BAR Biweekly global regulatory round up 13 June to 26 June

Regulation News

 Latin America

 Bitcoin Announced As Legal Tender in El Salvado

According to reports, on the 9th of June 2021, El Salvador announced that congress had voted in favour of president Nayib Bukele’s proposal to use Bitcoin as legal tender. Having previously used the US dollar as its national currency, 62 out of 84 votes were cast supporting the introduction of cryptocurrency as a viable tender too. Its use will begin 90 days after the announcement was made, with the Bitcoin-dollar exchange rate set by the market.

 Other News

 Coinbase To Enter Japanese Market With 5 Cryptos

 Coinbase, one of the largest crypto exchanges based in New York, has received approval from Japan’s main regulatory body, the Financial Services Agency (FSA). Under the new Fund Settlement Act, the FSA registered Coinbase as a cryptocurrency exchange.

Coinbase will now be able to offer five main cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, ether, stellar, litecoin, and bitcoin cash, as a result of the change. Once Coinbase’s registration is complete, more currencies are expected to be added, reported a crypto news site.

Concordium Becomes First Foreign Blockchain to Join Japan Blockchain Association

According to reports, Concordium AG is officially the first overseas blockchain to become a full member of the Japan Blockchain Association (JBA). The exciting news comes barely a week after the blockchain launched its mainnet.

Concordium will be joining over 120 other local and international members already part of the association. Group members include top global brands like Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Deloitte. In addition, some popular crypto-native enterprises like Kraken and bitFlyer are also port of the association. However, Concordium is the first non-Japanese blockchain to join the illustrious group.

Japan’s FSA Warns Binance Again For Operating Without a License

According to reports, Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) has issued another warning to crypto exchange Binance for operating in the country without proper authorization.

The most recent warning was issued and stated that Binance has continued to provide cryptocurrency services as an exchange without properly registering with the FSA. This is the second such warning for Binance and is similar to the warning the FSA handed to Bybit in May. While the previous warning for Binance happened back in 2018, it did warn that continued operation could bring criminal charges to those involved. Binance’s response was merely to move their headquarters from Japan to Malta. Meanwhile, Binance maintains that they do not currently undertake in exchange operations in Japan nor do they target Japanese citizens. Despite that claim, Binance’s Japanese website and new user registration area are accessible from IP addresses within the country.

The price that President Bukele is ready to pay to turn El Salvador into a bitcoin nation

Nayib Bukele, the president of El Salvador, is taking his public persona of a millennial disruptor to new heights and to a place where no one can predict the consequences. The Central American country is going to be the first in the world to adopt bitcoin as an official currency, a decision that has been announced in English and fast-tracked by a parliament that is controlled by his party, and without offering much explanation to citizens, reported a crypto news site.

Indonesian Central Bank Prohibits Cryptocurrency as Payment Tool

According to reports, Indonesia’s central bank, the Bank Indonesia, will prohibit the use of cryptocurrencies as a payment tool, according to Governor Perry Warjiyo. He made the announcement during a virtual seminar on June 15. He also said that crypto would not be allowed for “other financial services tools,” though it was not explicitly stated what these tools were.

Governor Warjiyo said that the assets were not recognized as a means of payment by the constitution or by central bank laws, and expected financial institutions to follow this policy accordingly. To that end, the central bank will mobilize teams to ensure that institutions comply with the ban.

Russian central bank ‘short-sighted’ regarding crypto, lawmaker says

A Russian State Duma member has blasted the central bank’s tough stance on the cryptocurrency industry for ignoring the growing demand for crypto in the country.

Fedot Tumusov, a member of the “A Just Russia” party representing the Siberian region of Yakutsk, has criticized the Bank of Russia’s approach to regulating the crypto industry following a plenary meeting of the State Duma, reported a crypto news site.

Mr. Chino of Kraken as Vice Chairman of Cryptocurrency Trading Association

According to reports, Japan Cryptocurrency Trading Association (JVCEA), a self-regulatory organization for crypto asset (virtual currency) exchange business and derivative trading business, will be the vice chairman of the association on the 25th. It was announced that Mr. Takeshi Chino, the representative of Ward Asia, has been appointe

Japan and Portugal approve cryptocurrency exchange

According to reports, Japan and Portugal have recently announced the approval of new cryptocurrency exchanges in their respective jurisdictions.Portugal approved two crypto exchanges so far while Japan has allowed the operation of the now Nasdaq-listed Coinbase within its territory.

As for the Asian nation’s case, after its Financial Services Agency gave the go signal for the conduct of its business there, Coinbase — which currently hosts bitcoin, ethereum, bitcoin cash, litecoin and steller luman for trading — brings its services to the Japanese people.

South Korea delists high-risk cryptocurrencies

Countries all over the world are doing their best to protect citizens from the downsides of cryptocurrencies and South Korea is leading the charge by taking regulations of the industry to another level. South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges such as Upbit have, this week, moved to delist or warn against specific digital assets they have judged to be “high-risk” for investors.

This new directive has been brought about by the increased level of regulatory requirements by financial regulators into cryptocurrency service providers’ operations. Last week, Korea’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), which is tasked with oversight of the cryptocurrency market, reportedly reached out to no fewer than 33 crypto trading platforms that operate in the country insisting that the regulator will be conducting field consultations before September 24th, 2021, reported a crypto news site.

South Korea seizes crypto assets in clampdown on ‘tax dodgers’

According to reports, a television host and a doctor are among thousands of wealthy South Koreans whose cryptocurrency holdings have been seized in a tax sting as a crackdown intensifies in one of the world’s most active markets for trading digital assets.

More than Won53bn ($47m) of bitcoin, ethereum and other crypto assets were confiscated from 12,000 people accused of tax evasion following a months-long probe, according to officials from the Gyeonggi provincial government, which oversees the greater Seoul area.

Governments worldwide have sought to take a more active role in regulating cryptocurrencies in response to a years-long boom in unregulated trading and mining. Bitcoin has experienced a roller-coaster ride this year, surging above $60,000 before plummeting to below $30,000 this month.

China Tests Digital Yuan In Wage Payments

Digital yuan is now in play in China’s Xiong’an New Area, a crypto news site reported. The district, located around 60 miles south of Beijing, has served as a testing ground for new economic ideas, according to the report. The digital yuan, a central bank digital currency (CBDC), will be used there to pay some workers.

The Xiong’an government said the digital yuan pilot is the country’s first “on-chain” payment used for builders’ wages, the report stated. The region will be using the Blockchain Fund Payment platform to pay wages. According to Xiong’an, per CoinDesk, the Shijiazhuang branch of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) and the reform and development bureau of Xiong’an’s management committee both helped in guiding and managing the project.

South Korea Mulls Singapore-style Approach to Crypto Regulation

 According to reports, the South Korean financial regulator is looking to Singapore for inspiration as it forms new crypto sector policies, sparking anticipation that it may look to adopt a similar system.

Singapore is known for having one of the most progressive approaches to crypto regulation in the world, and its crypto exchanges are policed by the central bank and chief financial regulator, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

A number of leading international exchanges are headquartered in Singapore, where the MAS began requiring anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) protocols for trading platforms in 2018. Exchanges are also obliged to apply for operating licenses, flag suspicious transactions and keep their own funds separate from those of their customers.

China’s cryptocurrency-mining crackdown spreads to Sichuan

China’s crackdown on cryptocurrency “mining” has extended to the southwest province of Sichuan, where authorities ordered cryptocurrency mining projects closed in the major mining centre.

Cryptomining is big business in China, accounting for more than half of global bitcoin production. But the State Council, China’s cabinet, last month vowed to clamp down on bitcoin mining and trading as part of a series of measures to control financial risks.

Other popular mining regions, such as Inner Mongolia, have cited cryptocurrency mining’s use of electricity generated from highly polluting sources such as coal in orders targeting the industry, reported a finance news website.

Trading platform Futu restricts crypto futures pricing information in mainland China

Online broker Futu Holdings (FUTU.O) said it has restricted services linked to CME cryptocurrency futures contracts in mainland China due to the regulatory environment, the latest result of an ongoing efforts to crackdown the sector.

China’s State Council, or cabinet, last month vowed to clamp down on bitcoin mining and trading, escalating a campaign against cryptocurrencies days after three industry bodies banned crypto-related financial and payment services, reported Reuters.

Dogecoin hits lowest level since early April as cryptocurrencies remain under pressure

Cryptocurrencies were broadly down with dogecoin (DOGE) plunging as much as 26% as China’s regulatory crackdown continues to take a toll.

The joke token was trading at $0.19 (£0.14), its lowest since April when it climbed to $0.7. It had earlier surged on support from Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk and after cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase announced it will begin accepting inbound transfers of the crypto, reported a crypto news site.

Thailand bans meme coins and NFTs as part of crypto crackdown

Thailand is the latest country to impose curbs on cryptocurrency trading. The southeast Asian nation’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has implemented a ban on meme coins like Dogecoin. Last week, exchanges were ordered to delist the coins, along with NFTs, utility tokens and social tokens, within 30 days, reported a crypto news site.

Singapore slips to 4th place in global fintech ranking but keeps top spot in Asia-Pacific

According to reports, Singapore has fallen one rung to fourth place in this year’s Global Fintech Rankings. And while it still takes the top spot among countries in the Asia-Pacific, the Republic faces stiff competition from countries like Australia, China and Japan, which have moved up the leaderboard this year.

The second annual index, produced by fintech analytics provider findexable in partnership with cloud banking platform Mambu, looks at over 80 countries, 264 cities, and over 11,000 fintechs. The index scores each location for the quantity and quality of privately-owned fintech companies, as well as the local business environment.

Malaysia and Thailand launch cross-border QR payment

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and the Bank of Thailand (BOT) recently launched a cross-border QR payment system between both countries.The project commenced in June 2020 and will be completed in three phases. The retail payment linkage will serve as an important enabler to support post-pandemic economic recovery by further strengthening economic ties between participating countries, reported a crypto news site.

India Is Reportedly Reviewing Proposed Bill to Ban Crypto

According to reports, the Indian government is reviewing parts of the previously drafted legislation to put a leash on the country’s booming cryptocurrency industry.The officials are reportedly discussing three key issues: whether to impose a blanket ban on cryptocurrency trading; whether authorities can regulate the sector, instead of a ban; and on the categorization of allowed and prohibited crypto activities.

Though the government did not announce anything officially, the officials are reportedly considering all recommendations clause by clause and discussing the matter with regulators and technical experts.

How Singapore and Cambodia see digital currencies for cross-border use

As interest in central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) continues to grow around the world, central bankers are increasingly shifting their focus from domestic applications to cross-border use of CBDCs

A survey of 50 central banks conducted in the first quarter of this year by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) found that 28% of the central banks were considering options to make CBDCs interoperable at a wholesale level by forming multi-CBDC arrangements, including integrating multiple CBDCs into a single payments system. Almost 14% of the central banks said they were considering an active role in foreign exchange conversion.

The G20 has made enhancing cross-border payments a priority and CBDCs present an opportunity for central banks to improve existing international payment arrangements, reported a crypto news site.

China digital currency: could Beijing’s advanced e-yuan replace smaller Asian currencies?

According to reports, financial authorities are weighing threats to monetary sovereignty as the race to launch a central bank digital currency (CBDC) heats up. The Bank of International Settlement says there is potential for a major CBDC, like the digital yuan, to replace smaller currencies

Italy’s Securities Regulator Chief Concerned About Lack of Crypto Regulations

According to Reuters on Monday (June 14, 2021), Paolo Savona, chairman of Consob, expressed his concerns during a presentation of the agency’s yearly report. Savona espoused the well-worn rhetoric that cryptocurrencies were used by criminals for illegal activities such as money laundering and terrorism.

The Consob head also stated that the widespread use of unregulated cryptocurrencies could make it difficult for central banks to carry out effective monetary policies. A statement from the Consob chairman reads: “Without proper oversight there could be a worsening in market transparency, the basis of legality and rational choice for (market) operators.”

The SEC effectively says ‘no,’ again, to Bitcoin ETFs with request for public comment, allowing Charles Schwab & Co. to keep its cover and steer clear of crypto for now

According to reports, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) effectively issued a blanket ‘no’ in a new filing by commencing a public comment period. The question is whether Bitcoin is as legit as ETF applicants proclaim. The federal regulator’s action came in response to a request by VanEck Associates Corp. that sought to get a Bitcoin ETF green-lighted for listing on the Cboe Global Markets. The irony is that ETF makers and Bitcoin enthusiasts alike were hoping SEC’s approval would legitimize the investment. Perhaps, the public comments can break the logjam.

Norwegian regulator warns against digital currencies, calls for regulation

According to reports, the Norwegian financial industry regulator is sounding the alarm on digital currencies. In its warning, the watchdog claimed that digital currencies pose a high risk of loss, have attracted significant criminal activity and the market is largely unregulated. It also distanced itself from some of the digital currency companies which claim they are regulated in Norway.

Could El Salvador’s bitcoin adoption trigger a domino effect in Latin America?

 El Salvador’s move is being hailed as a significant development in the cryptocurrency’s 12-year history. However, the Salvadoran decision elicited a cool response from Gerry Rice, spokesperson for the International Monetary Fund, who warned that “adoption of bitcoin as legal tender raises a number of macroeconomic, financial and legal issues that require very careful analysis.”

But the contagion is out, and bitcoin pioneer Max Keiser claims El Salvador has set a precedent that “challenges global banking institutions”, who cannot abide a technology that “separates money from state”, and the disruption this would have on global allegiances, reported a crypto news website.

Hong Kong’s e-dollar study in spotlight as city’s US dollar peg remains strong

According to reports, as the Hong Kong dollar continues to remain strong, attention is turning towards the potential for a digital version to be launched in the city.

In line with a strategic plan to promote Hong Kong’s fintech development, the city’s de facto central bank said last week that it had set up a working group to study the feasibility of an e-Hong Kong dollar. “The [Hong Kong Monetary Authority] will come to an initial view on the prospect for an e-Hong Kong dollar in the next 12 months,” Siddharth Tiwari, Asia-Pacific chief representative at the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), said at the South China Morning Post’s annual China Conference.

TN man loses more than Rs 1.7 lakh to fake crypto app advertised on Instagram

Zepbit claims to be a cryptocurrency trading app but is unavailable on Google Play Store or Apple Store, nor does it have a website or other online presence. Initially, Shiva invested Rs 5,000 and earned Rs 10,000 from the app. He was able to withdraw that amount from the app’s wallet and transfer it to his Google Pay account, which encouraged him to invest more, he said. Over the month of May, through multiple payments, Shiva invested Rs 1.7 lakh in Zepbit. According to him, he earned Rs 19 lakh as returns from Bitcoin trading. However, there was a catch. “I couldn’t withdraw the Rs 19 lakhs. The amount was stuck in the Zepbit wallet,” said Shiva. He alleged that he was asked to pay Rs 4 lakh by the Zepbit representatives to withdraw the amount.

Following this, Shiva filed a complaint against the app with the Coimbatore Cyber Crime Police on May 26. Several users of Zepbit app have taken to social media with complaints about losing money on the app and being unable to make withdrawals. Many have also called the app fake, reported a local news sit

Why China’s New Mining Censorship Will Affect More Than Just Crypto

The Chinese government isn’t entirely against cryptocurrency and crypto-adjacent tech, but rather seeks to nationalize them. China’s patent office filed more than 2,000 blockchain patents between 2014 and 2019, which is almost 10 times as much as the U.S. These patents are part of China’s move to establish a national digital currency, which has also included widespread restrictions.

In late May, the Chinese government announced it would crack down on crypto mining and trading activities. These actions follow a history of crypto restrictions, and they’re influencing the value of crypto. As they continue, they could start to shape more than just cryptocurrency, too, reported a crypto news site.

Chinese loan apps misuse KYC details of Indians to set up fake bank accounts

According to reports, there have been cases of people saying that their KYC details, which were shared with the Chinese loan apps, were used to open bank and crypto exchange accounts in their names, without consent.

China’s digital renminbi initiative is a network, not a currency

Publicly revealed by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) in 2019, China’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) project—the Digital Currency Electronic Payment, or DCEP—is an early-stage endeavour to rewire the global economic system using emerging financial technology. DCEP is a massive payment- and data-processing network. Over time, its CBDC, the e-CNY, is expected to completely replace physical cash.

So far, public policy debates on the future of DCEP have focused on its implications for internationalisation of China’s currency. Yet, the most consequential developments relate to how DCEP appears to be emerging as a leading financial technology. With the global expansion of China’s technology giants like Ant Group and Huawei, DCEP has the potential to transform the global financial system independently of external use of the RMB. Other countries seeking to launch their own CBDCs may adopt the DCEP stack rather than develop independent technologies, making China the world’s first exporter of central bank monetary technology optimised for surveillance down to the level of the individual user, reported a crypto news site.

China Regions Order Bitcoin Mining Shutdown

Regional authorities in China have begun cracking down on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining projects, as part of a nationwide ban.

The moves come after China last week announced a drive to build up its industry around the blockchain, a technology that underpins cryptocurrencies but has applications in a wide range of other fields, from finance to supply chain management.

Authorities in Qinghai, in China’s northwest, and the neighbouring Xinjiang area ordered mining projects to close, Reuters reported.

China-Owned Commercial Bank Allows Digital Yuan-To-Cash Conversions At ATMs

According to reports, the Chinese government-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and the Beijing branch of the Agricultural Bank of China are allowing customers to exchange digital renminbi and the cash version of the currency, the Xinhua Finance news service reported.

“ICBC’s more than 3,000 deposit and withdrawal all-in-one machines all over the capital have activated this function, becoming the first bank in Beijing to fully launch digital RMB cash exchange,” Xinhua Finance reported, according to a Google Translate version of the June 18 article. The article states that the Agricultural Bank’s 10 ATMs allowing the conversion between the two forms of the currency are in the Wangfujing shopping area of Beijing.

India’s Crypto Investors Could Face 2% Levy on Purchases From Overseas Exchanges

India’s tax department is looking into whether a 2% equalization levy applies to crypto assets, the Economic Times reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter. The levy – also known as the “Google tax” – imposes the charge on services provided in India by overseas e-commerce companies. Experts have speculated whether this could apply to crypto exchanges.

“The way the new equalization levy is worded and defined, it appears that it will also be applicable on cryptocurrency bought from an exchange not based in India,” Girish Vanvari, the founder of tax-advisory firm Transaction Square, told the ET. The levy would apply to the selling price and, therefore, exchanges may need to add it to the cost of the assets, he sai

IDFC First Bank joins ICICI Bank, Yes Bank and others in stopping services to crypto companies, despite RBI’s nudge to ignore its 2018 order

IDFC First Bank has temporarily halted services to crypto companies as it explores ‘enhanced due diligence.’IDFC First Bank isn’t the only one, as ICICI Bank, Yes Bank, and Paytm Payments Bank have taken similar decisions since May. Cryptocurrencies were banned by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in 2018, but India’s top court overturned the decision in 2020.

For banks, cryptocurrencies are a concern since they’re often a preferred instrument for money laundering, illegal purchases, and transactions relating to contraband, reported a crypto news site.

India lawmakers to review bill banning digital currency

India’s national government is reportedly reviewing the bill that would ban digital currency in the country, in what could spell a last minute change of direction to the laws around the local digital currency sector.

Working alongside sectoral regulators and other stakeholders, the government is considering whether or not a total ban should be brought into force, Bloomberg Quint reported. If not, the next matter under consideration is how digital currency might be regulated in the country, and which specific actions with digital currency should be encouraged or discouraged by the government

Cryptocurrency boom fails to stem losses at UK fintech firm Revolu

According to reports, losses at the British fintech firm Revolut nearly doubled last year, despite cashing in on the year-end cryptocurrency boom.

The company – founded by the former Lehman Brothers trader Nik Storonsky and chaired by the ex-Standard Life Aberdeen boss Martin Gilbert – said it made £39m on its cryptocurrency investments last year, while growing demand for its crypto trading services helped pushed revenues up 34% to £222m in the 12 months to 31 December.

Nearly all UK financial advisers shun crypto and ‘meme stocks’: Poll

According to reports, more than nine in ten independent financial advisers (IFAs) in Britain would never recommend cryptocurrencies or so-called meme stocks to their clients, an Opinium poll showed on Wednesday.

Meme stocks – companies whose value is fuelled by social media attention – and digital coins have soared in popularity as stay-at-home rules and high savings rates during the pandemic triggered a surge in stock investing by non-professionals.

UK Police seeking new laws to freeze cryptocurrency 

UK Police are seeking the Government to change the law and allow them to freeze cryptocurrency-related accounts. Police from Scotland say that account-freezing is not an option for cryptocurrency. So, police officers find it very difficult to put a stop to these fraudsters from money laundering, reported a crypto news site.

US House Republican becomes first national party to accept donations in cryptocurrency

The US’ National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), the United States House Republicans’ campaign arm said it will begin accepting donations in cryptocurrency.

The organization said it was the first national party committee to take contributions via cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, which it said would help it support Republican candidates in next year’s midterm elections, reported a finance news website.

Wall Street Asks If Bitcoin Can Ever Replace Fiat Currencies

El Salvador’s bold move to accept Bitcoin as legal tender has Wall Street once again wondering whether a cryptocurrency could really ever replace the old-school dollar. It’s a question that appeared, at least to some, to already be nearly answered after a handful of trailblazing companies — including Tesla Inc., MicroStrategy Inc. and Square Inc. — incorporated Bitcoin into their balance sheets, reported Bloomberg.

Palestine Monetary Authority mulls digital currency

According to reports, the Palestinian Monetary Authority is studying the possible issuance of a digital currency, a move that would allow it to strike at least a symbolic blow for monetary independence from Israel.

Under their 1990s accords with Israel, the Palestinians agreed not to immediately create their own currency, and their economy primarily uses the Israeli shekel, along with the Jordanian dinar and U.S. dollar.

US Crypto Giants Build First Version of FATF-Compliant ‘Travel Rule’ Tool

A group of the largest U.S. cryptocurrency exchanges and custodians have been tackling the challenges of bringing digital assets in line with anti-money laundering (AML) rules as they exist in traditional finance.

Now they say they have an answer.One hurdle is how to share customers’ personally identifiable information (PII) when regulated firms move cryptocurrency around, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF) provision known as the “Travel Rule.”The first version of a proposed solution to this problem has been built by a team of engineers from BitGo, Coinbase, Gemini, Kraken and Fidelity, all members of the U.S Travel Rule Working Group (USTRWG).

BitGo and Fidelity are also members of the Travel Rule Protocol (TRP), an institutional crypto group that also includes big banks like ING and Standard Chartered, reported a crypto news site.

Cuba’s Central Bank Suspends US Dollar Deposits Nationwide – Officials Cite Embargo ‘Obstacles’

According to reports, the Republic of Cuba is suspending the use of U.S. dollars due to embargo restrictions with U.S. and foreign banks. The central bank of Cuba’s restrictions stems from the “obstacles that the U.S. embargo creates for the national bank system.”

Malta Investigated for ‘Lax Oversight’ on Crypto Transactions

Malta has reportedly been singled out by the FATF for its lax oversight on cryptocurrency transactions, according to local media reports.

The Times of Malta reports that approximately €60 billion in cryptocurrencies have moved through Malta. The country is a haven for cryptocurrency enthusiasts and businesses, as it has introduced several favorable regulatory frameworks for economic growth.

Panama to Present Crypto-Related Bill in July

According to reports, following El Salvador, opposition politician Gabriel Silva says he is seeking consensus to make cryptocurrency legal tender in Panama.Next month, Panamanian congressman Gabriel Silva plans to present a bill that could potentially spearhead the adoption of cryptocurrencies as legal tender and create tax incentives for crypto-related businesses.

After El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele, announced he was proposing a law to make bitcoin (BTC, -7.76%) legal tender, Silva tweeted on June 7 that if Panama wanted to become a true hub of technology and entrepreneurship, it should also support cryptocurrencies.

 

 

 

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