Biweekly global cryptocurrency regulatory round up (Apr 27 – May 11)

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Japan sees record crypto deposits, nearly 7 times more than last year

According to reports, the Japan Virtual and Crypto assets Exchange Association (JVCEA), an industry group that includes 29 domestic cryptocurrency exchanges and derivatives traders, disclosed that the nation’s virtual currency deposits hit a record high in March, soaring to 1.41 trillion yen, or about US$13 billion. The amount is nearly seven times that of last year’s crypto deposits for the same month.

Ripple CEO Calls US Crypto Rules ‘Frustrating’

Facing charges from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the CEO of Ripple fired back on Friday (April 30), saying that cryptocurrency regulations offer a “frustrating” lack of clarity. Brad Garlinghouse, whose company created the cryptocurrency XRP, made these comments in an interview with CNBC.

In December, the SEC charged Garlinghouse, a Ripple co-founder and the firm itself, saying they used an unregistered securities offering to raise more than $1.3 billion, essentially misleading investors. Ripple has countered that XRP is a medium of exchange, a virtual coin for domestic and international transactions, meaning the SEC doesn’t have the authority to treat it as a security, reported a crypto news site.

Vietnam Plans to Regulate Digital Currencies After Commissioning a Crypto Research Group

Vietnam is treading waters into the cryptocurrency industry, as the government recently commissioned a research group for the purpose. The Vietnamese Ministry of Finance is conducting an in-depth study of cryptocurrencies for regulation purposes.

According to ASEAN Briefing, the ministry seeks to gather enough data to clearly see how a regulatory process can be made in the country. The research comes in the wake of virtual currencies booming globally in terms of popularity, says the announcement.

Bank of Japan Identifies DeFi Pros & Cons, Mentions Uniswap, Yield Farming

According to reports, Bank of Japan (BoJ)-issued review has tackled the topic of decentralized finance (DeFi) – and has concluded that while certain “risks” are entailed with DeFi adoption, there could be some positive aspects to greater DeFi proliferation.

The review was published by the Bank of Japan’s Payment and Settlement Systems Department, which is in charge of payment policy development at the central bank. The review addressed issues such as yield farming, as well as the “emergence of autonomous financial services” and “the search for governance” in the DeFi sector.

UBS exploring ways to offer crypto investments to clients

According to reports, Swiss bank UBS is exploring ways to offer wealthy customers digital currency investments, Bloomberg reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

UBS is exploring several alternatives for offering the asset class, but any investment offering would be a very small portion of the clients’ total wealth because of the volatility, Bloomberg’s report said. It did not identify its sources. UBS could not immediately be reached for comment.

Turkey and crypto exchanges are also subject to AML / CFT regulations

The Turkish government is tightening regulations on crypto assets (virtual currency). Earlier this month, it was discovered that it added a cryptocurrency trading platform to its list of regulated companies for anti-money laundering (AML) and anti-terrorism financing (CFT).

According to an executive order issued on May 1, the rule will come into force immediately, making it easier for financial observers to investigate cryptocurrency holdings.

Turkey has just banned the use of cryptocurrencies to settle goods and services since April 30th. Immediately after the ban policy was announced, the chaotic situation continues, with Turkey’s fourth-largest exchange “Vebitcoin” suddenly shutting down, reported a crypto news outlet.

Iran Central Bank to Allow Money Changers, Banks to Pay for Imports Using Mined Crypto

Iran’s central bank is reportedly allowing the country’s financial institutions to use cryptocurrency, derived from sanctioned miners, to pay for imports.

According to a report by the Financial Tribune, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) has notified money changers and banks of its amended regulatory framework for crypto payments. The amendment means those institutions will now be able to pay for goods and services from other countries in a bid to circumvent U.S. economic sanctions. Some say the local crypto mining industry could generate as much as $2 million a day in revenue.

South Korea: Police Officers Prohibited From Purchasing Crypto

Last month the South Korean government announced launching crackdowns to reveal unregulated crypto firms in the country. The nation’s law execution agency has now stressed that non-compliance will attract penalties.  Domestic sources indicate that the operation to ban police officers from holding digital assets aims to introduce more transparency to KNPA departments. The move follows the announcement by the government to deal with illicit cryptocurrency activities, reported a crypto news site.

South Korea’s Upcoming Crypto Tax Law Inevitable, Says Finance Minister

According to Reuterson Tuesday, (April 27, 2021), Hong Nam-ki made the statement at a news conference when asked if the crypto tax law would be put on hold until the government had a better oversight over the cryptocurrency industry.

The government official also classified crypto as “intangible assets”, while stating that labeling crypto assets as currencies were a “misunderstanding”. Nam-ki further warned that cryptocurrency trading was liable to fraud and illegal fundraising, and asked investors to exercise caution on what they decide to invest.

How S. Korea and Singapore are grappling with crypto investor protection

According to reports, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Gary Gensler told the House Committee on Financial Services last week that the US$2 trillion cryptocurrency market could benefit from greater investor protection, including regulation for crypto exchanges. “That could instill great greater confidence,” Gensler said. “Right now there’s not a market regulator around these crypto exchanges and thus there’s really no protection around fraud or manipulation.”

Indonesia’s growing crypto market is a staging ground for illegal platforms

According to reports, the Financial Services Authority (OJK) Investment Alert Task Force recently blocked 86 peer-to-peer lenders that were operating without licenses, as well as 26 unauthorized investment businesses that include 11 platforms running Ponzi schemes and three cryptocurrency trading platforms—Lucky Best Coin, GBHub Chain, and Raja Coin.

Crypto.com Becomes the First Cryptocurrency Exchange to Announce Global Travel Rule AML Compliance Using CipherTrace Traveler

According to reports, crypto.com has become the first cryptocurrency exchange to announce the use of CipherTrace’s Traveler solution, the first commercial solution to enable compliance with global Anti-Money Laundering (AML) travel rule laws.

CipherTrace released Traveler in March in anticipation of increasing global enforcement of travel rule laws intended to prevent money laundering in cross-border cryptocurrency transactions. Traveler is designed to support virtual asset service providers (VASPs), including cryptocurrency exchanges, custody providers, OTC trading desks, banks and other financial institutions, to achieve compliance with the local transpositions of and the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) travel rule recommendation.

Mastercard Revealed as Partner on Gemini Crypto Credit Card

According to reports, Gemini, the cryptocurrency exchange and custodian founded by the Winklevoss brothers, has partnered with Mastercard to launch a crypto rewards credit card this summer.

The announcement reveals further details about Gemini’s upcoming credit card, which was first announced in January.This is not the first credit card to make crypto rewards available for crypto cardholders. Back in December, cryptocurrency lender BlockFi announced the launch of its rewards credit card in the first quarter of this year calling it the first of its kind in an industry that is already saturated with bitcoin reward debit cards.

New Thailand Crypto Regulations Force In-Person KYC

New crypto regulations in Thailand require that anyone who wants to open up an account must physically register, and cannot be done online.

The new regulations will come into place from September 2021. They were introduced by the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) to curb money laundering in the Southeast Asian nation. Those wishing to set up a new crypto account will be required to submit key documents in person to register, as well as scan their Thai identification card in what is being referred to as a “dip-chip” machine, reported a finance news site.

Thai Asset Management Firm Bets Big on DeFi and dApps

According to reports, Thailand-based asset management company Brooker Group (BROOK) is planning on being the first publicly listed company in the world to invest in decentralized finance (DeFi) tokens and decentralized applications (dApps).

Bangkok-based Brooker Group sees a massive opportunity in these burgeoning niches. Its initial plan is to invest $48 million but the firm is looking to eventually convert around 50 percent of its total holdings into dApps and DeFi assets.

China’s crypto miners make hard choices to meet climate goals

Once a popular crypto-mining hotspot in China, Inner Mongolia has issued a crypto-mining ban that will take effect tomorrow, leaving crypto miners just one more day to comply with the order to shut down their business or move all their mining rigs out of the province.

Inner Mongolia’s ban is just one of many actions supporting Beijing’s directive to suppress the country’s crypto-mining activities, which is regarded as a highly polluting but low-return industry in regions like Inner Mongolia, where the mining is run on coal-powered electricity. Inner Mongolia’s crypto-mining ban is being enacted to help China achieve its ambitious goals to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2060, reported a crypto news site.

China digital currency: could backing bitcoin as an investment help promote its sovereign digital currency?

Chinese officials have endorsed the use of cryptocurrencies as investments but not as mediums of exchange, due to fear of stoking financial instability. However, financial authorities appear eager to use cryptocurrency research and blockchain technology for development of the sovereign digital yuan, reported a local news site.

Ireland passes a strict law on all cryptocurrency companies

According to recent reports, the Republic of Ireland has enacted a strict law against cryptocurrency companies. According to a recent report, Ireland requires all virtual asset service providers (VASPs) to register with the country’s central bank. Also, all local digital asset companies must comply with the sixth anti-money laundering guidelines (6AMLD) set by the European Union (EU).

Coinbase Acquires Cryptocurrency Market Analysis Tool Skew

Coinbase has announced the acquisition of cryptocurrency market analytics firm skew, with hopes of adding features for institutional traders.

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has acquired skew, a U.K-based data analytics firm for cryptocurrency markets, allowing the exchange to provide real-time data analytics to the institutions and traders who leverage its platform

Thai Central Bank to Pilot Its Retail Central Bank Digital Currency in 2022: Report

The Bank of Thailand (BoT) will begin piloting its retail central bank digital currency (CBDC) in the second quarter of 2022, according to a published report.Thailand’s central bank assistant governor announced that, it is open to accepting public feedback on its retail CBDCs by 15 June this year.

BoT said the main objective of the currency is to provide citizens with access to more convenient and secure financial services. The bank is planning to fully implement the currency over the next 3-5 years, according to a Reuters report.

Dogecoin soars 16% as Elon Musk decrees himself ‘The Dogefather’ and hints that he will tout the joke cryptocurrency on SNL

Tesla ‘Technoking’ tweeted on wednesday touting his May 8 appearance on SNL and Musk called himself ‘The Dogefather’ in reference to joke cryptocurrency Dogecoin. So, Dogecoin soared again, as it has on his previous tweets and memes about it. Tesla is heavily invested in Bitcoin, revealing a $1 billion profit. It has led to questions about whether regulators should step in somehow, reported Dailymail UK.

US Bank Selects Cryptocurrency Custodian, Wins Admin Role for NYDIG’s Bitcoin ETF

South Korea Finance Minister Hong Nam-Ki has described the taxing of gains from crypto trading as “inevitable” and that there is a need to impose taxes on gains from trading of virtual assets”. The minister was asked whether the tax would be delayed until the government has improved its oversight of the industry, according to Reuters.

Crypto traders’ gains will be subject to 20% tax on profits over 2.5 million won (~$2,250). The tax was originally to be implemented in October 2021 but was pushed back to January 2022.

India’s ‘Crypto Relief’ Covid fund is all ready with nowhere to go

According to reports, India’s cryptocurrency and blockchain industry professionals have started a cryptocurrency fund that aims to help the country in its fight against the Covid pandemic. Within three days, the fund claims to have collected donations worth Rs 22 crore in cryptocurrencies, including 1 Bitcoin worth over Rs 40 lakh from Australian cricketer Brett Lee

WazirX adds 1 million users in April, eyes 10 million overall customers by June

India’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, WazirX, said it has added one million users during April and is eying to onboard 10 million customers on its platform by the end of the ongoing quarter.

The exchange had doubled its users from one million to two million between January and March 2021, reported a financial news outlet.

Former Indian Finance Secretary Calls for Crypto Regulations

India as a country has a complicated relationship with the cryptocurrency industry. At a point in time, there was a ban put in place that essentially meant that crypto-related businesses could not operate and have access to banking services. The result of this was that several firms shut down, or had to move their operations abroad. The ban was eventually lifted.

Now, India’s former finance secretary Subhash Chandra has come out to state that the government should not overlook cryptocurrency but should instead, work to better regulate the industry. This comes as positive news for the crypto industry in the nation as Garg previously chaired the drafting of the “Banning of Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2019”, reported a crypto news site.

Europe awaits implementation of regulatory framework for crypto assets

The global landscape of crypto-asset regulations is diverse and, even though it is getting more complex, many regulators are still choosing to wait and see how this space develops and what others will do. Right now, all eyes are on the European Union and its bespoke approach to regulating crypto assets.

As part of an expansive digital finance package announced in September 2020, the European Commission, or EC, issued a regulatory proposal titled Markets in Crypto-Assets, or MiCA. The proposal is now making its way through the legislative process and is subject to intense debates. This important regulatory step has been accelerated by concerns over the increasingly fragmented national regulatory landscape for crypto assets within the EU, reported a crypto news website.

Latin American Mercado Libre announces bitcoin acquisition

On Wednesday, May 5th, Mercado Libre, the Latin American e-commerce fintech company, said in a regulatory filing that it owns bitcoin (BTC) on its financial statements.

According to a press release announcing its first-quarter 2021 results, the company explained, “as part of our treasury strategy, this semester we acquired US$7.8 million in bitcoin, a cryptoasset that we are disclosing among our intangible assets to be held indefinitely.”

It is unclear when the acquisition occurred, although the financial results cover the first quarter, ending March 31st, 2021.

Colombia’s Crypto Use Soars, and Local Regulators Step In

Colombia is emerging as one of the fastest-growing crypto markets in the region, second only to Venezuela, according to Chainalysis’ 2020 global crypto adoption index. Colombia ranked ninth in the index, only three places behind the U.S. The same year, peer-to-peer crypto trading platform LocalBitcoins found Colombia to be its third-largest market globally by trading volume.

The government appears to be taking note. In addition to expanding its fintech regulatory testing environment, or sandbox, to include cryptocurrency startups in 2020, regulators have issued crypto tax guidelines as well as anti-money laundering (AML) regulations. They are now conducting a pilot that allows top local commercial banks to work with notable international crypto exchanges to test certain services, reported a crypto news site.

Economic Woes Fuelling Crypto Adoption in Argentina

The number of Argentinian crypto users has been on the rise in the last 12 months, as reported by AFP. More and more people in the country are flooding into the cryptocurrency sector, with the majority favouring Bitcoin. The economy in the region has been on a downward spiral, a factor that the report says has motivated citizens to adopt cryptocurrencies.

Maximiliano Hinz, the head of Binance in Latin America, reports that there has been a tenfold increase in active crypto trading accounts in the region.

According to a report published by AFP News, the country’s sovereign currency has been continuously losing value. The inflation rate over the last three years currently stands at 45%. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has also seen a similar course, dipping 9.9% last year.

 

 

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