugh at you because you are not using bitcoin or another cryptocurrency,” he added.
He said that as more people use Bitcoin, its value will rise as well.
Bitcoin is a digital gold option, says former critic
Bitcoin has its own critics, but some of them have been converted now. A renowned economic historian and author who previously bashed Bitcoin, calling it a complete delusion, now thinks that the digital asset has a bright future.
Neil Ferguson has backtracked on his initial sentiments on Bitcoin and thinks that the asset will be more appealing to investors in the future.
Speaking at the Australian Financial Review Business Summit in Sydney, he said Bitcoin has a bright future and admitted that he was wrong in the past.
“I was very wrong, wrong to think there was no use for a form of currency based on blockchain technology […] I don’t think this is a complete delusion,” said Ferguson.
He also highlighted that despite the current price plunge, its price remains high above its previous lows. He also stated that Bitcoin “is a bit like an option on digital gold.”
Fergusson is not the only Bitcoin convert. Jamie Dimon, the CEO of banking behemoth JP Morgan Chase went all out against Bitcoin and claimed that he would fire any employee who trades Bitcoin.
“You can’t have a business where people are going to invent a currency out of thin air. It won’t end well… someone is going to get killed and then the government is going to come down on it,” said Fergusson at the time.
JP Morgan has now launched something similar to a stablecoin, although its uses will be limited to the bank’s corporate clients.
Canada’s tax agency probes crypto holders
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has sent a highly-detailed questionnaire to citizens it suspects of owning cryptocurrency.
Citizens suspected of failing to disclose their crypto holdings in entirety are being asked if they use a cryptocurrency mixing service. They cryptocurrency holders are also expected to submit a full tracing history of transactions that have passed through a Bitcoin tumbler.
According to a Forbes report, this is an audit being done by the tax agency in order to investigate the behavior of cryptocurrency holders.
Tax investigations are not something new, but the nature of CRA’s questions sets off alarm bells.
One question that has become a major talking point reads as follows:
“Do you use any cryptocurrency mixing services and tumblers? If so, which services do you use? Can you please provide us with the tracing history, along with all the cryptocurrency addresses you ‘mixed’? Why do you use these services?”
Federal agencies such as the CRA have the legal right to audit individuals to mine the truth and discover if they have disclosed their full crypto holdings. This is because crypto assets are treated no differently from other forms of wealth. However, CRA’s questions are more extensive than those from other major tax agencies such as America’s Internal Revenue Services (IRA).
Ernst & Young, one of the largest accounting firms in the world recently launched a tool that makes it easier for crypto holders to deal with tax issues. The tool is rolling out to the U.S audience and hopefully, it makes its way to Canada.
KPMG survey: 41 percent of tech companies poised to implement blockchain technology by 2021
The adoption and popularity of blockchain technology partly depend on how tech companies react to the revolutionary technology that is disrupting several industries.
A recent survey done by KPMG, one of the leading auditing and tax firms revealed nearly half of tech companies will likely implement blockchain technology before 2021. The participants of the firm’s 2019 “Technology Industry Innovation Survey” included 740 tech companies from 12 different countries.
The companies were asked about their likelihood of implementing blockchain technology within the next 36 months.
More than 41 percent of the surveyed tech companies said that they will likely implement blockchain technology while 31 percent remained neutral. 28 percent said they were not going to implement blockchain technology yet.
48 percent of the surveyed firms believe that blockchain technology can change the way they run their businesses. 24 percent of the companies said that “unproven business cases” is the major reason why they won’t be adopting blockchain technology in the future.
22 percent of the respondents believe that trading stands a higher chance of being disrupted by blockchain initiatives.
The key points from the report suggest that while not many companies are ready to implement distributed ledger technology (DLT) into their systems, a number of them see the power that the technology has.
A large number of high-profile companies in the world have already implemented blockchain technology. The firms are in industries ranging from finance, banking, manufacturing, mining, automobile, shipping, etc.
Former Bitmain employees planning to launch a crypto-finance startup
Ex-employees of Bitcoin mining giant and chipmaker Bitmain are planning to launch a new startup that focuses on crypto financing related services, reported CoinDesk on March 7.
According to two sources with familiarity with the matter, the team behind the new startup includes employees from the firm’s Copernicus project who were affected by staff lay-offs.
The new firm will provide a range of financial services including Over-the-counter (OTC) trading and crypto lending.
One of the sources said that there were two camps inside Bitmain – one side was in favor of co-founder Jihan Wu and focused on blockchain and Bitcoin Cash development while the other was aligned with co-founder Micree Zhan and focused on crypto mining chips.
The team forming the new startup is aligned with Wu’s old crew. The sources did not reveal the number of employees involved in the new startup.
A Bitmain spokesperson contacted by CoinDesk only said “no comment” about the upcoming startup but claimed that Wu won’t be leaving the mining giant.