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Madison Holdings Group Ltd. has agreed to buy 67.2 percent of Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Bitocean for 1.68 billion yen ($ 15.12 million). Inclusive of fees, the wines and alcoholic beverages company will pay a total $ 30.12 million. According to local media reports, the deal is to be completed through a subsidiary, Madison Labs.
Acquisition to Diversify Operations and Expand Income Sources
Madison is an investment holding company popular for selling top-end French wines. The $ 546 million-valued company is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange’s Growth Enterprise Market (GEM), a junior segment of the bourse. The company also has interests in corporate finance activities, financial advisory services and asset management.
Bitocean is registered as a crypto exchange with Japan’s Financial Services Agency, but has not commenced trading yet. According to papers filed with GEM, sometime this month, Madison is buying the stake from “independent third parties,” in what management said was part of the company’s “diversification strategy.”
A report in the South China Morning Post (SCMP) also detailed plans by HDR Cadenza Management – a unit of HDR Global Trading, owners of crypto exchange Bitmex – to acquire a 51 percent stake in Madison Labs for $ 17.14 million. Both deals have yet to be closed. Raymond Ting Pang-wan, chairman of Madison, stated:
Our wine business is stable and profitable, but then it is small. It is hard to make wine trading into a very big business. This is why we have to diversify into financial technology and the cryptocurrency business – to achieve a better return for our shareholders. Virtual currencies and blockchain are getting more popular. Investing in the virtual currency sector will expand our income source.
Lured by Japan’s Robust Crypto Regulation
Pang-wan told SCMP that his company was not concerned about the current market slump, which has seen the price of bitcoin core (BTC) plummet by more than 80 percent from its December 2017 all-time-high of almost $ 20,000. “Bitcoin is cheap, which has created a good opportunity for us to enter the market. We are eyeing the long term, so we are not worried about short-term volatility,” he was quoted as saying.
He said the decision to enter Japan, which controls about a fifth of the global cryptocurrency trading total, was motivated by the existence of a comprehensive regulatory framework in the Pacific island nation. “We wanted to invest in a platform that was under proper regulation,” said Pang-wan.
Japan is building one of the strongest regulatory frameworks for the cryptocurrency industry, ostensibly to prevent cases of theft of investor funds. The $ 530 million Coincheck hack in January marked a crucial turning point in crypto regulation in the country. Today, Japan has the Virtual Currency Exchange Association, a self-regulatory body, while exchanges applying for a license with the Financial Services Authority have to go through a rigorous verification process.
According to the SCMP report, Gary Cheung Wai-kwok, chairman of the Hong Kong Securities Association, said: “This is a small investment for the company (Madison), so it will not take too big a risk. It makes sense for the company to diversify its business to achieve higher income.”
What do you think about Madison’s deals with Bitocean and Bitmex? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
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President Trump on Wednesday reiterated that he won’t release his personal or Trump Organization’s tax returns until the review of them is completed.
Disney appears to gain a friendly majority in Anaheim City Council. The ‘living wage’ initiative is still too close to callNovember 8, 2018 | dailybusinessnews
After butting heads for two years with the Anaheim City Council, Walt Disney Co. appears to have won a favorable majority on the panel as candidates backed by the media giant were well ahead in a wide field of hopefuls.
Three City Council candidates, including the mayor, who received campaign support…
One of the central pillars of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general is that the system is decentralized, ensuring no single point of failure for adversaries to attack. However, new research has found the majority of assets in the ecosystem today to be highly centralized.
Taxonomy Report Reveals a Concentration of Crypto Power
Cryptocompare, the cryptocurrency market data aggregator, has published a Cryptoasset Taxonomy Report. The nearly 80-page document is designed to provide investors, regulators and the industry with an independent classification of coins and tokens to help differentiate from a long list of ever-growing options.
The report is based on an analysis of over 200 crypto assets, using more than 30 attributes and covering a range of economic, legal and technological features. Researchers analyzed these assets from a variety of perspectives including regulatory classifications, access and governance, market cap and volume data, level of decentralization, and distribution and supply concentration.
Charles Hayter, CEO of Cryptocompare, said: “Daily, retail and institutional investment communities express an appetite to invest and develop investment products and instruments based on crypto assets. Key to this is the demand for a single, independent and trustworthy taxonomy offering transparency, consistency and confidence.”
Just 16% of Cryptocurrencies Are Really Decentralized
In the section on centralization and counter-party, the report identifies how regulators might approach their decision as to whether an asset is centralized and thus possibly deemed a security. A fundamental point the researchers found is that decentralized and open source projects may not rely on a central issuer. Using this distinction, the taxonomy has explored the extent to which crypto assets are de facto decentralized.
The results of this analysis are quite disappointing for cryptocurrency proponents. Just 16% of crypto assets were found to be truly decentralized, with 55% categorized as centralized and the rest as semi-decentralized. Even just looking at payment tokens, defined as assets intended to provide a means of payment or value exchange which do not confer any claims upon the issuer, just 37% were found to be decentralized.
Do you think decentralization matters with cryptocurrencies, and if so, to what extent? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Cryptocompare.
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The US remains a leading destination for ICO projects according to a new study that also ranks Switzerland and Singapore in the top three. The report notes that authorities in other jurisdictions, like Russia and Estonia, are working to adopt favorable regulations in order to attract more crypto startups. The findings coincide with another study identifying 78% of all ICOs as scams.
A Third of the Largest ICOs Held in the US
Despite regulatory uncertainty, the United States has established itself as the leading destination for companies conducting Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), a new study confirms. According to the recently published report, 30 of the 100 largest token sales were held by companies based in the US. The data compiled by the team of the Crypto Finance Conference places Switzerland second with 15 ICOs, and Singapore third with 11 of the biggest coin offerings.
“ICOs continue to gain momentum. They raised $ 6.3 billion in the first quarter of 2018 — more than was raised in all of 2017,” said the chief executive of CFC, Andrea-Franco Stöhr, quoted by Venture Beat. In a released statement, he also commented that the research provides an opportunity to understand which countries are embracing blockchain and crypto projects and how they do it.
The authors of the study also note that a number of countries are making efforts to adopt and implement regulations that would attract and encourage more initial coin offerings. The Russian Federation, which hosted six of the top 100 projects, is one of them. Another report published earlier this year claimed that startups with Russian participation raised $ 310 million. That study covered a total of 370 token sales.
The other nation that has been mentioned in the study as a crypto-friendly jurisdiction is Estonia, with four of the largest ICOs. According to some reports, the tiny Baltic country accounts for up to 10% of all funds raised through initial coin offerings last year.
78% of ICO Projects Identified as Scams
Despite two recent studies suggesting investors are still bullish on ICOs, a research conducted by the Boston College revealed that less than half of ICOs survive four months after sale. Now, another study, authored by the research company Satis Group, tells us that a staggering 78% of all coin offerings conducted last year have turned out to be scams. These ICOs promised big profits but shared very little information about the project and the team behind it or didn’t even publish a white paper. Most of them disappeared right after the token sale.
The updated data in the “Cryptoasset Market Coverage Initiation: Network Creation” report, released last week, also shows that 4% of the ICO projects have failed to meet their fundraising targets and have returned the capital to the investors. Another 3% were never listed on a trading platform. Only 15% of the coins sold through ICOs continued to be listed and traded on exchanges. Of those currently trading, 7% are deemed ‘successful’, 3% are said to be ‘promising’, and 4% are tagged ‘dwindling’.
It’s been estimated that of the $ 12 billion raised by ICOs, $ 1.3 billion (11%) was lost to scams, $ 1.7 billion (14%) disappeared in failed projects, and $ 624 million (5%) went to those that had gone dead. However, more than 70%, or $ 8 billion USD, went to ICOs that eventually reached exchanges. According to the study, most of the funds appropriated by scams were invested in three projects. These are Pincoin ($ 660 million), Arisebank ($ 600 million) and Savedroid ($ 50 million).
Do you think the regulatory efforts in many jurisdictions will decrease the number of fraudulent ICOs? Share your expectations in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Satis Group.
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More than two thirds of the leading cryptocurrency exchanges and wallet providers on both sides of the Atlantic fail to conduct proper identity verification checks. According to new research into their onboarding practices, most of the studied platforms do not meet the requirements of the upcoming regulations under the updated EU anti-money laundering directive.
‘Crypto Identity Crisis’
The research, titled “The Cryptocurrency Identity Crisis: An Industry Scorecard for Digital ID Verification for KYC and AML”, looked into the onboarding practices of leading cryptocurrency exchanges and wallet providers in Europe and the US. Its main goal was to determine whether these prominent platforms implement proper Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures regarding new users. The study was conducted by P.A.ID Strategies and commissioned by Mitek, a provider of digital identity verification solutions.
The results show that 68% of 25 examined crypto exchanges and custodian wallets allow users to trade crypto and fiat currencies without conducting formal identification. These companies do not meet many of the requirements mandated by the upcoming EU regulations. They are not performing identity verification checks against official identity documents and lists of politically exposed persons. There is no sanctions screening or audit trail to trace criminal activity.
The EU’s fifth anti-money laundering directive, AMLD5, is due to come into effect next year. It is expected to bring crypto-related services in line with the standards applied to other financial products such as those offered by banks. That includes mandatory identity checks on new customers like those conducted by traditional financial institutions.
The European Parliament adopted the European Commission’s proposal for a Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive on April 19 this year. The document aims to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing through the financial system of the European Union. It was proposed by the Commission in 2016, even before AMLD4 was implemented by all member-states. The updated directive introduces stricter requirements for customer due diligence procedures and identity verification.
Exchanges and Wallets Ranked
Under the new rules, cryptocurrency exchanges and wallet providers will be obliged to apply for registration. The platforms in the study have been ranked according to how compliant their onboarding process is with the AMLD5 provisions.
Topping the list are exchanges like Coinbase, Gemini, Poloniex, and Itbit. All these require users to present official ID documents to begin trading. They have received an “ID Verification Score” of 9 out of 10. Platforms like Kraken, Bitstamp, Wirex, Local Bitcoins, Bitpanda, and Bitwala are also included in the survey.
A verified email address and a mobile phone number are often enough to sign up for the exchanges and wallets that do not have KYC procedures. The researchers note that both are easily obtainable without identification. Users can start trading with any email address and a number from a prepaid cell phone service.
“Cryptocurrency wallets and exchanges want to enjoy the same trust as the wider traditional financial services,” said John Devlin, Principal Analyst at P.A.ID Strategies, quoted by Real Wire. “Meeting regulatory demands ahead of AMLD5 coming into force could go a long way to changing this sector’s reputation as being something of a ‘wild west’,” he added.
Mitek COO Kalle Marsal believes that crypto exchanges and wallet providers want to change the “perceptions of lawlessness,” which in his words is a relatively straightforward fix. “Identity verification processes can be, if implemented correctly, simple for the customer and no barrier to signing up,” he argued.
Do you expect exchanges and wallets to comply with the stricter EU regulations? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Walmart has reached a deal to sell a majority of its Brazil operations to private-equity firm Advent International, as the global retail giant scales operations in markets where it has struggled.
WSJ.com: US Business
On Monday the blockchain research and development firm, Nchain, announced the acquisition of a majority stake in the Bitcoin Cash-centric startup Handcash. The Handcash platform allows users to send BCH in a contactless manner using near field communication (NFC) technology.
Nchain Acquires a Majority Stake in the BCH Platform Handcash
This week the firm Nchain Group announced they had “closed a deal” that gives the company a large stake in the Handcash platform. According to Nchain, the deal was facilitated through the company’s investment arm Nchain Reaction. News.Bitcoin.com reported on Handcash this past February when the team launched its bitcoin cash beta client for Android phones. The Handcash app allows users to transact with BCH using NFC technology and the platform was created by two developers from Spain, Alejandro Pascual Agut and Rafael Jiménez Seibane.
“Bitcoin was conceived to be peer-to-peer electronic cash — So we wondered why Bitcoin was not being used like cash,” Alejandro Agut explained during the announcement.
That gave us the idea to create a wallet application that allows you to send Bitcoin in a way that resembles handing someone cash, by merely placing a sender’s mobile device close to the recipient’s device.
The Nakasendo SDK
Earlier this month, the Handcash development team also revealed they were allowed to use the Nchain software development kit (SDK) Nakasendo before it was publicly released. News.Bitcoin.com spoke directly with Agut about how the new partnership with Nchain what the BCH community expect from Handcash going forward.
“It certainly opens up new collaborations with other apps and services from the Nchain family right away, so we can put our protocols there and vice versa,” Agut details. “We are already working with a “Magic Protocol” that will be able to connect your Handcash wallet to third-party services — It uses the Nakasendo SDK — Also, we are going to be first in line to test upcoming SDKs for a few new features we want to adopt in the future.”
It has been very easy to work with them. And in the end it’s all about human connections — and they do a great job with managing with all dev teams and projects.
User Interfaces Need to Become Better and Easier
Nchain says that the application Handcash make it easier to send BCH in a contactless fashion without any of the processes of copying an address or scanning a QR code.
“For Bitcoin Cash to grow, user interfaces need to become better and easier to use — We are impressed with Handcash and its vision for simplifying the Bitcoin Cash transaction process to a contactless approach,” Nchain Group’s CEO Jimmy Nguyen stated during the acquisition.
Nchain is thrilled to support Handcash on its journey to make Bitcoin Cash wallets and payment systems easy to use around the world, and to ignite global adoption of Bitcoin Cash.
Over the years there have been a couple attempts of NFC cryptocurrency wallets but nothing has really gained traction. There’s been a long wait for a cryptocurrency platform that delivers smooth and effortless cryptocurrency transactions combined with NFC technology, and BCH proponents hope this partnership delivers on its promises.
What do you think about Nchain acquiring a large stake in Handcash? Let us know in the comments below.
Images via Shutterstock, Nchain, and Handcash.
The post Nchain Acquires Majority Stake in BCH-Application Handcash appeared first on Bitcoin News.
Most US states have adopted some regulatory stance in regards to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and the blockchain technologies behind them, according to a report by the Brookings Institution. The study classifies jurisdictions according to their attitude towards digital currencies and the levels of engagement with the underlying technology.
Two Waves of Regulations in Four Years
State governments are at various stages of implementation of crypto and blockchain technologies. Some of them have not yet introduced regulatory regimes to take full advantage of them. Most, however, have shown interest in leveraging these technologies to stimulate local economies and improve public services. The authors have identified two waves of new crypto-related regulations in the last several years.
The first wave started in 2014, with more than 20 states adopting relevant legislation. At that first stage, authorities in at least 10 states, like California and New Mexico, issued warnings about investing in cryptocurrencies. The second one came in the last two years when a large group of states started exploring the potential implementation of blockchain technologies in the public and the private sector.
One of these states is Colorado, where a cautionary approach has led to the adoption of a bipartisan bill promoting the use of blockchain for government record keeping. Wyoming has been mentioned as a state seeking broader impact on the state economy. Recently, its legislature passed a bill exempting cryptocurrencies from property taxation, as news.Bitcoin.com reported. The state has been praised for becoming the most crypto-friendly jurisdiction in the country.
Two other states have taken steps to legalize bitcoin as a payment option for taxation purposes. Arizona has promised to become the first US state to start accepting taxes in cryptocurrency. Several bills recognizing cryptos as currencies have been making their way in the state legislature. Two of them regulate income tax payments with cryptos. Georgia may also provide its residents with the option to pay taxes in bitcoin. A draft that allows digital currency payments for tax obligations and licensure fees has been filed in the senate.
Many state legislatures have introduced regulations mostly clarifying matters related to the exchange of cryptocurrencies and the application of existing money transmission laws. Nevertheless, the majority of US states have taken at least some form of regulatory stance concerning cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology, as the researchers point out.
From “Unaware” to “Recognizing Innovation”
The report, titled “Blockchain and US State Governments: An Initial Assessment”, classifies US jurisdictions according to their attitude towards cryptocurrencies and the levels of engagement with the blockchain technology. The authors have divided states into several groups – Unaware, Reactionary, Appreciative, Organized, Actively Engaged, and Recognizing Innovation Potential.
The first group consists of states which have not taken any actions to adopt relevant regulations, such as Arkansas and South Dakota. The document notes, however, that in some of these “unaware” states there are substantial crypto-related activities within the private sector and the academia. States that have taken a negative stand against cryptocurrencies or have flagged them as potentially risky are considered “reactionary”. These include Indiana, Iowa, and Texas.
North Dakota is among the “appreciative” states, as its government has already initiated a legislative process but has not adopted any new bills yet. “Organized” states like Washington and New Hampshire have already passed new laws concerning the crypto ecosphere.
Seven states are included in a group called “Active Engagement”. According to the Brookings Institution, they have gone beyond cryptocurrencies and examined the governmental use of blockchain. The authors are talking about both isolated applications and integration across different government functions. A good example is Vermont where blockchain-stored data is recognized and accepted by the court system.
Several other states “envision a broader role for blockchain in their economies”. These are states like Delaware, hosting many Fortune 500 companies and numerous startups, and Illinois, which aims to utilize distributed ledger technologies to “redefine the relationship between government and citizens”. Arizona, where signatures, transactions, and contracts on a blockchain are legally valid, also falls in the category of states “recognizing the innovation potential” of crypto technology.
Do you agree that most US states will probably accept and regulate cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies before they are legalized on a federal level? Tells us in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Brookings.
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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban easily won a third consecutive term Sunday and his Fidesz party was poised to regain its super majority in parliament, according to preliminary results from the country’s election.