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Australian Banks Fraudulently Collected Fees From Deceased Customers

February 6, 2019 |

Australia's Banking Sector inquiry Reveals Massive Cheating as Banks Collect Fees for Dead Customers

A national inquiry into the misconduct of Australia’s banking sector has revealed profit-driven malpractice that has shattered customer trust. Some of the country’s largest banks were found guilty of making families homeless and charging fees for non-existent services, sometimes to dead customers. They also caused clients to lose hundreds of millions of dollars through misleading investment advice.

Also read: Philippines Announces New Cryptocurrency Regulations

Banks Charge Fees for No Service

The Royal Commission, Australia’s highest form of public inquiry, spent a year investigating allegations of misconduct by some of the country’s biggest banks including the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), its largest lender. The local banking industry has been plagued by issues of wrongdoing for more than a decade now, Australia’s public broadcaster ABC reported on Feb. 4.

Commissioner Kenneth Hayne’s report proposed 76 recommendations, which the government has fully endorsed, leaving unscrupulous parts of the financial sector prone to being swept away by the legislature. Several institutions could be up for criminal charges for charging fees for which no service was rendered.

Australian Banks Fraudulently Collected Fees From Deceased Customers

The report reveals details about how Australia’s “Big Four” banks – CBA, Westpac, ANZ and NAB – fleeced their customers out of A$ 178 million (US$ 126 million) in financial advice they did not provide. Banks went further, even charging customers who had died. Collectively, wealth managers and the major banks will have to fork out A$ 850 million (US $ 603 million) in compensation.

In his report, Hayne said:

Misconduct will be deterred only if entities believe that misconduct will be detected, denounced and justly punished. Misconduct, especially misconduct that yields profit, is not deterred by requiring those who are found to have done wrong to do no more than pay compensation. And wrongdoing is not denounced by issuing a media release.

 Commission Recommends Stronger Action

The Royal Commission was conceived in response to years of malpractice in the sector. It was initially opposed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the banks last year, but it went through in a bill in parliament.

The Royal Commission reviewed more than 10,000 public submissions and interviewed over 130 witnesses in hearings conducted publicly. Much of the focus revolved around customers who had been exploited – and some bankrupted – by banks and industry advisers.

Whereas intermediaries between banks and customers are supposed to be independent, banks fielded their own, resulting in undeclared conflicts of interest, the Commission’s report stated. For a sector anchored on trust, it is noteworthy how far banks went to trash every aspect of the sector by creating a rigged game.

Australian Banks Fraudulently Collected Fees From Deceased Customers

The scathing report did not go so far as to ban banks and wealth managers from owning advice businesses. Some of the recommendations include over 20 unidentified cases being referred to regulators for possible criminal or civil prosecutions.

It also spoke of the need for a complete overhaul of the banking industry’s culture to prevent issues of conflict of interest while emphasizing that regulators ought to prosecute violations with a lot more frequency, or lose some of their powers.

Australia’s Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the public had suffered “immensely” from the banks’ mischief, adding that government would move swiftly to implement some of the recommended reforms. “It’s a scathing assessment of conduct driven by greed and behaviour that was in breach of existing law and fell well below community expectations,” he was quoted as saying. “There have been broken businesses, and the emotional stress and personal pain has broken lives.”

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) will retain responsibility for prudential regulation, while the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) will primarily regulate conduct and disclosure.

Banks have for years conspired to steal from people and from governments while continuing to render service to thieves by facilitating the flow of illicit money. Cryptocurrency like bitcoin is seen by many as a safe haven from corporate theft, offering a more transparent system than the opaque banking sector.

An undercover probe by dozens of journalists from 12 countries last year revealed how Europe’s top banks allegedly helped wealthy clients across the continent steal 55 billion euros ($ 63 billion) from multiple governments by making tax reclaims to which they were not entitled. The theft centered around a complex scheme of trading stocks that also involved hedge funds and large international commercial law firms.

What do you think about the conduct of banks in Australia and the global banking sector in general? Let us know in the comments section below.


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The post Australian Banks Fraudulently Collected Fees From Deceased Customers appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Spectrum is planning a 20% fee hike for local channels as pay-TV customers dwindle

February 3, 2019 |

We’re so accustomed to having our cable bills routinely go up by absurd amounts, it hardly seems like news when a cable company inflicts more pain on customers.

So perhaps Spectrum subscribers won’t be surprised to learn that the monthly fee they pay for access to local channels will rise March…


L.A. Times – Business

Airdrop Causes Exchange to Accidentally Send BTC to Customers

January 22, 2019 |

Airdrop Mishap Causes Korean Exchange to Accidentally Send BTC to Customers

A South Korean crypto exchange mistakenly sent its customers BTC and other cryptocurrencies due to an error during an airdrop. Some users immediately sold the coins, causing the prices of a number of cryptocurrencies on the exchange to sharply fall. The exchange said, however, that the majority of customers have agreed to return the assets.

Also read: Indian Supreme Court Moves Crypto Hearing, Community Calls for Positive Regulations

Airdrop Error

Airdrop Mishap Causes Korean Exchange to Accidentally Send BTC to CustomersSouth Korean cryptocurrency exchange Coinzest reportedly sent its customers BTC and other cryptocurrencies while trying to airdrop WGT tokens. The exchange posted a notice on its website that at approximately 18:30 p.m. Korean time on Jan. 18:

The WGT token airdrop process caused a computer error that incorrectly reflected the deposit details of some customers’ assets … we took measures to immediately check the server to prevent any additional damage as a result of the sales and purchases of some misappropriated assets by some customers.

The exchange’s computer program “allocated a particular cryptocurrency to the event,” Sedaily explained on Monday, noting that “Coinzest originally tried to airdrop 30,000 WGT coins, but accidentally entered data to airdrop other coins.”

Airdrop Mishap Causes Korean Exchange to Accidentally Send BTC to Customers

An official of the exchange said that about 400 members were supposed to receive WGT tokens, Hankyung publication reported, adding that other cryptocurrencies such as BTC and ETH were sent to members’ wallets. The news outlet elaborated that “about 10 members tried to sell about KRW 600 million worth [~$ 530,000] of cryptocurrencies or to withdraw money in Korean won even though they recognized the mistake of depositing money and computer errors. [Therefore] there has been a problem of rapid price decline.”

The price of BTC and a number of other cryptocurrencies on Coinzest subsequently plummeted at about 7 p.m. Korean time on Jan. 18, with BTC’s price falling to 999,000 won (~$ 883) from over 4 million won.

Airdrop Mishap Causes Korean Exchange to Accidentally Send BTC to Customers
Prices of cryptocurrencies on Coinzest at about 6 p.m. Korean time on Jan. 18. Image credit: Blockinpress/Coinpan.
Airdrop Mishap Causes Korean Exchange to Accidentally Send BTC to Customers
Image credit: Sedaily

Asking Customers to Return Assets

After detecting the problem, Coinzest immediately halted trading and performed a server checkup, according to a notice on its website. It then resumed trading the next day. “The asset and transaction information was restored to 18:33:18 on the 18th, the last time a normal transaction occurred before the computer error occurred,” the exchange clarified. Hankyung detailed:

Coinzest immediately contacted the customers and asked them to return their assets. The majority of the members promised to return [them].

Coinzest CEO Jeon Jong-hee was quoted by the publication as saying, “I am extremely sorry that I have caused an unexpected computational error to customers … I am very sorry for my customers.” He added that his exchange’s emergency response system will be strengthened to prevent the problem from recurring.

Airdrop Mishap Causes Korean Exchange to Accidentally Send BTC to Customers

An official of another cryptocurrency exchange commented that the fact that a staff’s mistake can lead to this error means “there is always a possibility of tampering with the exchange system,” Sedaily reported. He further asserted that the government will not be able to trust exchanges to manage transaction records.

In April last year, another South Korean crypto exchange, Cashierest, suffered an internal system error that allowed its users to withdraw more coins than they requested.

What do you think of Coinzest’s airdrop error? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Coinzest, Blockinpress, and Coinpan.


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The post Airdrop Causes Exchange to Accidentally Send BTC to Customers appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Netflix Reports Paid Customers Rise on Strength Overseas

January 18, 2019 |

Netflix reported a jump in paid subscribers in the fourth quarter, exceeding its own expectations for growth by drawing in more customers in international markets even as domestic growth slowed.
WSJ.com: US Business

Indian Bank Forcing Customers to Agree to Anti-Cryptocurrency Policy

January 11, 2019 |

Indian Bank Forcing Customers to Agree to Anti-Cryptocurrency Policy

An Indian bank is reportedly forcing customers to agree that they “will not deal with any transactions related to cryptocurrency including bitcoins” when signing up for an account. In addition, there are reports of banks blocking accounts of their existing customers if they are found to have made crypto-related transactions.

Also read: Indian Supreme Court Moves Crypto Hearing, Community Calls for Positive Regulations

Account Opening Agreement

Amid banking restrictions imposed by India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), a major bank in the country, is reportedly asking customers to declare that they will not deal with any cryptocurrency transactions.

Indian Bank Forcing Customers to Agree to Anti-Cryptocurrency PolicyTwitter user Indiancryptogirl, “@Desicryptohodlr,” tweeted a screenshot of Kotak Mahindra Bank’s account opening agreement on Tuesday. One of the items customers must agree to reads: “I hereby declare that I will not deal with any transactions related to cryptocurrency including bitcoins. I also understand and agree that the bank reserves all right to close my account without further intimation in case I am found to undertake such transactions.”

Indian Bank Forcing Customers to Agree to Anti-Cryptocurrency Policy

Indiancryptogirl told news.Bitcoin.com:

Kotak Mahindra Bank Limited is one of the largest Indian banks. They have started to show this notice on account creation since past 1 month. This message comes as a ‘one last check’ before account creation and the cryptocurrency tickbox cannot be skipped or unchecked. As a result, to create an account with the bank, we have to agree to the message. Else we cannot begin any online banking service with the bank.

In addition, she said that the bank has been sending emails and SMS messages over the past six months notifying customers regarding its cryptocurrency policy. This follows the circular issued by the RBI prohibiting banks from providing services to crypto businesses.

However, she described that in the past month they have gone a step further and “have started forcefully obligating users to accept their notice while opening a new account with them.”

Enforcing RBI Regulations

Kotak Mahindra Bank also displays a similar message on their ATMs. Twitter user “@Vivekmacha” tweeted an image of the notice. It says: “Virtual currencies (VCs) are not legal tender and do not have any regulatory permission or protection in India. We request you not to make transactions involving any VCs from any of your account/s. For any such transactions, the bank shall be acting in accordance with the regulatory guidelines which include closing your account without further intimation.”

Indian Bank Forcing Customers to Agree to Anti-Cryptocurrency Policy

According to Indiancryptogirl, “Many other banks have been sharing such communication on email and SMS since April 2018 with all their customers.”

The official website of Kotak Mahindra Bank also states that all of its branches carry a notice stating that the bank has disallowed “credit, debit, or prepaid cards for purchasing or trading in bitcoins, cryptocurrencies, or virtual currencies.” The notice continues:

If the bank were to receive instructions from the authorities, it would have to close any account that transacts in virtual currencies, possibly without any intimation, and would not be able to provide assistance in case of any losses incurred due to such dealings.

Indian Bank Forcing Customers to Agree to Anti-Cryptocurrency PolicyA spokesperson for Indian exchange Instashift explained to news.Bitcoin.com that Kotak Mahindra Bank is “a non-nationalized private bank so they have to certainly adhere to all RBI regulations, else their banking licence would be ceased.” Banks like Kotak Mahindra are taking extreme precaution “about how their customers are using their system so that they don’t come under any RBI scrutiny in the future,” he elaborated.

Furthermore, the spokesperson noted that, based on his experience, banks “are keeping an eye on everyone’s account and checking the remarks of a transaction.” They are “strictly adhering to the RBI directions and blocking accounts which they feel are being used to trade cryptocurrency,” he added. If customer accounts come “under scrutiny and the bank officers read the crypto keywords in remarks,” the accounts “would definitely get blocked.” Nonetheless, he emphasized:

But as per law, it’s the individual’s choice what to do with his hard earned money and the RBI has not banned cryptocurrency.

What do you think of Kotak Mahindra Bank forcing customers to agree to their anti-crypto policy? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter, @Vivekmacha, @Desicryptohodlr, Financial Express, and Kotak Mahindra Bank.


Need to calculate your bitcoin holdings? Check our tools section.

The post Indian Bank Forcing Customers to Agree to Anti-Cryptocurrency Policy appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Chatter Report: Zhao Says Blocking Customers ‘Not up to Us’, Lee Introduces the Term ‘Bitcoin Extremist’

January 7, 2019 |

Changpeng Zhao Says Blocking Customers ‘Not up to Us’, Lee Introduces the Term ‘Bitcoin Extremist’

In today’s chatter report, we delve into the Bitcoin Cash community’s responses to Cheapair.com re-enabling BCH payments for their travel services. Also, Changpeng Zhao explains Binance’s decision to block users. Finally, Crypto Twitter fires back at Charlie Lee’s new term ‘Bitcoin Extremist’. 

Also read: Cheapair.com Considers Bitpay as Coinbase Terminates Merchant Processing Solutions

Bitcoin Cash Re-enabled on Cheapair.com

Bitcoin Cash was recently re-enabled as a form of payment on travel booking website Cheapair.com and the r/btc subreddit rejoiced. While BCH payments have been re-enabled, commentator u/today_in_reddit noted that the travel site appears to have currently disabled Litecoin and Dash payments. The same reddit user also pointed out that prices on Cheapair.com were about about 8% more expensive than booking.com, with about 75% of the hotel selection.

Bitcoin Cash is back up on Cheapair.com!! from btc

Other community members like BTC_StKN marveled at the crypto community’s ability to live on crypto through the combined use of Cheapair.com, crypto ATM’s and crypto debit cards.

Changpeng Zhao Responds to District Restriction Queries

Binance exchange CEO Changpeng Zhao was recently asked by crypto community member Crypto Leprechaun whether U.S. citizens would ever be able to access Binance Launchpad, the token sale arm of Binance.

Zhao expressed deep regret, as the decision to block users from certain countries was not up to the Binance team. Ideally, Zhao would prefer to Binance’s services to be available to everyone worldwide.

Charlie Lee Polls Followers on Bitcoin Extremism

Recently, Litecoin founder Charlie Lee introduced the term “Bitcoin Extremists” on social media. Lee took to Twitter to distinguish Bitcoin Maximalists as people that believe Bitcoin will hold it’s place as the dominant cryptocurrency, and Bitcoin Extremists as those who believe that all altcoins are worthless scams. Lee then polled his followers to see if they were Bitcoin Extremists, Bitcoin Maximalists, Altcoin Maximalists, or Nocoiners.

Most of the responses to Lee were negative, with CTO of Casahodl Jameson Lopp sarcastically replying that he preferred the term “Bitcoin Supremacist” over Bitcoin Extremist.

Trader Tone Vays also did not like Lee’s new term. The former accused Lee Orwellian-like control over the narrative to demonize the Bitcoin maximalist community.

What do you think of the new term Bitcoin Extremist? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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The post Chatter Report: Zhao Says Blocking Customers ‘Not up to Us’, Lee Introduces the Term ‘Bitcoin Extremist’ appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Pay-TV giants plan to raise prices for customers who haven’t cut the cord

January 6, 2019 |

Another year, another increase to your monthly pay-TV bill.

Giants including Comcast Corp., Dish Network Corp. and AT&T Inc.’s DirecTV plan to raise rates again in the new year, a move that could boost revenue but risks alienating subscribers, who have been ditching their traditional TV subscriptions…


L.A. Times – Business

Thousands of Banned Binance Customers Remain Cut off by the Exchange

January 6, 2019 |

No Respite for Thousands of Binance Users Controversially Cut off by the Exchange

Binance, the world’s second largest digital asset exchange by traded volume, has withdrawn its services from countries targeted by U.S. economic sanctions, in line with its controversial revised terms of use. However, the ban affects entire populations in countries such as Zimbabwe, where U.S. restrictions are supposed to specifically target individuals and companies.

Also read: Bitcoin Primely Positioned as U.S.Foreign Policy Pushes Rivals to Ditch Dollar

Binance Seeks to Satisfy US Interests

Binance users in Iran, Belarus, Serbia, Bosnia, Myanmar and other restricted jurisdictions have reportedly been cut off for a month now after the global exchange sent a notice of termination. Although Binance’s terms now prohibit individuals and countries on the U.N. Security Council and the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Treasury Department (OFAC) sanctions lists, Russia is conspicuously exempt.

Many Zimbabweans who relied on Binance to buy and sell cryptocurrency are now in the lurch as only a handful of other global exchanges accept new account registrations from Zimbabweans due to sanctions. Local financial regulators have already crippled operations of erstwhile popular trading platforms like Golix with a backdoor ban on virtual currencies. After that, trading went underground and continues to flourish on social media platforms like Whatsapp and on emerging peer-to-peer exchanges.

Thousands of Banned Binance Customers Remain Cut off by the Exchange

“I just got the dreaded message when I tried to do a trade [on Binance] this evening,” lamented William Chui, a cryptocurrency broker, on Jan. 4. “Liquidated most of what I had and was keeping elsewhere. But where do I store these tokens?” he pondered, in reference to Binance coin (BNB) and cardano (ADA). Not many wallets support such assets.

The reach of the Zimbabwe Democratic and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera), under which Zimbabwe has been sanctioned for almost two decades, has long been a subject of controversy, with the U.S maintaining that the sanctions are targeted against individuals and institutions that are complicit in bad governance.

The latest Binance terms of use read, in part, “By accessing and using Binance and any of its services, you acknowledge and declare that you are not on any trade or economic sanctions lists, such as the UN Security Council Sanctions list or OFAC.”  These sanctions typically freeze assets of targeted countries, curtail financial transfers to individuals or states as well as suspend services to those on the embargo list.

However, Zimbabwean users who are not on the U.S. sanctions list have been thrown off the exchange by a blanket ban. The sweeping prohibition has no clear basis in either Binance’s new terms of use or Zidera, other than to simply placate U.S. interests. It is also unclear why an exchange that is based outside of the United States would go out of its way to meet the OFAC sanctions list.

Thousands of Banned Binance Customers Remain Cut off by the Exchange

Many were cut off without prior notice. A 36 year-old Harare woman who has kept her small investment of ripple and stellar on Binance for the past year wasn’t even aware that a ban had taken effect. “I have just realized that I cannot do anything on my account anymore, not even a withdrawal,” moaned the woman, who preferred to remain anonymous.

Questions Asked as Binance Targets Smaller Economies

Binance’s November 2018 notice raised few eyebrows, especially since the exchange selectively targeted smaller economies on the U.S. sanctions list. Belarus, for example, is targeted over its alliance with Russia, whereas the latter, a frequent target of Washington’s trade restrictions, is exempt.

Thousands of Banned Binance Customers Remain Cut off by the Exchange

Cryptocurrency has been often hailed as ushering in financial inclusivity and decentralization where the traditional financial system is entangled in geopolitical interests. Although Binance has highlighted its right to alter service terms at its sole discretion, the termination of service to customers to cozy up to political institutions undermines the self-sovereignty that is a key tenet of cryptocurrency – even when it is stored in third-party custodial wallets.

While bigger economies have been maintaining ambiguous or skeptical policies towards cryptocurrency, Belarus is among the smaller countries that have been crafting a crypto-friendly policy framework. Last year, Alexander Lukashenko’s administration legalized the business activities of crypto and blockchain companies registered with the Belarus High Technologies Park (HTP) in Minsk.

Belarusians’ space for buying, selling and trading digital assets is now constricted, but crypto investors can turn to verified online exchanges for their jurisdiction. These offer political immunity from foreign sanctions or internal restrictions.

Bitcoin enthusiasts can also revert to peer-to-peer exchanges such as Localbitcoins, while Crexby, a platform recently launched by Belarusians in the U.S., may soon introduce support for Belarusian ruble trades. Iran enjoyed a brief respite from international isolation over its nuclear programme and alleged bankrolling of terrorism after Barack Obama signed a non-proliferation deal with Tehran in 2016. Current president Donald Trump has renewed sanctions against the country however.

Thousands of Banned Binance Customers Remain Cut off by the Exchange

“Binance had a large liquidity and a number of coins/tokens that allowed me to trade easily. After being ‘kicked out’ my options are very limited for how I can grow my crypto holding, save for hodling,” stated Chui, a Zimbabwean trader.

At press time, Binance had not responded to request from news.Bitcoin.com for comment despite earlier assurances that it would do so.

What do you think about Binance’s unilateral decision to terminate services to some of its loyal users? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


Need to calculate your bitcoin holdings? Check our tools section.

The post Thousands of Banned Binance Customers Remain Cut off by the Exchange appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Potential KTLA-Channel 5 blackout looms for Charter Spectrum customers, threatening Rose Parade viewing tradition

December 28, 2018 |

Charter Communications’ Spectrum customers could miss out on a holiday tradition: watching KTLA Channel 5’s television coverage of the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena.

Charter and Chicago-based Tribune Media, which owns KTLA and 32 other television stations in Charter markets, including…


L.A. Times – Business

IBM CEO Criticizes Big Internet Platforms for Mishandling Customers’ Data

December 23, 2018 |

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty attacked big internet platforms for mishandling customers’ data and endorsed some EU efforts to police the web.
WSJ.com: US Business