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Three Russian companies and 13 Russian citizens were indicted on charges of engaging in a widespread effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, providing the most comprehensive official account to date of a sweeping, multimillion-dollar effort by Russians to upend U.S. politics.
WSJ.com: What’s News Asia
U.S. states with positive attitudes have advanced towards bitcoin legalization – a process that a growing number of elected officials consider inevitable, if not desirable. Numerous crypto-friendly bills have been introduced, and some of them have received approval in committees and houses of state legislatures. One wouldn’t necessarily think of states like Arizona, Tennessee, and Wyoming as the backbone of a great nation’s economy. How about… pioneers of its future development?
Bitcoin Doesn’t Stink – Arizona Will Take It
For some time now legislators in the Grand Canyon State have been thinking how to facilitate residents receiving incomes and profits in cryptocurrency. If bitcoin is good for ordinary citizens and businesses, it should be good enough for the state coffers, local lawmakers have decided. Last week Arizona got closer to accepting cryptos as legal tender for taxation purposes.
Several bills recognizing coins as currencies have been making their way in the State Legislature, as news.bitcoin.com reported. Two of them, SB1091 and SB1145, were aimed at regulating tax payments with digital currency. The SB1091 draft, sponsored by four Republican lawmakers, was endorsed by the Senate on February 8, with a 16 – 13 vote, after passing the Finance Committee in January. If the bill is adopted by the House, Arizona will become the first U.S. state to accept taxes in cryptocurrency in just a couple of years. The new law states:
A taxpayer may pay their income tax liability using a payment gateway, such as bitcoin, litecoin or any other recognized cryptocurrency, using electronic peer-to-peer systems.
It then clarifies that the Department of Revenue “shall convert cryptocurrency payments to United States Dollars at the prevailing rate after receipt and shall credit the taxpayer’s account with the converted dollar amount actually received, less any fees or costs incurred for conversion”. A similar bill was voted down in New Hampshire two years ago with concerns that the state would have to bear responsibility for converting the cryptos on volatile markets. Its sponsor, NH State Representative Eric Schleien (R), explained that there would be no cost and no risk to the state, as conversion would be automatic.
Another draft law, HB2601, is expected to regulate crowdfunding through initial coin offerings in Arizona. Its first reading in the House of Representatives is scheduled for June 2, 2018, and the second reading should take place on July 2. It is sponsored by Representative Jeff Weninger (R) who is also among the authors of the tax amendments. Recently, he told Fox that state legislators want to “send a signal to everyone in the United States that Arizona is going to be the place to be for digital currency technology”.
Others Have Taken the Same Road
Tennessee is another state that may soon legalize cryptocurrencies and crypto payments. A proposal to do that has come with a bill that would officially recognize cryptocurrency financial transactions and smart contracts in the state. It would also protect ownership rights of information secured on blockchain networks.
We are not just competing with other states in this space, we are competing with the whole world.
That’s what Tennessee House Representative Jason Powell (D) said after a presentation on blockchain technology last month. The Nashville lawmaker also called for adopting a “meaningful legislation” in the Volunteer State, as reported by The Tennessean. “It is really important to say that Tennessee is supportive of this technology and we want to be a leader in this innovation”, Powell added. Local authorities have already indicated that money transmitter licenses will not be required to trade cryptocurrencies in the state.
Wyoming may also become a crypto-friendly jurisdiction and is already taking steps to improve its attractiveness for startups from the sector. Several drafts have been introduced in the state legislature. Respective committees have passed two of them and they are now ready for the House of Representatives.
According to bill 0070, “a person who develops, sells or facilitates the exchange of an open blockchain token is not subject to specified securities laws”, if the token can be exchanged for goods and services. The legislation exempts exchanges from regulations applicable to brokers and dealers. Exemptions for cryptocurrency traders and transactions are also included in a draft to amend the Money Transmitter Act (0019).
Kansas and New Hampshire are two other states that have passed legislation with crypto-related exempts in their money transmitter regulations. In Texas companies are not licensed when offering custodial exchange services to in-state customers, and Montana has no applicable money transmission laws. Authorities in Nevada have promised to create favorable conditions for startups working with blockchain technologies. Most other states have yet to adopt their regulatory frameworks.
Do you think that positive moves towards legalization in individual states will speed up adoption of cryptocurrencies on federal level in the U.S.? Tell us in the comments section below.
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Travel experts cite a slew of reasons why the number of foreign visitors to the U.S. has been on the decline over the past two years.
But the opposite is happening when it comes to Americans venturing abroad.
In the first 11 months of 2017, the number of U.S. vacationers traveling abroad jumped…
Cisco Systems plans to bring $ 67 billion of its foreign cash holdings to the U.S. this quarter following recent changes to U.S. tax law, in one of the largest repatriation plans yet revealed.
WSJ.com: US Business
An increasing number of Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency traders are reportedly turning to U.S.-based bitcoin futures. The shift away from domestic markets has been spurred by a perception that the American futures markets receive greater regulatory oversight than Hong Kong’s unregulated cryptocurrency exchanges.
Demand for Exposure to U.S. Bitcoin Futures Markets Surges Among Hong Kong Traders
The chairman of the Hong Kong Stockbrokers Association, Gary Cheung, told South China Morning Post that local futures brokers have reported an increase in trading activity on the American futures markets.
Mr. Cheung described the types of cryptocurrency typical traders seeking to access bitcoin futures markets, stating “There are two types of Hong Kong investors who like to trade US bitcoin futures. There are bitcoin miners and other investors who trade bitcoin and want to use the futures products to hedge. The others are normal futures investors who purely want to take profit created by speculative futures trading.”
Gary Leung, the chief executive officer of TD Ameritrade, also attested to the high demand for exposure to U.S-based bitcoin futures markets among Hong Kong-based customers, stating “We have received a lot of inquiries about bitcoin futures since we started operating in Hong Kong last October when the prices were surging.”
Lack of Regulatory Oversight Deters Investors From Local Exchanges
Due to bitcoin’s juridical status comprising that of a commodity, cryptocurrency exchanges are not regulated by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority – prompting many traders to explore international platforms that are seen to offer greater regulatory oversight than local exchanges.
Benny Mau of China Securities International Finance Holdings outlined the concerns held by many Hong Kong-based traders, stating “Bitcoin and other digital currencies are basically not regulated in Hong Kong because they are traded like commodities. If the digital currency platforms have a problem or are hacked, the investors may suffer losses because the regulators might not do anything for them. This has discouraged many Hong Kong investors from trading digital currencies in Hong Kong.”
“Instead, they’re trading them on the US exchanges, which are regulated. The futures prices may go up and down substantially but investors do not need to think about the counterparty risk or worry about the platforms having a problem. This is why bitcoin futures in the US are more attractive to Hong Kong investors, Mr. Mau added.”
Shifting Market Conditions
Jasper Lo Cho-yan, a senior vice-president at Haitong International, has suggested that shifting market conditions may also be contributing to the perceived migration of Hong Kong traders away from local cryptocurrency exchanges.
“When bitcoin futures were launched last December, the bitcoin price was rising and everyone was optimistic. Now the price has tumbled and speculators may be finding it harder to make money. In addition, many governments are increasing regulation of bitcoin and other digital currencies. This has raised questions about the outlook for the futures products,” Jasper Lo Cho-yan said.
What is your response to the increasing demand for regulated bitcoin futures products among Hong Kong traders? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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The post Hong Kong Crypto Traders Turn to U.S. Futures Markets appeared first on Bitcoin News.
The U.S. views recent talks between the two Koreas in a positive light and has indicated through multiple channels that it could seek talks with the North, another signal that Washington may be considering changes to its policy of talking to Pyongyang only if the North commits to denuclearization.
WSJ.com: What’s News Asia
Multiple concerned U.S. corporate customers of Bitfinex have posted on Reddit after discovering that they were unable to access the exchange’s margin trading services. Although Bitfinex has previously indicated that it would no longer allow U.S individuals to access the exchange’s services, Bitfinex’s support portal currently states that the restrictions do not affect U.S. corporate customers.
Bitfinex Restricts U.S. Corporate Account Holders From Accessing Margin Markets
In recent days, several Redditors claiming to be U.S.-based corporate customers of Bitfinex have complained that they have suddenly found themselves unable to access the exchange’s margin services.
Last year, Bitfinex announced that it would terminate its services to U.S. retail customers in November. However, the company assured corporate customers that “the restriction affects individuals accounts only” – as currently stated by the FAQ section of Bitfinex’s support portal.
Margin Traders Left Unable to Close Positions
One Redditor posted “We’ve had a corporate account with Bitfinex since early 2017 and [are] approved for both exchange, margin, and funding. […] We’ve been making 6-figure trades on margin and currently have 2 margin positions open. On Feb 7th, […] we were locked out of margin trading. No explanation or warning of why our account can’t trade on margin. Worst yet, we can’t manage our margin positions. Not good in this very volatile market. We’ve received a couple of liquidation warning emails as the market dived down yesterday. We sent a support ticket […] and probably over 7 emails. No response from Bitfinex. It appears that they haven’t even opened any of the emails.”
Later that day, a Bitfinex representative called “bill_bfx” contacted the Redditor, stating that the issue had been “forwarded to the team to resolve for you.” Bill_bfx stated that “a US corporate customer […] should not be using margin trading,” however, noted that “if you have open positions it is not acceptable to block you from closing them.”
The Redditor acknowledged the response and stated he would update the thread if his issue was resolved. As of this writing, no indication has been made that the situation has been resolved, despite bill_bfx responding to the Redditor four days ago.
Corporate Customers Seemingly Caught Unaware
Another Redditor posted “I’ve been lending on Bitfinex for a while. Earlier today, the API responded that US users are no longer allowed to take or lend any currency denomination […] I understand that US retail customers cannot use it but I believe the policy did not apply to corporate customers. Has there been a recent change in policy? Will it be permanent or is this a temporary measure?”
As of this writing, the second Redditor has not received a response from Bitfinex, despite directly questioning bill_bfx about the matter on a different thread. Though Bill_bfx did not respond to the Redditor’s query, however, a day later, Bill_bfx did find time to post a sarcastic response to a trollish comment on the same thread.
Do you think that more exchanges will move to restrict access from U.S. customers? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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Healthcare companies led stocks broadly lower in Tuesday’s early trading on Wall Street as the market gave back some of its big gain from the day before.
Drug distributor companies were especially hard hit in the early going after the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon was seeking to expand…
Privately held drug company Purdue Pharma said it would stop promoting the drug to doctors and cut its U.S. sales staff as it faces growing legal scrutiny amid an opioid-addiction crisis.
WSJ.com: US Business
This week Colorado House Representative Jared Polis sent a letter to the U.S. House Committee on Ethics asking the organization to propose statutes that require government employees to declare their bitcoin and digital currency holdings.
House Representative Jared Polis: ‘Government Employees Should Report Any Virtual Currency Holdings’
U.S. bureaucrats are ramping up efforts to try and regulate the decentralized currency bitcoin and the slew of other cryptocurrencies that exist. On February 5, the House Representative Jared Polis who is known as “bitcoin-friendly,” submitted a request that urges the House Committee on Ethics (HCE) to provide guidance on how politicians can disclose their digital asset holdings. Polis states that in a lot of U.S. territories digital assets are defined as securities or commodities, and U.S. politicians are already required to declare traditional assets. Polis says it is “critical” that the HCE provide this type of guidance to government employees.
“Members of Congress and covered employees are already required to report certain asset holdings over certain amounts, including reporting any commodities holding over $ 1,000,” Polis argues in his petition to the HCE.
A Member or covered employee should report any virtual currency holding as they would report any other commodity, such as gold.
Financial Disclosures Are Critical to Maintaining Public Trust
Polis says that it is clear existing statutes that require asset disclosure can easily cover virtual currencies. The Coloradan representative also remarks that the ethics committee should look towards the guidelines already drafted by government agencies such as the IRS, SEC, and CFTC. In addition to commodities like gold, the U.S. Stock Act requires politicians to disclose real-time purchases and sales of stocks acquired. Anything that exceeds over $ 1,000 whether it be a stock or a commodity must be declared to the public, and Polis says cryptocurrencies are no different. Polis writes in his HCE petition:
Financial disclosures are critical to maintaining public trust in elected officials and the integrity of congress — I look forward to working with the committee on this issue.
The House representative concludes that the increasing use of cryptocurrency as an alternative to traditional payments and investments necessitates congress to take the appropriate actions. Polis believes a set of virtual currency disclosure guidelines will help “maintain transparency and deter potential conflicts of interest.”
What do you think about politicians being required to disclose their bitcoin and digital asset holdings? Let us know what you think about this story in the comments below.
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