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Thailand has officially granted licenses to three cryptocurrency exchanges and one broker-dealer. Two exchanges have been rejected and one is still being reviewed. These seven companies have been temporarily allowed to operate in the country. Two of them will now begin closing down their businesses.
Four Crypto Licenses Granted
The Thai Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced on Tuesday the results of the applications for crypto business licenses. Seven companies applied for a license and have been allowed to operate their crypto businesses while the regulators reviewed their applications.
The country’s ministry of finance “has granted digital asset business licences to four applicants,” the Thai SEC detailed, noting that two applications have been rejected and one is still under review.
Three crypto exchanges and one broker-dealer have received licenses. The three approved exchanges are Bitcoin Exchange Co. Ltd. (Bx), Bitkub Online Co. Ltd. (Bitkub), and Satang Corporation (Satang Pro). The approved broker-dealer is Coins Th Co. Ltd.
Meanwhile, the license application filed by local crypto exchange Coin Asset Co. Ltd. is still being reviewed but the company is permitted to keep operating while the decision has not been made. The delay is due to “a change of company executives, which is material information for the consideration of the application,” the commission described.
Two Crypto Exchanges Closing
The applications for crypto exchange licenses filed by Cash2coin Co. Ltd. and Southeast Asia Digital Exchange Co. Ltd. (Seadex) have been rejected. The Thai SEC revealed:
The applicants failed to meet the approval criteria regarding important work systems.
The commission added, “For example, the systems for custody of client assets and know your customer (KYC) were inconsistent with the SEC’s acceptable standards, while the sufficiency of their IT security and cyber security systems could not be verified.”
The two businesses have been notified of the closing down procedure by the Thai SEC.
The country’s ministry of finance is allowing both of them to continue operating until Jan. 14 “to ensure proper proceeding of related matters including notification to the clients regarding asset refunds or asset transfers to other digital asset operators according to the clients’ order,” the SEC noted. The two are required to return customer assets and notify the commission of the results. However, the regulator clarified:
The application rejection this time does not invalidate their right to apply for a digital asset business licence in the future as long as the application criteria are met.
What do you think of Thailand granting licenses to four crypto operators and rejecting two? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock and the Thai SEC.
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The Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA), the island’s foremost financial services regulator, has published a draft regulation for cryptocurrency custodial services. The regulation – Code of Practice for Digital Asset Custody – outlines prescriptions to ensure the secure handling of customers’ crypto assets.
‘Safe Space for Investment’
The authority, which is also tasked with prevention of financial crime, drafted the code to expand a safe space for investment that will not only protect local investors but also attract foreign businesses, it said in a statement on Dec. 18.
Security concerns with respect to hot and cold storage of assets, key generation, transaction handling and incident reporting are covered by the prescriptions, both technology and business wise. The regulatory clarity provided by the code is expected to ensure that business is done in a prudent manner.
Moad Fahmi, senior advisor on financial technology with the BMA, commended the draft regulation as progressive. “The code complements the extensive body of rules for Digital Asset Businesses. We view custody as an important part of a healthy digital asset ecosystem – one that will encourage quality players to contribute positively to our financial system,” Fahmi said.
He stated that the framework was built “with the aim of making sure that the core objectives of financial regulation are respected.” These include “protecting consumers, ensuring stability of our institutions and maintaining integrity and confidence in financial markets – with a focus on maintaining the highest standards of AML/ATF,” Fahmi detailed.
Craig Swan, the managing director of insurance at the authority said the code will expand BMA’s cybersecurity capacity as it moves into the regulation of digital assets, in keeping with its mandate to be forward-looking and comprehensive.
Some of the regulations are targeted at forestalling security breaches in the crypto world such as those that affected Mt. Gox, where one of the points of opacity is whether the former CEO embezzled clients’ money or used the company’s revenue procedurally. According to the BMA regulation, clients’ assets must be kept apart from the company’s assets for security reasons.
Bermuda Looks to Become Crypto Hub
The authority, which recently undertook consultations about the future of cryptocurrencies in Bermuda’s financial sector, is bent to weed out illegal activities such as money laundering. The code allows indemnity insurance for cryptocurrency exchanges. It also permits the roping in of qualified custodians and contingency measures to safeguard clients’ money.
Bermuda has been positioning itself as a choice destination for cryptocurrency businesses, with notable competition from Malta, Gibraltar and Liechtenstein, by providing regulatory clarity and maintaining a progressive attitude towards the industry. Earlier this year, Bermuda’s legislature passed a law allowing startups that do initial coin offerings to apply to the finance minister for speedy approval.
“We want to position Bermuda as the incubator for this industry,” E. David Bart, Prime Minister of Bermuda, said in an interview during a cryptocurrency conference in May. The latest regulation is a logical step towards bolstering investor confidence in the small but economically advanced country.
What do you think about Bermuda’s draft regulation on custodial services? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
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The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) has prepared draft rules designed to regulate digital assets and certain aspects of the country’s crypto industry. The move aims to establish Bahrain as a regional leader in the fintech sector and restore its role as a major banking hub in the Persian Gulf.
Addressing Market Demand
The regulations have been released for consultation and the bank has set Dec. 31 as the deadline for providing feedback. The proposals have been published on the bank’s website, local media reported.
The comprehensive rules cover the implementation of a licensing regime for companies operating cryptocurrency trading platforms. A supervisory mechanism for the providers of other services related to crypto assets has been developed as well.
The draft paper addresses the need to introduce measures to safeguard the interests of customers. It also contains technology standards designed to minimize and manage the cyber security risks associated with the nascent industry.
In a statement quoted by the Bahrain News Agency, CBB’s executive director of banking supervision Khalid Hamad explained:
This regulatory framework will address the demand from the market for these services and the need to recognize this financial innovation.
Hamad further commented that the CBB’s experience with the participants in Bahrain’s regulatory sandbox has been “insightful in shaping these rules.” The bank official was referring to Bahrain Fintech Bay, which was established to allow companies from the sector to operate and experiment with new ideas under lighter regulations.
Restoring Regional Leadership
Authorities in Manama launched the sandbox to boost the development of the fintech industry and increase the number of companies offering related services. At the same time, the initiative was part of efforts to reduce government expenditure through the implementation of new financial technology. In fintech Bahrain sees an opportunity to restore its position as a regional banking and business hub.
Bahrain Fintech Bay, which was set up in February of this year, has become home to around 30 companies working with cryptocurrencies, digital payments, blockchain and financial technologies. Other players in the Persian Gulf, including Abu Dhabi and Dubai, are also investing heavily to support the growth of fintech startups.
But while Bahrain’s CBB is working to adopt regulations for decentralized, private cryptocurrencies, the central bank of the United Arab Emirates and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority have announced plans to issue a government-controlled digital currency. The new “blockchain-backed” coin will be used to improve the efficiency of cross-border transactions between the two neighboring countries.
What do you think of Bahrain’s decision to regulate the crypto industry? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
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A Melbourne-based company is now offering crypto-backed loans. Helio operates under an Australian Credit License (ACL) issued by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). In the current bear market, cryptocurrency holders can borrow fiat money and keep their digital coins for better times.
Helio Lends Fiat Against Crypto as Collateral
Helio Lending accepts four major cryptocurrencies as collateral. The platform currently supports bitcoin core (BTC), ethereum (ETH), litecoin (LTC), and ripple (XRP). It offers loans for up to 48 months and with an APR of between 17 and 24 percent, depending on the value of the collateral.
Customers can choose between 30, 40 and 50 percent loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. For example, a 10,000 Australian-dollar loan with a 30 percent LTV would require the borrower to pledge 7.19 BTC as collateral. In this case, the APR would be 17 percent and the monthly payment 350 Australian dollars (around US $ 250).
Helio’s website has a calculator that can produce different loan configurations. The minimum amount that can be borrowed is set at 1,000 Australian dollars. The application process starts with providing a valid email address. To complete signup, applicants should follow the confirmation link sent by the platform.
Credit License Secured
According to Helio’s founder, John O’Shea, his company is the first licensed entity in Australia to offer crypto-backed loans. He believes there’s a massive market for digital assets in the country. Some estimates suggest that Australians perform cryptocurrency transactions worth around $ 2.8 million daily.
Speaking to Businessbuyinvest.com, O’Shea stated there are currently not enough service providers and companies willing or able to support the growing market and to loan against crypto assets. That’s why he sees an opportunity to “capitalize on something that is so highly sought after, yet so underserviced.” The entrepreneur explained:
We provide finance to both individuals and businesses through cryptocurrency asset-backed lending. This means that clients who hold bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin or ripple are able to use their assets as collateral for loan financing.
Unlike traditional lenders, Helio can rely on the digital assets transferred by its customers to a secured collateral wallet. In the event of a default, the company can sell the coins to cover the losses. At the same time, Helio’s customers can benefit from the protection provided by ACL and ASIC laws and regulations.
According to Australian media reports, Helio Lending has obtained its credit license by acquiring another company that held one, Cashflow Investment. The ACL license will allow Helio to offer its clients even more favorable terms in the future.
What do you think about cryptocurrency-backed loans? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
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The post Australian Company Issues Loans Backed by Cryptocurrencies appeared first on Bitcoin News.
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In less than a year since Estonia introduced licensing for companies operating in the cryptocurrency industry, the number of licenses issued has surpassed 900. Authorities in the Baltic country have adopted a rather progressive approach to regulating the crypto space but startups have complained that local banks are still reluctant to offer them regular services.
Approval Takes About Two Weeks
Estonia, which is among the first jurisdictions in the European Union to legalize crypto-related activities, grants two types of license. So far, around 500 licenses have been issued to entities operating digital asset exchange platforms. Over 400 cryptocurrency wallet providers have been licensed as well, Russian news outlet Bitnovosti reported, quoting Nikolay Demchuk from the law firm Njord which works in the sector.
Njord has recently published an overview of the situation around Estonian cryptocurrency licenses, quoting data from the country’s Register of Economic Activities. According to the report, obtaining a license is a relatively straightforward and simple process.
The Estonian Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), the regulator issuing the licenses, has 30 days to review each application but in most cases an approval is granted within only one or two weeks. However, a license can be revoked if the company has not started operations within six months of receiving it.
The main requirements businesses have to meet stem from various know-your-customer and anti-money laundering regulations. Crypto entities registered in Estonia are legally operating in the EU, of which the country is a member state, and licensees are obliged to comply with relevant local and European laws.
Opening a Bank Account Still a Problem
Much like other countries where authorities have been trying to create a crypto-friendly environment, Switzerland for example, traditional financial institutions in Estonia have been slow to catch up with regulators and hesitant to respond to the needs of the nascent industry. Restricted access to regular banking services remains a major hurdle for Estonian fintech businesses, many of which are now working with foreign banks and payment providers. Nikolay Demchuk commented:
Opening a bank account is the biggest problem facing crypto companies. Estonian banks are not yet ready to serve clients operating with cryptocurrency.
Nevertheless, many investors have been attracted by the generally favorable conditions offered by Estonia. The country has already issued licenses to a number of crypto startups. In early June, regulators granted licenses for wallet and exchange services to trading platform Coinmetro. Later that month, a company that develops trading software and white label solutions, Ibinex, obtained a license to operate from Estonia. In September and this week FIU approved the applications filed by two new cryptocurrency exchanges – Ironx and B2bx.
Taking the Lead in Europe
The new Estonian Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act came into force almost a year ago. According to Demchuk, the legislation has allowed Estonia to become the first country in the European Union to regulate the circulation of cryptocurrencies and implement the licensing regime for companies operating in the sector.
At some point, the tiny European nation even planned to issue its own cryptocurrency, Estcoin. However, Tallinn was forced to abandon the idea under pressure from EU institutions. The strongest criticism came from the European Central Bank. In September of last year, its President Mario Draghi stated that “No member state can introduce its own currency” in the Eurozone.
This past summer, it was reported that the government intends to proceed with a limited-scale project to issue an Estonian digital token. The crypto may be used for transactions between participants in the country’s e-residency program. Tens of thousands of foreign nationals have already been issued the special digital ID cards that allow them to take advantage of many benefits offered by Estonia, from simplified procedures for establishing a company to preferential taxation.
What do you think about Estonian policies regarding the cryptocurrency industry? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Bitsane, Covesting, Swissone.
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