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Twenty years ago, automakers won exclusive rights to use a portion of U.S. airwaves for ultra-safe “talking cars” that would communicate with one another wirelessly, seeing around corners and averting collisions.
That future hasn’t arrived. Now, with just one talking vehicle on the road — a lone…
The pharmaceutical industry is signaling resistance to a Trump administration plan to require that the list price be included for most drugs in television ads, setting the stage for a protracted fight over a proposal with broad bipartisan support.
WSJ.com: US Business
William “Bill” Coors—the man who helped make the brewery started by his grandfather, Adolph Coors, one of the largest in the world—died at his home Saturday. He was 102, KOAA reports. “Our company stands on the shoulders of giants like Bill Coors,” Molson Coors Brewing Company CEO Mark…
LendingClub Corp.’s former chief executive officer agreed to be banned from the securities industry for at least three years to resolve allegations that he misused investors’ money.
Renaud Laplanche, 47, will pay $ 200,000 to settle U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission claims that he directed…
In recent news pertaining to cryptocurrency regulations, industry leaders have urged U.S. lawmakers to provide regulatory clarity or risk a crypto firm exodus, a Greek representative to the European Parliament has advocated for a lightweight cryptocurrency apparatus to avoid stifling innovation across the distributed ledger technologies industries, and the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority has issued a warning regarding purported cryptocurrency company, Alliance Capitals.
Industry Leaders Warn U.S. Lawmakers to Provide Clarity or Risk Crypto Exodus
At a recent regulatory round-table held at Capitol Hill and hosted by congressman Warren Davidson, a number of cryptocurrency industry leaders warned lawmakers that a continued lack of regulatory clarity could lead to an exodus of firms seeking clear legislative guidelines in other jurisdictions.
Kraken co-founder and CEO Jesse Powell emphasized the disadvantaged position U.S.-based cryptocurrency firms and investors are in as a result of the current regulatory ambiguity, stating “Foreign companies are able to outraise their U.S. competitors and often whoever raises the most money is who wins. Not only are U.S. companies not able to raise enough to compete globally, U.S. investors are not able to invest in these global companies.”
Joyce Lai, a lawyer for Consensys, stated: “The competition around the world is real. But there is still time and opportunity for the U.S. to be a leader here.”
Congressman Davidson echoed the call for regulators to work toward providing clarity as quickly as possible, stating: “Legitimate players in the industry have a desire for some sort of certainty so we can prevent and prosecute fraud. I’m confident we can move forward and make this a flourishing market in the U.S. It’s an imperative for us to do, we did it well with the internet.”
Eva Kaili Advocates Minimal Regulation for DLT Industries
Eva Kaili, a member of the European Council representing the Greek Panhellenic Socialist Movement, recently argued in favor of light regulation of the distributed ledger (DLT) industries at last week’s Concordia Summit in New York.
Mrs. Kaili insisted that regulations are a barrier to the speed of innovation that the DLT industries are capable of producing, stating: “One thing that we have in the E.U. and the U.K. — we have too many regulations that can at least delay the innovation. In blockchain, we tend to move very fast.”
“If it’s a fraud, it’s a fraud. If it’s not a fraud but it’s not following the rules, we gotta change the rules […] we don’t have an excuse not to explore the opportunities this technology gives us to solve global problems,” she added.
FINMA Issues Public Warning Regarding Alliance Capitals
Switzerland’s financial regulatory body, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA), has added Alliance Capitals, a firm purporting to offer a number of cryptocurrency services, to its warning list of “companies and individuals who may be carrying out unauthorized services and are not supervised by FINMA.”
Despite claiming to offer a trading platform, binary options, a venture investment fund focused on initial coin offerings, and a mining investment scheme, the services offered are hosted on third-party websites that prompt malicious content warnings.
Do you think that U.S. regulators will soon act to provide clear legislative guidelines for the cryptocurrency and DLT industries? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Wikipedia, finma.ch,
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Secured loans in the digital lending space are witnessing a lot of innovations. But thinking of cryptocurrencies as collateral forms for these loans is still a big question, one full of regulatory and practical concerns.
Loans Secured Against Bitcoins
If there is anything that has undergone a change, thanks to digital players in the BFSI space in India, it is – everything. Just pick lending and you can see how big data, social media weight, machine learning, etc. have made KYC (Know Your Customer) and credit-checks different. Add to that the use of APIs (Application Program Interfaces) and virtual elements for fast disbursement, and one can see why speed and ease are making digital loans stand apart.
So why not use cryptocurrency instead of gold or property to cushion a secured loan? Truly ‘digitize’ a loan? News.Bitcoin.com surveyed players in the industry, and there responses can be categorized as skeptical.
Abhi Upadhyay, a professional in the mobile lending space, dismisses the hope. “Traditional financial institutions like banks are never going to come close to accept cryptocurrency as security.”
But this ‘traditional’ legacy is exactly where and why challengers have started to win. Digital lenders have compellingly questioned deep-rooted processes and red tape in the lending industry in India by experimenting a lot, such as with the use of social media instead of old-school documentation for KYC and credibility checks. So why not bitcoin?
Regulation, Regulation, Regulation
Manav Jeet, Founder and CEO of Rubique, a prominent fintech player in the digital space, says the use of cryptocurrency as a collateral in the case of secured loans is a long shot. The biggest difference is the amount of regulation India posits in comparison to other regions. “We are the best regulated markets, and even in terms of awareness only a tiny portion of Indian population is using cryptocurrency. It will take a lot of time for us to get to the stage where we can imagine this form being used in secured loans,” Manav Jeet insisted.
For Piyush Kabra, VP, Finance at Lendingkart, warns the practical problems around encashing bitcoins and registration, again thanks to regulatory reasons, would be factorsas to why cryptocurrency will not work against a loan – not yet, at least.
The use of cryptocurrency in secured loans is a possibility if you ask Saurabh Shankar, head of marketing at Paysense, another digital lending disruptor in India, with data science behind its intent of serving mall-ticket loan segments as well. But he explains how collateral works. “It is an additional security measure for us when we lend to a customer. Any other form of collateral can be used as security for sure, so why not bitcoin? But the current regulatory environment is not exactly an incentive to consider such options. This may also need additional work. Crypto-to-crypto lending may not be too tricky but crypto-to-fiat would be a whole new space to reckon.”
Crypto and Loans – Not Mixing Yet
India is a changing market, but one that is still under-served when it comes to instant, flexible, and small loans for the middle class. Estimates show how digitized customer journeys chop the cost of processing to about 33% of the original cost. Plus, servicing costs is almost 1/10th that of physical channels when we look at digital channels. That’s not impossible to achieve when a player banks on technology to break the loan chain and to disaggregate lumps of delays that weigh down a usual lending process. Using behavioral analytics, cash flows, social media signals, and peer reports instead of legacy underwriting processes or income-tax returns – this is what many smart digital lenders started doing early on.
We are staring at a global fintech software and services sector of $ 45 billion by 2020 (from what NASSCOM reckons). Interestingly, India has exhibited the second highest fintech adoption rate (59% while the global average is 33%) as per the EY Fintech adoption index.
Globally, players like Biterest, Coinloan and Abic have started offering such loans that are secured against bitcoin. There we can see advantages like variety, speed, automation and no limits. It matters when there is no need of liquidation of an asset to get money out of it (the reason people use fixed deposits in secured loans). Then, there is the side of significant appreciation of value over time (which can be higher than loan interest). Also, concerns around forked cryptocurrencies have been addressed by many such players. After all, fungibility, preservation potential, and liquidity are true tests when it comes to how people think of money.
Yet, talk of cryptocurrency’s use in the BFSI space is full of hesitation and confusion, even for disruptors. Responses from other players like Innoviti and Capital Float could not be elicited. But as Saurabh pins it, conceptually the idea is not bad but the practical side here revolves around regulations and actual ease.
What do you think about the idea of bitcoins for secured loans? Let us know in the comment section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
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The U.S. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has taken its first disciplinary action involving cryptocurrencies. The authority charges a broker with fraudulent and unlawful distribution of unregistered crypto securities. The owner allegedly “attempted to lure public investment in his worthless public company” by issuing “the first minable coin backed by marketable securities.”
FINRA’s First Crypto Disciplinary Action
The U.S. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has issued its first crypto-related disciplinary action. The organization announced on Tuesday, September 11, “that it filed a complaint against Timothy Tilton Ayre of Agawam, Massachusetts, charging him with securities fraud and the unlawful distribution of an unregistered cryptocurrency security called Hempcoin,” adding:
This case represents FINRA’s first disciplinary action involving cryptocurrencies.
FINRA is a not-for-profit organization authorized by Congress to protect investors in the US by ensuring that the broker-dealer industry operates fairly and honestly. Although the organization is not part of the government, it is overseen by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In addition, FINRA “has the authority to fine, suspend or bar brokers and firms from the industry,” its website describes.
According to Tuesday’s notice, “The issuance of a disciplinary complaint represents the initiation of a formal proceeding by FINRA in which findings as to the allegations in the complaint have not been made, and does not represent a decision as to any of the allegations contained in the complaint.” All parties named in the complaint can file a response and request a hearing before a FINRA disciplinary panel, the notice details, noting:
Possible remedies include a fine, censure, suspension or bar from the securities industry, disgorgement of gains associated with the violations and payment of restitution.
The Hempcoin Case
Ayre is listed as the president of Rocky Mountain Ayre Inc., a publicly traded company listed on the OTC Grey market under the RMTN trading symbol.
In its complaint, FINRA alleges that, from January 2013 through October 2016, Ayre made “fraudulent, positive statements about RMTN’s business finances,” elaborating:
Ayre attempted to lure public investment in his worthless public company, Rocky Mountain Ayre Inc. (RMTN), by issuing and selling Hempcoin – which he publicized as ‘the first minable coin backed by marketable securities’.
According to FINRA, Ayre bought the rights to Hempcoin in June 2015. He then repackaged the token as a security backed by RMTN common stock and marketed it as “the world’s first currency to represent equity ownership” in a publicly traded company.
Investors, promised that “each coin was equivalent to 0.10 shares of RMTN common stock,” proceeded to mine more than 81 million Hempcoin securities through late 2017, FINRA described, noting that the coins were traded on two crypto exchanges.
FINRA believes that “Ayre defrauded investors in RMTN by making materially false statements and omissions regarding the nature of RMTN’s business, failing to disclose his creation and unlawful distribution of Hempcoin, and making multiple false and misleading statements in RMTN’s financial statements,” adding:
FINRA charges Ayre with the unlawful distribution of an unregistered security because he never registered Hempcoin and no exemption to registration applied.
What do you think of FINRA’s first crypto disciplinary action? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Rocky Mountain Ayre Inc.
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In today’s edition of The Daily we cover stories about two Nobel winners to advise the crypto industry, another leading sports team launching a fan token, Malta Stock Exchange and Binance creating a new trading venue, and a Chinese company that will transform a US Defense Department facility into a mining farm.
Two Nobel Laureates to Advise Crypto Industry
Cryptic Labs, a commercial research firm, has announced the addition of Dr. Eric S. Maskin and Sir Christopher Pissarides to its Economics Advisory Board, both winners of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. Dr. Maskin of Harvard University will focus on game theory and mechanism design, with an emphasis on how blockchain companies can guide user incentives at a company level, while Dr. Pissarides of the London School of Economics will provide expertise on macroeconomic trends.
Pissarides said: “Blockchain is the most exciting development in financial markets in recent years, but we still don’t know enough about it to recommend a wholesale transition of all our transaction records to blockchain. I look forward to working with the team at Cryptic Labs to leverage my expertise in macroeconomics to help companies improve the use of blockchain, make it more secure and more widely accessible, and examine the implications that it has for trade, financial markets and economic performance.”
Maskin commented: “I think that blockchain technology is potentially important for a modern economy. Most discussions of blockchain technology focus on technical issues. I am more interested in the economic value such technology can bring. I believe that my background in economics and mechanism design should be useful for that purpose.”
Paris Saint-Germain Launches Fan Token
Paris Saint-Germain Football Club is the latest sports team to create a fan token. The French club signed a multi-year strategic partnership with Socios and will be the first team to join the platform. As “Official Branded Cryptocurrency Partner”, Socios will benefit from a wide range of marketing rights including in-stadium, TV and digital exposure.
As part of the partnership, Socios will develop a “Fan Token Offering (FTO)” for the club. The token will be listed on the platform and will allow fans to engage through mobile voting and polling platforms as well as grant access to exclusive rewards, content and experiences.
Marc Armstrong, Chief Partnerships Officer of Paris Saint Germain said, “Always at the forefront of digital innovation, Paris Saint-Germain is determined to leverage the opportunities that cryptocurrency can provide. This revolutionary technology will have an important impact on the Club’s overall business strategy and the way we engage with our fanbase. We are very pleased to welcome Socios.com to the Paris Saint-Germain family.”
Malta Stock Exchange and Binance to Create a New Token Exchange
MSX, the fintech arm of the Malta Stock Exchange, has signed an agreement with Binance to launch a digital exchange for security tokens. The new trading platform is meant to leverage Binance’s international reach and the regulated stock exchange’s expertise in regulatory compliance and client due diligence.
“We are excited to continue to help build the blockchain ecosystem in Malta, which has become a global hub for blockchain technology through active and transparent crypto regulations,” said Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance. “This partnership will allow Binance and MSX to host traditional financial assets on blockchain technology through security tokens. We look forward to bringing more innovations to Malta and further establishing our presence here.”
Joe Portelli, Chairman of the Malta Stock Exchange, stated, “Malta is taking the helm of regulating blockchain technology and cultivating a centre of excellence within the global digital innovation landscape. The Malta Stock Exchange is thrilled to be teaming up with Binance, a market leader in the digital asset sector, and we look forward to seeing this exciting new market opportunity develop and push the boundaries of the Maltese financial sector.”
Chinese Company to Transform US Defense Department Facility into Mining Farm
Wuhan General Group (China), Inc. (OTC PINK: WUHN) has announced that it’s negotiating a redesign of a US Defense Department data center into a mining facility. According to the company, the 55,000 sq. ft facility has over 3MW of power ready to accommodate up to 1,300 mining rigs with an additional 12,000 to be deployed upon its upgrade to a 30MW facility in 2019. The first order of rigs from Asicminer should arrive in late October and more are expected in the coming months. The company estimates this operation can bring monthly revenue in excess of $ 3.5 million based on current cryptocurrency market prices for the initial 1,300 mining machines in operation.
CEO Ramy Kamaneh said: “We had planned to build this operation three months ago, but with the bearish cryptocurrency market, we took a step back to reassess our strategy. The decision to wait for market stability was a good one, especially considering many cryptocurrency machines are no longer profitable in the current market. We acted in the best interests of the Company and its shareholders and firmly believe that the market has bottomed and a bullish market is starting again.”
What do you think about today’s news tidbits? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
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U.S. V. Zaslavskiy, 17-cr-0647, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn), just might go down as a definitive case for cryptocurrency enthusiasts. Many, many billions of dollars generated through initial coin offerings (ICOs) are now, according to a federal judge, considered under the jurisdiction of securities laws.
Also read: Philippines Okays PDAX Crypto Exchange
Federal Judge Rules ICOs are Securities
“Per the indictment, no diamonds or real estate, or any coins, tokens, or currency of any imaginable sort, ever existed – despite promises made to investors to the contrary,” Federal District Judge Raymond J. Dearie ruled. “Simply labeling an investment opportunity as a ‘virtual currency’ or ‘cryptocurrency’ does not transform an investment contract – a security – into a currency.”
Prosecutors in the case are touting it as a first. Maksim Zaslavskiy, a Brooklyn businessman, conspired and committed two counts of securities fraud during two ICOs, they allege. In his defense, Mr. Zaslavskiy suggested the law as written was too vague, and claimed the ICOs in question were currencies, and not, in fact, securities.
ICOs, of course, are a relatively novel and new way for startups to raise capital. Taken from the legacy practice of bringing a traditional company to market through an initial public offering (IPO), ICOs skip over much of the friction IPOs have gathered as more laws and regulations are heaped upon them. Should the same standards apply to ICOs, very few, if any, would survive. ICOs are usually characterized by their lack of officialdom, their appeal to every-day investors without regard to designations such as being accredited. This has made for a wealth transfer revolution, but it has also brought upon investors many scams.
The ruling set the stage for a jury to make the ultimate determination about whether indeed an ICO, as put forward by Mr. Zaslavskiy, is indeed a security. The judge did make it clear he believed the case fit well within securities law as presently constructed. The ruling, if upheld, could set precedence for future ICO-related suits brought about by both alleged victims and regulators.
The defense was hoping to stop the case in its tracks after their client was charged with pushing cryptocurrencies, promising they were backed by diamonds and real estate. Prosecutors could find no evidence to the defense claims, and a judge, rather than ruling on the merits of the case, merely agreed existing law could be applied in this instance if a jury found in favor of the government.
Experts are weighing in on the preliminary decision, insisting this clears the way for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to get even more aggressive when it comes to ICOs, an industry closing-in on nearly $ 20 billion raised so far this year. In determining whether a financial product can be classified a security, the SEC often appeals to the a 1946 Supreme Court case which established the so-called Howey Test. Simply put, an asset is a security when an investment of money is handed over to a common business, and that investor expects profits to be siphoned to him by way of another’s toil. Current SEC Chair Jay Clayton, as recently as this summer, has reiterated he believes all such ICOs belong under the securities designation.
Are ICOs securities? Let us know in the comments section below.
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The Russian crypto industry association is launching a crypto certification program. Applicants will be evaluated and issued a certificate showing their competency level which can be verified on the association’s website. Training will be offered to those that do not score the required number of points.
Crypto Certification Program
The Russian Association of Cryptoindustry and Blockchain (Racib) unveiled on Wednesday, September 5, the details of its upcoming voluntary crypto certification program.
Formerly known as the Russian Association of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain, Racib announced its name change to the Russian Association of Cryptoindustry and Blockchain on September 6, keeping its acronym unchanged.
On September 4, the association approved the concept of crypto trader certification, proposed by its vice president, Andrei Grachev. He revealed that the program will be launched “in the coming month,” RBC reported, adding that the association started developing the criteria for this system in May and the program is now ready to launch.
The certification system will be based on several criteria, the news outlet conveyed, noting that assessments will be made in areas such as “reporting, workflow, customer service, remuneration, risk sharing and profit sharing.” The publication further elaborated:
The competence evaluation will be conducted according to the following criteria: knowledge of technical analysis, knowledge of fundamental analysis, knowledge of semantic analysis, knowledge of risk management, knowledge of money management, skills of drawing up of trading strategy, trading planning skills, margin trading skills, [and] self-control skills.
The association says “both traders and funds can take part” in this program, the news outlet explained. By traders, Grachev referred to those trading professionally for clients. He noted that the certification “will not be free, because if a person is going to professionally handle this activity and manage other people’s money, he must have some [of his] own capital.”
“There will be several levels” such as basic and professional for “when a person has certain experience and business level,” he told RBC.
“Applicants will receive a certificate confirming the level of their competence. Each registered document has a unique number that can be checked on the organization’s website in the corresponding section,” the publication detailed, adding:
In the event that a trader or fund [manager] can not score the required number of points, he will be offered to undergo training for additional knowledge at the Racib center.
The association has also been keeping a registry of whitelisted crypto companies since July.
What do you think of this crypto certification program? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Racib.
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