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India’s central bank has reportedly denied setting up a unit to research cryptocurrency, blockchain and artificial intelligence as the media reported last month. This unit was supposed to research, draft rules, and supervise new emerging technologies.
RBI Denies Setting Up Crypto Research Unit
There have been reports circulating in the media over the past month that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had set up a research unit for cryptocurrency, blockchain, and artificial intelligence. However, the central bank has now reportedly denied setting up a research unit for this purpose.
On Sept. 26, Coin Crunch India published an article stating that the central bank “denies setting up research unit on cryptocurrency, blockchain or AI.” The information comes from RBI’s response to a Right to Information (RTI) request filed by the author of the article, Naimish Sanghvi. An RTI allows any citizen of India to request information from a public authority. To the central bank, Sanghvi requested:
An Economic Times report…claims that RBI has setup a new unit to research AI and blockchain technology. Please let us know if this is true and who is heading this unit.
He explained, “I personally filed an RTI application asking the RBI to provide more information on the new unit.” The URL to the Economic Times article was also provided in the RTI. Sanghvi noted, “About a month later, on September 26, RBI disposed of the RTI with the below reply.”
There is no new unit created formally in RBI for the purpose mentioned in RTI query. Therefore there is no information to furnish in the matter.
The Unit Supposedly Created by RBI
Reports of the central bank’s new unit started spreading on Aug. 27 when the Economic Times published an article claiming that “The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has formed a new unit within the central bank to beef up its own intellectual capital in the face of emerging technologies like cryptocurrency, blockchain and artificial intelligence.”
The news outlet described at the time that “The unit is just about a month old as of now and though a chief general manager is identified to lead it, a formal announcement internally has not been made yet,” elaborating:
This new unit will research and possibly draft rules and supervise new emerging technologies in the future, two people familiar with the central bank’s plans said.
While the existence of the aforementioned unit is in question, the RBI has emphasized the need to monitor crypto development. In its annual report published at the end of last month, the central bank confirmed that it is “keeping a close watch on cryptocurrency.” The RBI issued a circular on April 6 banning banks from providing services to crypto businesses, prompting a number of industry participants to file petitions against the ban. The Supreme Court of India was supposed to hear them on Sept. 11 but the case has repeatedly been postponed.
What do you think of the RBI denying setting up a crypto research unit? Let us know in the comments section below.
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The authority of the Filipino government-owned economic zone is drafting regulations for cryptocurrencies and planning to limit the number of licenses it issues to 25. Other rules include the requirement for each crypto exchange to invest at least US$ 1 million within 2 years. The authority has reportedly received about 60 applications from crypto companies so far.
Drafting Crypto Regulations
Philippines’ Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) is “crafting rules to safeguard cryptocurrency investors,” according to the Philippine News Agency, the government’s newswire service.
CEZA is the government-owned and controlled corporation tasked to manage the development of the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport. “CEZA is eyeing to become a hub for financial technology (fintech) investments,” the news service wrote.
According to CEO and Administrator Raul Lambino, CEZA “is in the process of crafting regulations that will protect those investing in cryptocurrency.” He said in a statement this week that the authority “will remain stringent in checking the probity and integrity of companies eyeing to launch their initial coin offering (ICO) in the country. These companies shall be registered with CEZA.”
25 Licenses Only
Originally, CEZA announced that it will allow 10 crypto firms to take advantage of its tax advantages while generating employment.
“We are about to license 10 platforms for cryptocurrency exchange. They are Japanese, Hong Kong, Malaysians, Koreans,” Lambino told Reuters. “They can go into cryptocurrency mining, initial coin offerings, or they can go into exchange.” He elaborated, “the exchange of fiat money into virtual currency, and vice versa, should be done offshore to avoid infringing Philippine regulations,” the news outlet conveyed.
However, during the Global Blockchain Summit last week, Lambino revised that number, stating that CEZA will limit its crypto license issuance to 25. He detailed:
Each crypto exchange will be required to invest at least USD1 million or around PHP53 million within two years and it must have a back office in the Philippines. Firms must also be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“Although CEZA will only issue 25 licenses, each exchange will have 20 to 30 sub-licenses for traders and brokers,” Lambino clarified. According to reports, CEZA has already received more than 60 applications.
Lambino emphasized that the regulations will not allow Ponzi schemes. He explained that, for any companies with an ICO, “we will have to find [out] if their ICO is asset-backed,” citing “there are many scammers.” He noted that some ICOs “may be able to convince 50 unsuspecting investors and promise them the sun and the moon,” adding:
There are many operating scammers who set up an exchange with very little capital and they are victimizing investors…We do not want the Philippines to be a haven for scammers even if these scams are happening abroad. That’s why through our probity and integrity check we can determine if their transactions are just designed to entice unsuspecting people to invest in bitcoin or whatever crypto coin that is a fraud.
What do you think of CEZA drafting crypto regulations and licensing 25 exchanges? Let us know in the comments section below.
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A Time investigation into the development of Venezuela’s state-backed cryptocurrency, petro, revealed strong anecdotal and circumstantial evidence connecting Russia to its launch. At least two Russians with ties to Vladimir Putin were present at petro’s unveiling, complete with the Venezuelan president’s thanks. Analysts are claiming the South American country is Mr. Putin’s crypto guinea pig as the two nations try to find innovative ways around US sanctions.
Report Claims Putin and Maduro Teamed to Launch Petro
Time online is referring to Tuesday’s official sale of petro as “a half-hidden joint venture between Venezuelan and Russian officials and businessmen, whose aim was to erode the power of U.S. sanctions,” finding “Moscow’s fingerprints all over the creation of the petro.”
Such revelations come at an interesting time for all three countries. In the US, the present administration has been accused of being too close to re-elected Russian President Putin. Mr. Putin is under international pressure for alleged acts of assassination on foreign shores along with meddling in elections abroad. Venezuela has long been a client state of Russia, and has equally been the object of scorn for several US administrations. The three were tied together, somewhat unknowingly (on the US side at least) by President Trump’s recent Executive Order forbidding formal participation in the petro.
And truth be told it is Russia who would rather tread lightly at this point. Indeed, as Mr. Putin’s economic advisor, Igor Shuvalov, explained, “For Russia, it’s too dangerous. If we say that the only reason we do it is to avoid U.S. sanctions, then the United States is definitely going to be displeased about it. Venezuela has nothing to lose. For them it’s the only chance.” The Venezuelan economy is the daily subject of press accounts, documenting economic horrors.
So it might have seemed somewhat brazen to have no fewer than two Russian nationals connected front and center at petro’s media scrum launch last month. Denis Druzhkov and Fyodor Bogorodsky were thanked publicly by Mr. Maduro, and Mr. Bogorodsky stands at the one hour and eight minute mark to give a congratulatory speech in Russian (see video inset).
Covering Tracks on a Gamble
The two men were initially identified as representatives of a shadowy company, Aerotrading, which claims blockchain specialty. Within days of the presser, presumably to establish the company’s legitimacy, a sudden website and Twitter account were set up. Of the two men, Mr. Bogorodsky was the only to comment publicly.
Mr. Druzhkov is well connected to a Russian billionaire, while Mr. Bogorodsky is a former banking executive living in South America. The report describes him as having “close business ties with Russia and other former Soviet states.” It appears he’s been involved with petro since its inception late last year. Mr. Bogorodsky stresses, “Russia has been moving in this direction for a while now, trying to draft laws to regulate cryptocurrencies.” Venezuela’s pace has evidently been much quicker. Dismissing potential US concerns, he laughs, “Any citizen of the world can do what he wants. We offer freedom of choice. So I think there will be lots of investors, big and small, from all over the world.”
According to an anonymous “executive at a Russian state bank who deals with cryptocurrencies, senior advisers to the Kremlin have overseen the effort in Venezuela, and President Vladimir Putin signed off on it last year. ‘People close to Putin, they told him this is how to avoid the sanctions,’ says the executive. ‘This is how the whole thing started,’” the report explained. Russia is insisting it had nothing to do with the petro’s creation.
State apparatchiks, on the other hand, have made plenty of statements about US financial sanctions. The head of Russia’s second largest bank, VTB, Andrei Kostin spoke openly recently about how “The reign of the dollar must end. This whip that the Americans use in the form of the dollar would then, to a great extent, not have such a serious impact on the global financial system.”
US regulators are quoted as not being too worried about petro nor the possibility of a crypto-ruble. It is hard to say if state-backed cryptocurrencies could ultimately work. Such ideas have always suffered from violating key tenants of crypto: censorship resistance and decentralization. By definition, state-backed currencies violate both.
Do you think state-backed crypto can work? Let us know in the comments!
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