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Bitfinex Introduces Top Secret Banking System

October 16, 2018 |

Bitfinex Introduces Top Secret Banking System

Bitfinex has restored the ability of customers to make fiat currency deposits. Details of its new deposit system remain shrouded in secrecy, however, with the exchange going to extraordinary lengths to conceal the identity of the bank(s) in question. Its “distributed” system, designed to circumvent censorship, has brought the critics out in full force.

Also read: The Daily: Tether Regains Ground, Coinbase Does Dublin

Convoluted Fiat Deposit Process

The Daily: Bitfinex Building Decentralized Exchange, Bitpanda Adding ZcashAfter being forced to suspend fiat currency deposits last week, when HSBC terminated its proxy banking relationship, Bitfinex assured customers that an alternative would soon be in place. And the exchange, the world’s second largest by trading volume, has been as good as its word, confirming its new banking relationship earlier today (Oct. 16). However, the opaque nature of the statement, and the odd language it was couched in, have raised more questions than they have answered.

“Today we are introducing a new, improved and increasingly resilient fiat depositing system for sending fiat currencies to Bitfinex,” began the blog post. “This new process will once again allow KYC-verified users from around the world to initiate deposits across USD, GBP, JPY and EUR.”

The exchange then proceeded to describe a complex process by which customers must deposit a minimum of $ 10,000 of fiat currency from now on. This involves creating a deposit request to signal interest, waiting up to 48 hours for Bitfinex to approve it, sending money to the bank account, and then waiting six to 10 days for the funds to clear. Coinbase, by way of comparison, takes an average of three to five days to clear bank transfers.

Customers Sworn to Secrecy

Bitfinex Introduces Top Secret Banking SystemBitfinex’s statement ends on a defiant note, with the exchange asserting: “We believe this system to be significantly more durable in the face of sustained attacks by our competition and their supporters. Ongoing campaigns against us will only result in our company becoming stronger and better.”

While Bitfinex undoubtedly has its share of haters who would like to see the platform toppled, most traders simply seek clarity. The inability of the exchange’s operators to publish a full audit of Tether, exacerbated by its own nebulous banking arrangements, has not helped matters. Still mindful of what happened to Mt. Gox, the crypto community would like reassurance that funds are safe.

There may be serious negative effects with this information becoming public.

The Block has revealed that Tether has obtained a new bank, after recently severing ties with Nobles. It is unclear, however, whether the same bank will also handle Bitfinex’s customer deposits.

Anyone attempting to initiate the new fiat deposit process on the exchange is greeted by a disclaimer that warns in almost apocalyptic terms: “Divulging this info could damage not just yourself and Bitfinex but the entire digital token ecosystem … you are cautioned that there may be serious negative effects with this information becoming public.”

Bitfinex Introduces Top Secret Banking System

The status of Bitfinex/Tether is becoming a new battleground in the cryptocurrency community, with lines drawn and both tribes seemingly incapable of backing down. On the one hand, there are those who are certain of impropriety of some kind and are waiting to be vindicated when the house of cards topples. On the other hand, there are the defenders of Bitfinex, who are weary of fighting what they deem to be endless FUD. Today’s statement has done nothing to resolve the impasse.

What are your thoughts on Bitfinex’s latest banking arrangements? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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The post Bitfinex Introduces Top Secret Banking System appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

30 Crypto ATMs Launching in India — Unocoin Unveils Solution to RBI Banking Ban

October 14, 2018 |

30 Crypto ATMs Launching in India — Unocoin Unveils Solution to RBI Banking Ban

A major crypto exchange in India, Unocoin, has officially announced the launch of its crypto ATMs. CEO Sathvik Vishwanath told news.Bitcoin.com that, initially, the company plans to deploy 30 machines in three Indian cities. “These ATMs help people to cash in and cash out which was not possible before” due to the crypto banking ban imposed by the country’s central bank.

Also read: RBI Argues Supreme Court Should Not Interfere With Its Crypto Decision

30 Crypto ATMs in 3 Cities

30 Crypto ATMs Launching in India — Unocoin Unveils Solution to RBI Banking BanUnocoin has officially announced the launch of its cryptocurrency automated teller machines (ATMs). Last week, the exchange confirmed the existence of the project after someone spotted one of the machines and posted a picture of it on social media.

Sathvik Vishwanath, Unocoin’s CEO, revealed to news.Bitcoin.com on Sunday:

The first ATM will be operational in Bangalore tomorrow…In the first phase we plan to deploy 30 machines…The first one is in Bangalore followed by Mumbai and New Delhi in the upcoming week.

30 Crypto ATMs Launching in India — Unocoin Unveils Solution to RBI Banking Ban
Unocoin’s ATM. Photo credit: Twitter.

The company explained that all customers of Unocoin and its crypto-to-crypto trading platform, Unodax, can deposit and withdraw rupees using the ATMs. “Users are subject to some limits on deposits and withdrawals per transaction and per day subject to cash handling restrictions in India,” the exchange clarified. The minimum amount for deposits and withdrawals is 1,000 rupees (~$ 13.57) and must be in multiples of 500 rupees.

Vishwanath emphasized, “All coins on Unocoin and Unodax can be bought using the money deposited through ATM machines. We presently have 30 coins that can be bought.”

Established in 2013, the Bangalore-based crypto exchange now has 120 full-time employees. The exchange claims that it has processed transactions worth more than 2 billion rupees for over 1.3 million customers.

Solution to RBI Crypto Banking Ban

30 Crypto ATMs Launching in India — Unocoin Unveils Solution to RBI Banking BanIndia’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), issued a circular in April banning financial institutions under its control from providing services to crypto businesses. The ban went into effect in July and all crypto exchanges in India subsequently lost their ability to provide rupee deposit and withdrawal services. Unocoin announced the suspension of its fiat support on July 13. The company has been looking for new mechanisms to allow its users to deposit and withdraw rupees ever since.

Vishwanath clarified to news.Bitcoin.com that “The ATMs deployed by us do not need any banking partnerships. These are stand-alone machines that can accept and dispense cash,” elaborating:

These ATMs help people to cash in and cash out which was not possible before due to RBI restriction on banks to not provide bank accounts. The gap is now completely filled by these ATMs except that physical access is required to deposit and withdraw money.

How to Deposit and Withdraw INR Using Unocoin ATMs

In its Sunday announcement, Unocoin detailed how users can deposit and withdraw rupees using its ATMs.

30 Crypto ATMs Launching in India — Unocoin Unveils Solution to RBI Banking BanTo deposit INR, a user needs to “enter his user ID and the OTP [one-time password] that he just received as SMS on his registered mobile number,” the company explained. After confirming account details and depositing funds into the machine, the user’s account will be updated and funds credited for use on both Unocoin and Unodax.

To withdraw INR, “users have to make a request by visiting Unocoin.com or through Unocoin mobile app where he would specify [the] desired amount for withdrawal.” A 12-digit reference number from Unocoin will then be sent to the user to enter into the ATM, along with the OTP sent to the user’s registered mobile number.

What do you think of Unocoin launching 30 crypto ATMs in three Indian cities? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter, and Unocoin.


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The post 30 Crypto ATMs Launching in India — Unocoin Unveils Solution to RBI Banking Ban appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

The Daily: Coinsquare Secures Banking Partnership, Québec Elections Bring Hope to Miners

October 2, 2018 |

The Daily: Coinsquare Secures Banking Partnership, Québec Elections Bring Hope to Miners

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinsquare has reached a partnership agreement with a major Canadian bank and we’ve covered the announcement in The Daily. Also in Canada, a large bitcoin farm may be cut off from the grid by a mayor concerned about electricity consumption, and elections in Québec are likely to change the game for mining companies. In China, a bitcoin billionaire turns back on the industry; the government crackdown may have played a role.  

Also read: Fake Volume, Tether Troubles, Bitcoin’s “Inevitable” Mass Adoption

Coinsquare in Agreement With Leading Canadian Bank

The Daily: Coinsquare Secures Banking Partnership, Québec Elections Bring Hope to MinersCanadian crypto exchange Coinsquare has managed to secure a partnership agreement with one of Canada’s leading banks. The deal will help the trading platform streamline the process of depositing and withdrawing funds for its users. According to a press release, the relationship with a Big 5 Canadian bank, which has not been identified yet, will also serve as a foundation for the firm’s global growth. The Ontario-based company has previously announced plans to expand its operations in Europe by the end of this year and launch an exchange in Japan.

Coinsquare CEO Cole Diamond described the agreement as a “tremendous boost” not only for Coinsquare but for the entire Canadian cryptocurrency industry. Quoted by Prnewswire, he said: “This announcement is one of many examples of how institutional third party partners put their faith in our approach to the cryptocurrency business. We’re thrilled to start a relationship with a major Canadian bank and we’re excited for what it means for our users.”

The announcement comes after Coinsquare recently completed a third-party consolidated financial audit which concluded that its financial statements are “free from material misinformation.” According to its Chief Financial Officer Ken Tsang, both developments are part of the efforts of the Canadian crypto company to be regarded as a trusted cryptocurrency trading platform.

Large Bitcoin Farm Under Threat in Canada

The Daily: Coinsquare Secures Banking Partnership, Québec Elections Bring Hope to MinersHut 8 Mining Corp. has spent more than $ 100 million to build its bitcoin mining farm in Medicine Hat, Canada, but its future is far from guaranteed. Local authorities are not happy with the mining facility, as it burns more electricity than the whole population of the city and several industrial plants working there.

The farm occupies 4.5 ha of land where more than 50 containers with 180 servers employed in mining cryptocurrency are located. Its energy needs are satisfied by a gas-powered electrical station and four wind turbines. The company is taking advantage of the low electricity rates in Medicine Hat where it has hired 40 people so far.

Despite the sizeable investment in the local economy and the positive effect on employment, Medicine Hat’s mayor has warned Hut 8 that the farm may be cut off from the grid if it gets overloaded. City authorities have also been pressured by environmental activists. A Greenpeace representative recently suggested that cryptocurrency mining should be banned unless it’s using renewable sources.

Québec Elections Said to Determine the Future of Mining

Bitcoin is in a way detached from traditional politics, soldiering on regardless of political developments here and there. However, it’s been claimed by mainstream media that one particular election is likely to affect it, at least on a regional scale and in one particular aspect – mining. The case concerns the recent parliamentary vote in the French-Canadian province of Québec.

The Daily: Coinsquare Secures Banking Partnership, Québec Elections Bring Hope to MinersThe general elections are the province’s first since tensions arose earlier this year over electricity allocation for bitcoin mining, Forbes wrote in an article devoted to the subject. The increased demand from crypto miners this year forced the provincial government headed by Parti Liberal du Québec to order the state-controlled electric utility, Hydro-Québec, to restrict the supply and introduce higher tariffs for miners, the outlet notes.

According to preliminary results quoted by Canadian media, Monday’s election has been won by the center-right pro-business party Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), which will have a majority in the provincial legislature and form the new government. And while neither the outgoing liberals nor the winners have so far adopted an official stance on bitcoin mining, representatives of the nascent industry claim CAQ has demonstrated some support for the miners during the moratorium on energy supplies in Québec this summer.

The coalition’s leader François Legault has previously indicated his intention to make Hydro-Québec more profitable by fulfilling its potential. The utility company is one of the largest hydropower producers in the world.

Bitcoin Tycoon Li Xiaolai to Leave the Industry

The Daily: Coinsquare Secures Banking Partnership, Québec Elections Bring Hope to MinersChinese billionaire and bitcoin investor Li Xiaolai is reportedly leaving the crypto industry amid a continuing government crackdown on the sector in the People’s Republic. Often called a bitcoin tycoon, Xiaolai is the founder of cryptocurrency venture capital firm Bitfund, which has become one of the largest and most influential crypto investment firms in China since its establishment five years ago.

“From this day on, I, Li Xiaolai, will personally not invest in any projects (whether it is blockchain or early stage). So, if you see ‘Li Xiaolai’ associated with any project (I have been associated with countless projects without my knowledge, 99% is not an exaggeration), just ignore it,” Xiaolai recently said in a post quoted by Sludgefeed. His statement was published on the Chinese microblogging platform Weibo.

The prominent crypto investor has not explicitly stated the reason for his decision but the announcement coincides with an escalating Beijing offensive against businesses in the space. Li Xiaolai notes his intentions to explore different opportunities but also admits he is still optimistic about the long-term viability of crypto technology.

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


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Coinsquare.


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PR: CrowdForce Launches ICO For Blockchain Based Agency Banking & Data Collection Platform

September 28, 2018 |

CrowdForce Launches ICO For Blockchain Based Agency Banking & Data Collection Platform

This is a paid press release, which contains forward looking statements, and should be treated as advertising or promotional material. Bitcoin.com does not endorse nor support this product/service. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the press release.

94% of Transactions are done offline and 3 billion people are underbanked and unbanked in Emerging Markets

“CrowdForce” Announces Launching of ICO For Their Blockchain Based Agency Banking & Data Collection Platform

Mahe – In 2016 Alphabet’s CEO, Eric Schmidt predicted that “the next $ 100 billion company will be driven by crowd-based solutions.” CrowdForce is leveraging blockchain, mobile technology and a crowdsourced agent network to bring the next billion consumers to the digital economy.

The journey to “CrowdForce” began three years ago when we at MobileForms identified two of the major problems facing Emerging markets was the inability to gather reliable and verifiable data (micro tasks) and a means of delivering financial and digital services to remote communities (microservices).

Developed countries across the world have agencies and large infrastructures which gather and verify data, and these took years as well as billions of dollars to establish. Emerging markets do not have the luxury of years and billions of dollars required to catch up with the infrastructures that have been put in place in developed countries. The “CrowdForce” Team realised that what they need are tiny collections of humans and devices spread out across the countries building trust and working together in a collaborative manner to bring everyone to the digital economy.

This realization birthed the movement that is “CrowdForce”. The “CrowdForce” platform uses mobile technology and the largest agent network to help businesses, banks, Digital wallets and exchange companies scale to the next billion underserved population in emerging market.

The “CrowdForce” project provides a viable solution for market research, economic development, financial inclusion and blockchain penetration in Emerging markets by using online and offline mobile technology and a network of merchants and agents that are properly empowered and incentivized to render micro tasks and services in their area.

The “CrowdForce” field agent network works with the “CrowdForce” platform which allows businesses, banks, digital wallets, crypto exchanges and developers to set up micro tasks and services. These will instantly be made available to all agents on the network via the application on the merchants’ phones or POS systems.

The “CrowdForce” Pre-sale begins on September 15, 2018, while the Tokensale commences on November 12, 2018 and will run for 4 weeks. The goal is to secure funding to finalize the development of the “CrowdForce” platform, as well as drive adoption of the platform across all Emerging markets.

For complete information, please visit: https://token.crowdforce.io/

Press Contact Email Address
press@crowdforce.io

Supporting Link
https://token.crowdforce.io/

This is a paid press release. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the promoted company or any of its affiliates or services. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in the press release.

The post PR: CrowdForce Launches ICO For Blockchain Based Agency Banking & Data Collection Platform appeared first on Bitcoin News.

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Colombia Crypto Exchange Asks New President for Banking Help

September 28, 2018 |

Colombia Crypto Exchange Asks New President for Banking Help

Alejandro Beltrán of Colombia’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Buda.com, effectively shuttered by banks in the country refusing to do business with it, has written an open letter to the nation’s new president in the hope of winning a reversal. Iván Duque Márquez was elected last month, and has been quoted as embracing new financial technology. 

Also read: 3D Gun File Company Reorganizes After Cody Wilson Resigns

Colombia Crypto Exchange Buda Writes an Open Plea to New President

“Being a Fintech company,” Mr. Beltrán began, “we received with great enthusiasm [your] promise to promote the development of new technologies in Colombia [….] For this reason, it hurts us that the pressure of the previous government on the banks led them to close our bank accounts, forcing us to stop our operation and taking away from our almost 40,000 clients the possibility of buying cryptocurrencies in a safe and transparent manner.”

Alejandro Beltrán, head of Buda.com, the leading cryptocurrency exchange in Colombia, knows business. Prior to running the largest crypto venture in his country, Mr. Beltrán worked as an administrator in finance for a decade. He is also host of the Spanish language podcast, Calle Bitcoin.

Colombia Crypto Exchange Asks New President for Banking Help
Alejandro Beltrán

Reports term the occurrences of bank bans spontaneous, a variation on organic, but, whatever the actual case, by summer of this year Buda.com was effectively shut down. Banks in Colombia had decided, seemingly all at once, to cease doing business with any company even mildly related to cryptocurrencies.

“The CEO of Buda,” these pages documented in early June, “Alejandro Beltran, confirmed that Bancolombia, Davivienda, and BBVA have all terminated financial services provided to the exchange via an email sent to customers. Buda also sought to assure customers that their funds are safely protected despite the disruptions to the exchange’s operations.” It’s a tactic used all over the world, and seeing as how most banks are usually in bed with their regional governments, it doesn’t take long to determine which institution is really pulling strings when it comes to such things.

The President Has Positive Things to Say About Crypto

After various appeals, Mr. Beltrán has taken to an open letter, desperate to get some relief at the highest levels of the Colombian government. He chose to name newly elected President Iván Duque. It’s a choice probably due to Mr. Duque’s statements the beginning of the present month on cryptocurrency and financial technology.

As News.Bitcoin.com also reported, “the country’s new president, Ivan Duque, revealed his administration’s commitment to cutting down rent taxes for crypto startups for a period of up to five years. The main motivation behind the proposal is to stimulate the creation of new jobs in the industry.”

Colombia Crypto Exchange Asks New President for Banking Help
Iván Duque Márquez

And while that seems positive for enthusiasts, “the president also declared his support for exploring the implementation of blockchain technologies in order to improve key sectors such as security, health and also curb corruption by tracking the use of public funds. ‘If we want to overcome corruption, technology can be instrumental. The government must start by setting an example. We take it seriously, we want a modern Colombia,’” explains President Duque in a quoted statement. 

Mr. Beltrán wrote, “This letter, Mr. President, is to ask you very kindly and vehemently for your intervention in this great problem in order to reopen our bank accounts. We do not ask for special treatment or exceptions. We only ask to have access to a basic service to undertake, as any entrepreneur who starts with an idea that can have a positive impact on society. For our part, we are committed to continue contributing to the education of new technologies, promoting spaces that empower Colombians to be agents of change and helping in Colombia to develop a healthy and safe cryptocurrency industry.” As of publication, the President has not responded.

Do you think the President of Colombia will listen to Buda? Let us know in the comments below. 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


At Bitcoin.com there’s a bunch of free helpful services. For instance, have you seen our Tools page? You can even look up the exchange rate for a transaction in the past. Or calculate the value of your current holdings. Or create a paper wallet. And much more.

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Africa and its Antiquated Banking: Cryptocurrencies The Solution?

September 5, 2018 |

Africa and its Antiquated Banking: Cryptocurrencies The Solution?

Africa has steadily accelerated the switch to modern technologies. But can a continent facing a crisis with antiquated banking technologies, low rate of financial inclusion, poor confidence in the banking system, and high remittance costs become the new battleground for blockchain or cryptocurrency-centred settlements?

Also read: Square’s Big Week: Crypto Patent, Shares Leap, and Lightning Plug

From Algeria to South Africa, Uganda to Nigeria, Africa Is A Potpourri Of Ideas

The continent’s booming technological advancement is reflected in the rapid growth of mobile phone use, both as a means of payment and as a bank account. With more than 100 million active users of mobile money, transacting about $ 2.1 billion each year, according to McKinsey & Company, Africa is a global leader in mobile-based financial settlements.

South Africa
The country is Africa’s second biggest economy after Nigeria, with a Gross Domestic Product of $ 350 billion, according to the International Monetary Fund. In South Africa, cryptocurrencies are growing in popularity. Google Trends indicates that the highest number of bitcoin searches in the world occur in the Southern African country. About 50 percent of South Africans plan to put some into cryptocurrencies, says a 2018 survey by Mybroadband. The economy, Africa’s most sophisticated, is home to a number of digital currency exchanges – including Luno, which operates in 40 countries worldwide – allowing people to buy and sell digital coins like bitcoin in the local Rand currency. Domestic financial companies are now starting to step into the space. Asset management firm Sygnia has announced plans to open an exchange called Sygnia Coin during the last three months of this year. A litany of start-ups riding on the distributed ledger technology are emerging, including the Johannesburg-based Tari Labs, a blockchain incubator, headed by Monero’s Riccardo Spagni.

The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has pilot tested an inter-bank settlement system code named Project Kohka, which runs on the Ethereum blockchain. Aiming to speed up payments, the system is understood to have performed “exceedingly well” during simulated trials for real-time gross settlements between banking institutions. The SARB does not recognize cryptocurrencies as legal tender, urging caution in their trade. The country’s revenue authority, however, has announced that profits made from cryptocurrency transactions will be taxed in accordance with the South African income tax law.

Africa and its Antiquated Banking: Cryptocurrencies The Solution?

South Africa demonstrates incredible potential to becoming a leader in blockchain development in Africa, leveraging on its well-developed financial and technological infrastructure, friendly regulatory environment and the rising public interest in virtual money.

Nigeria
In 2014 Nigeria eclipsed South Africa as the continent’s biggest economy, with a GDP of $ 400 billion. But huge inequalities, corruption and illicit financial flows still persists in Africa’s most populous nation. The blockchain/cryptocurrency sphere in Nigeria is trading under caution from central bank governor Godwin Emifiele who has likened cryptocurrencies “to a gamble.” The Nigerian Parliament has, however, instituted an investigation into the merits and demerits of adopting bitcoin as a means of payment. In spite of all that, Nigerians continue to flood the cryptocurrency space in search of cheaper and faster ways to send money abroad – or receive it – and to hedge against inflation/exchange-related losses of the Naira, the local unit. According to Citigroup, Nigerians account for the world’s third largest holdings of bitcoin, as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product, after Russia and New Zealand. Ignoring warnings from financial regulators, a flurry of start-ups in the country have taken to initial coin offerings, a way used by emerging companies to raise money by issuing new digital coins to the public. One of those companies is Sure Remit, a money transfer business, which raised all the $ 7 million on offer within two days of the ICO going public. There appears to be a silent admission by regulatory authorities that cryptocurrencies – and the blockchain technology that underpins them – are in the Nigerian economy for the long haul. Hence, efforts seeking to understand virtual currencies to help with their adoption and regulation.

Pyramid Scheme

Egypt, Morocco and Algeria
The uniformity between the three North African countries – some of the continent’s leading economies – to outlaw cryptocurrencies in their respective economies is galvanized by their common religious beliefs. Under Islamic law “commercial and trade transactions (should) be governed by contracts and clear rules.” Bitcoin does not, say religious leaders. Instead, it promotes tax evasion and terrorism among other financial ills, they say. In Egypt, the Financial Regulatory Authority denied it had given the green light for a digital currency exchange called Bitcoin Egypt to set up shop in the country. The Central Bank of Egypt has said the country’s banking system deals “with official currencies only, and never deal in any virtual currencies.” Much of the trade in Egypt happens underground – on social media platforms like Facebook.

The situation in Egypt, Africa’s third largest economy, broadly reflects what is happening in Morocco and Algeria. The Moroccan foreign exchange authority, The Office des Changes has called cryptocurrencies “a hidden payment system not backed by any financial organisation”. Reiterating that all foreign currency related transactions must pass through the central bank, the Exchange Authority warned that anyone using virtual currencies will face significant penalties In Algeria, it is illegal to invest in or hold any digital coins. A Finance Bill that is waiting to become law will punish crypto investors “in accordance with the regulations in force.” The Bill shows utmost disdain for bitcoin, calling it “the so-called virtual currency” that is backed by nothing physical, like banknotes. The general outlook in these three national jurisdictions is that the blockchain/cryptocurrencies will struggle to gain mainstream acceptance and recognition.

Africa and its Antiquated Banking: Cryptocurrencies The Solution?Kenya
Several weeks have passed since the Kenyan parliament in July tasked the country’s Financial Ministry to come up with a determination whether or not to regulate bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. There has not been any official communication from the Kenyan government in relation to its latest position on the future of bitcoin. However, in April, the Central Bank of Kenya warned banks against dealing with companies involved in the trade of virtual currencies – or that the banks themselves invest in digital coins at all. The central bank reduced bitcoin to a pyramid scheme.

Under the veil of such warnings, Kenyan authorities look like they are drawn to the blockchain technology more than they are to cryptocurrencies. In March, President Uhuru Kenyatta set up an 11-member team to investigate the distributed ledger technology, particularly it’s potential use in eliminating inaccuracies within the land registry. Mr. Kenyatta’s government has in the past prevented bitcoin exchanges to make payments through Mpesa, a mobile money service offered by cellular network provider Safaricom, which is 35 percent owned by the government.

In the streets of Nairobi, bitcoin continues to thrive despite the shadow of uncertainty hanging over its future. Bancor Network, a fintech company based in the Kenyan capital, in June announced plans to launch a network of blockchain-based communities to help East Africans manage their digital tokens, using part of the $ 150 million it raised in a token sale last year.

Sole Mandate

Uganda, Botswana
Despite warnings by the The Bank of Uganda against the use of unregulated currencies in the form of bitcoin and other digital coins, global Chinese exchange Binance has expanded into the Central African country, one of the poorest on the continent. Coinpesa, the emerging Ugandan digital currency exchange, on August 31 launched its maiden token sale of 99 million tokens. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has spoken positively for the blockchain technology – but not cryptocurrencies. He told the Africa Blockchain conference organised by the Blockchain Association of Uganda, in Kampala in May of the need “to look for a new technology of enabling things to move faster and new systems that go with it.”

His central bank governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile had apparently spoken to the country in an earlier address to the same conference. Mutebile accused blockchain technology of lacking the necessary support to sustain a currency. But Ugandans, mostly professionals, have taken a particular liking to virtual money. This is a place where bitcoin looks likely to flourish unhindered, with support at Cabinet level.

In Botswana, the government has paid little attention to digital currencies because of a very low level of bitcoin adoption. The Central Bank of Botswana has not commented on cryptocurrencies or the blockchain. At the time of writing, there was no known cryptocurrency exchange operating in Botswana. Some trades take place on Whats App, Facebook and on the globalized exchange Localbitcoins.com. Others make use of South African-based exchanges like Altcoin Trader, which accepts deposits directly from Botswana. Satoshicentre, a blockchain start-up in Gaborone has now started to carry out some awareness campaigns around bitcoin mining and trade in cryptocurrencies. Two other start-ups, Plaas, and Inside Studio Africa, are also experimenting with the blockchain.

Africa and its Antiquated Banking: Cryptocurrencies The Solution?

Namibia, Zimbabwe
Namibia officially banned the use of cryptocurrencies for commercial purposes in 2017. The Bank of Namibia did not specify penalties for violating the prohibition, but warned that “a local shop is not allowed to price or accept virtual currencies in exchange for goods and services.” It said only the Namibian dollar and the South Africa Rand remained legal tender in the country, but remained open to possibilities offered by the blockchain technology. Even though crypto related activities remain very limited in Namibia, the Bank’s main concern was centered around exchange control violations and issues around the creation of money, which it said was its sole mandate.

Similar concerns appear to have spilled over into neighboring Zimbabwe. In May, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe directed banks to sever ties with cryptocurrency exchanges, Golix and Styx24, in a de facto ban on digital coins that was largely unexpected. In the past, the central bank had limited its warnings to cautious statements around the risk involved the trading of virtual currencies. Golix, which earlier this year released a bitcoin ATM that has since run dry, is challenging the ban in the Zimbabwean High Court. There were more than 50,000 people buying and selling cryptocurrencies on the Golix platform alone when the ban took effect around May 11. The RBZ-Golix drama has unfolded around an economy that largely doesn’t care about digital currencies, much less understand them. 

Is crypto the answer to Africa’s woes? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


At Bitcoin.com there’s a bunch of free helpful services. For instance, have you seen our Tools page? You can even lookup the exchange rate for a transaction in the past. Or calculate the value of your current holdings. Or create a paper wallet. And much more.

The post Africa and its Antiquated Banking: Cryptocurrencies The Solution? appeared first on Bitcoin News.

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Jack Ma’s Giant Financial Startup Is Shaking the Chinese Banking System

July 30, 2018 |

Ant Financial, which grew out of Alibaba, controls the world’s largest money-market fund, handled more payments last year than Mastercard and is more valuable than Goldman Sachs. Its power and disruptive capacity is drawing a backlash from Chinese banks—and also the government.
WSJ.com: What’s News Asia

PR: trade.Io Appoints Banking Veteran David Hannigan to Run OTC Desk

July 19, 2018 |

trade.Io Appoints Banking Veteran David Hannigan to Run OTC Desk

This is a paid press release, which contains forward looking statements, and should be treated as advertising or promotional material. Bitcoin.com does not endorse nor support this product/service. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the press release.

Wednesday Lugano, Switzerland – trade.io, a leading cryptocurrency exchange and innovator of the industry’s leading liquidity pool, today announced that David Hannigan has joined the company as its Chief Dealer. David brings almost 30 years of trading and risk management experience, most notably his position as Senior VP at National Australia Bank, to his new role.

David will lead trade.io’s risk management department, and will be responsible for building out its OTC Desk, allowing for both retail and institutional fiat-to-crypto exchange functionality. Up to 50% of all OTC Desk revenues will be allocated to the forthcoming liquidity pool, which can only be accessed by using trade.io’s utility token, TIO.

trade.io’s CEO Jim Preissler said, “We’re very lucky to have someone with David’s experience lead the risk management team and spearhead our OTC Desk. David has an impeccable track record in trading and risk management, which is invaluable when dealing with the size of deals in the crypto space. It’s not uncommon to have a $ 10m deal come through the desk multiple times per day.”

David Hannigan also commented, “I see a lot of similarities in how trade.io runs its business to many of the large banks I’ve worked for in the past. With my prior experience in the banking sector, I am cognizant on how profitable an OTC Desk can be. I am thrilled to hit the ground running to provide this service to the trade.io community.”

David will also be providing daily commentary on the crypto markets which can be accessed by registered trade.io users.

About trade.io
trade.io is a next-generation financial institution based on blockchain technology, providing the ultimate in security and transparency. By leveraging decades of experience in the investment banking, trading & FinTech sectors, and combining them with the power and transparency of the distributed ledger, trade.io has created a truly unique exchange that will revolutionize asset trading and investment banking.

Press Contact Email Address
marilia.kountouridou@trade.io

Supporting Link
https://exchange.trade.io/

This is a paid press release. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the promoted company or any of its affiliates or services. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in the press release.

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Switzerland Considers Granting Crypto Businesses Access to Banking Services

July 6, 2018 |

Switzerland Considers Granting Crypto Businesses Access to Banking Services

Crypto companies based in Switzerland may receive access to regular banking services as early as this year. Political will and economic wisdom seem to be in place as some government officials and bankers are already working to resolve a serious issue. Swiss banks have been refusing accounts to firms from the growing crypto industry.

Also read: Swiss Crypto Company Acquires License to Distribute Funds to Investors

Banks Expected to Offer Services by the End of the Year

Switzerland Considers Granting Crypto Businesses Access to Banking ServicesIn terms of crypto development, Switzerland is now standing at a crossroad. With very few exceptions, most of its banks have been refusing banking services to a growing number of startups residing in the country’s Crypto Valley and this is beginning to suffocate growth in the fintech sector.

Luckily, far-sighted policy makers and seasoned financiers have already pulled their sleeves up and are working to break the deadlock. One of them is Heinz Tännler, the finance director of the canton of Zug, home of the Swiss Crypto Valley. Speaking to the Financial Times, Tännler said he expected Swiss politicians and regulators to remove the obstacles in the coming months, which would allow crypto companies based in the country to operate with banks just like any other business. He added:

We hope to clarify relationships by the end of the year at the latest. Time is pressing – other jurisdictions such as Malta and Singapore are very active and making a lot of effort to attract these companies. The lack of access to bank services is a significant competitive disadvantage.

According to Mr. Tännler, the country’s central bank, financial supervisor and federal government “are willing to help.” He also stressed that “We have to push certain national institutions to resolve this problem quickly and effectively, but that now seems to be going well.”

Traditional financial institutions are increasingly under pressure to offer crypto startups regular services like bank accounts. According to Swissinfo, the bottleneck has become acute since the ICO craze brought $ 1.46 billion to Switzerland last year. A recent report by the Crypto Valley Association revealed that token sales through May this year have attracted nearly double the funds raised in 2017.

Mounting Pressure to Break the Deadlock

Switzerland Considers Granting Crypto Businesses Access to Banking ServicesRepresentatives of the industry have warned that if crypto businesses are not provided with access to banking services they may start looking for better conditions elsewhere.

“Starving startups of bank accounts is akin to killing the goose that laid the golden egg,” said blockchain and cryptocurrency expert Guido Schmitz-Krummacher, former director of the Tezos foundation and advisor to projects like Cardano. He believes that the failure to provide a reliable environment for startups will harm the reputation of the Crypto Valley in Zug.

“I am already seeing projects choose Singapore, Malta and Gibraltar because they can’t get a bank account in Switzerland. They will be followed by projects already established in Switzerland unless the banks and politicians address this topic.” The lack of access to normal banking services is worrying, according to Alain Kunz, chief executive of Coinlab Capital, a startup offering blockchain asset management services. “You can do a lot with crypto but you can’t pay rents and salaries,” he told the FT.

Switzerland Considers Granting Crypto Businesses Access to Banking Services

Some Swiss politicians and bankers have already heard these worries. In January, economy minister Johann Schneider-Ammann shared a vision of Switzerland becoming a “Crypto Nation.” His colleague, finance minister Ueli Maurer went a step further by forming a working group with representatives of the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA), the financial regulator and the central bank in an attempt to find a solution. The SBA has also set up a taskforce and is planning to establish a set of standards for ICO startups in order to simplify the process of opening bank accounts.

“Both we as an association and the banks have an interest in business relations in this growth area. Banks see the potential that the blockchain technology offers for their industry and Switzerland as a financial and technology hub,” the SBA said in a written statement quoted by Swissinfo. Welcoming its actions, the Crypto Valley Association (CVA) said it anticipated “a progressive broadening of offerings by a number of Swiss banks.”

Switzerland Considers Granting Crypto Businesses Access to Banking ServicesVery few legacy institutions in Switzerland have so far declared readiness to offer services to the 200 Zug-based blockchain and crypto firms. Among them are Neuchâtel Cantonal Bank and Neue Helvetische Bank. They were joined recently by Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, which announced this month it was accepting cryptocurrency related businesses as account holders. In the meantime, some Swiss startups have opened bank accounts in neighboring Liechtenstein using the services of local banks such as Frick and Alpinum. Others have decided to enter the sector of traditional financial services through partnerships.

Do you expect Swiss banks to offer crypto companies unrestricted access to banking services? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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