Global regulatory round-up (February 10 – February 25)

Global regulatory round-up (February 10 to February 25)

Thailand’s tourism sector to target Japanese crypto-holders

Thailand will now target cryptocurrency holders as part of its efforts to boost tourism in a post-pandemic economy, according to an article by the Bangkok Post. The report in question claimed that The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is intending to establish Thailand as the first country to welcome cryptocurrency holders by targeting Japanese tourists in its initial phase, reported a crypto news site.

Kyrgyzstan Central Bank Plans to License Crypto Exchanges

According to reports, the National Bank of Kyrgyzstan (NBKR) is planning to license the cryptocurrency exchanges operating in the country as public interest in digital currencies are growing with the rising Bitcoin prices, according to a Tazabek report.

Tolkunbek Abdygulov, Chairman of the NBKR, revealed the intentions of the regulator in regulating the exchanges. “The purpose of the NBKR is to create conditions for clients, for citizens of the Kyrgyz Republic,” Abdygulov said (translated from Russian). “We plan to grant a license to cryptocurrency exchange operators to buy and sell cryptocurrency. There must be a guarantee.” Further, he explained that the licensing regime would eliminate the fraudulent risk on the part of the crypto exchanges.

Sweden cautions investment firms against selling Bitcoin ETF to average consumers

Sweden’s financial watchdog has told investment firms and banks to think twice before selling exchange-traded crypto-tracking products to average consumers.

The Financial Supervisory Authority in Stockholm said it will take action against companies that sell the risky, complex instruments to retail investors who don’t understand what they’re getting into, according to a statement.

Mastercard Launches Prepaid Card for World’s First CBDC in Bahamas

People in the Bahamas now have the option of loading the country’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) onto a prepaid Mastercard to enable use anywhere in the world, the payments giant has announced.

The Bahamas Sand Dollar, the world’s first CBDC, can now be converted into traditional Bahamian dollars using a prepaid Mastercard, enabling users to pay for goods and services wherever Mastercard is accepted worldwide.

CoinShares Launches Ethereum-Backed ETP to Satisfy Investors’ Crypto Demand

Another Crypto Investment Product from CoinShares. According to the announcement, the new product, known as the CoinShares Physical Ethereum (ETHE), will launch with about $75 million in assets under management. The investment firm added that each unit of the product would be backed with 0.03 ETH at launch.

ETHE will launch initially on the SIX Swiss Exchange with a base fee of 1.25 percent. As CoinShares explained, the price will establish its product as an attractive option for institutions looking to improve their Ether exposure while paying low management fees.

Bank of Korea governor sees no intrinsic value in Bitcoin ahead of 20% gains tax in 2022

According to reports, the head of the Bank of Korea (BOK) said that “there is no intrinsic value in crypto-assets” in a session with lawmakers. The lack of clear value in a Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies paves the way to greater volatility in the digital asset class.

“It is very difficult to predict the price, but its price will be extremely volatile, BoK Governor Lee Ju-yeol told lawmakers when asked by about whether a recent surge in the price of Bitcoin is temporary.

Dubai Free Zone Becomes First UAE Government Entity to Accept Bitcoin

Cryptocurrencies are now accepted as a form of payment at the KIKLABB free trade zone in Mina Rashid, Dubai.

With the news, KIKLABB has become the first United Arab Emirates government-owned entity to accept crypto payments, according to a Gulf News report

In Singapore, bitcoin is challenging gold as a store of value

According to reports, Bank of Singapore chief economist Mansoor Mohi-uddin argued in a recent research note that it would be “very unlikely” for bitcoin to replace fiat currencies as a modern-day medium of exchange, as — like gold — bitcoin is “too inefficient to make cross-border payments.” However, Mohi-uddin points out that the most likely role for bitcoin is as an alternative store of value and that it could compete against gold as a safe-haven asset.

Tesla Tapped Coinbase for $1.5B Bitcoin Buy: Report

Coinbase’s institutional trading wing handled electric car-maker Tesla’s $1.5 billion bitcoin investment earlier this month, according to a crypto news site. The report illustrates Coinbase’s growing role as corporate America marches deeper into crypto. Coinbase handled MicroStrategy’s early allocations

Major Asian banks unite to form ‘multiple’ CBDC pact on blockchain

Several major banks across Asia have joined forces to construct a cross-border central bank digital currency, according to a joint announcement issued on Feb. 23.

Dubbed the Multiple Central Bank Digital Currency Bridge, or m-CBDC, the project sees the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the Bank of Thailand, the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates and the Digital Currency Institute of the People’s Bank of China combine to create a CBDC prototype using distributed ledger technology.

Hong Kong Retail Investors Will Not Be Allowed To Trade Cryptocurrencies

According to reports, the Hong Kong government has introduced a legislative proposal to ban retail investors from trading crypto and it requires all the virtual assets trading platforms to get licenses for operating in the territory.

Hong Kong’s Financial Services and Treasury Bureau introduced a legislative proposal last year in November and it has now completed a three-month consultation with the industry and members of the public. This proposal is expected to turn into a bill and become law later this year.

As per the proposed law, all the virtual assets services providers — including crypto exchanges, custody services providers, and virtual assets financing services should apply for a license from the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC). It also requires all the virtual assets service providers who wish to apply for an SFC license should serve “professional investors only.”

Central Bank Digital Currencies Not a ‘Fad,’ MetLife Investment Says

Institutional investor MetLife Investment Management (MIM) has released a new macro strategy primer outlining the forthcoming role of blockchain-based assets, particularly central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). The investments giant also notes that a “true CBDC launch among Western countries seems unlikely to occur anytime soon” as key technical questions have yet to be addressed, reported a news portal.

Google Pay and Samsung Pay will soon let you pay with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies

You’ll soon be able to make payments using your cryptocurrency funds via Google Pay and Samsung Pay, according to a recent announcement from cryptocurrency payments provider BitPay. Just a few days ago, the company announced Apple Pay support for its BitPay Card, allowing users to make payments using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on the platform. It now plans to bring similar functionality to Google Pay and Samsung Pay.

Tencent and Ant-backed banks are said to pilot China’s digital yuan

Two more commercial banks, this time backed by fintech giants Tencent and Ant Group, are said to trial China’s digital yuan.

Bloomberg reported the news citing people familiar with the matter. Tencent-backed WeBank and Ant-backed MYbank will reportedly offer the same features as China’s state-owned commercial banks that piloted digital yuan.

First Bitcoin ETF in North America is launching in Canada today

According to reports, the first exchange-traded fund tracking Bitcoin in North America begins trading in Toronto in a potential milestone moment for both the cryptocurrency and ETF industries.

The Purpose Bitcoin ETF (ticker BTCC) provides exposure to the world’s largest cryptocurrency by investing directly in “physical/digital Bitcoin,” issuer Purpose Investments Inc. said in a statement. The fund will be available both in Canadian dollar and U.S. dollar units.

Libra Renamed Diem Is Getting Back on Track in 2021

On Dec. 1, 2020, the Libra Association carried out rebranding and changed its name to the Diem Association. Many believe that this way, the project aims to distance itself from initial modelling of Facebook’s payment system.

This move should emphasize an updated and simplified structure of the platform as well as denote its “organizational independence.” The new name comes from a Latin word “day,” which is used in a famous saying “carpe diem” meaning “seize the moment.” Thus, the Diem effort apparently symbolizes a fresh chance to save the initiative from regulatory pressure, reported a crypto news website.

RBI Will Issue Guidelines And Policy Paper On Digital Currency Soon

According to reports, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will soon publish a policy paper detailing its Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) or ‘Digital Rupee’ ambitions, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said during a virtual address on the 185th Foundation Day Celebration of the Bombay Chamber of Commerce. “We do not want to be left behind in this technology revolution that is taking place,” he said.

South Korean Financial Authorities to keep a watch on crypto exchanges

South Korean Financial Regulators request the trading platforms to report any suspicious activity. Authorities of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) asked crypto exchanges to obtain a license to work. Regulators have also asked the exchanges to delist the privacy coins, reported a crypto news outlet.

Crypto Exchanges Warn against Hong Kong’s Retail Trading Ban

Global Digital Finance, an advocacy group of cryptocurrency exchanges, has warned against Hong Kong’s proposed ban on retail traders that might drive them towards unregulated platforms, according to the South China Morning Post.

BitWise claims world-first with DeFi fund launch

According to reports, a US fund manager specialising in crypto assets has launched what it claims is the world’s first fund to focus on decentralised finance (DeFi).Bitwise Asset Management already runs the $800 million BitWise 10 Crypto Index Fund and is now targetting the world of peer-to-peer digital lending, otherwise known as DeFi.The BitWise DeFi Crypto Index fund, which is available to accredited investors via private placement, holds a portfolio of cryptoassets used in DeFi offerings and will track an index developed by BitWise.

Experts urge central bank of Nigeria to regulate cryptocurrency

Experts across various industries have advised the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to regulate but not ban cryptocurrency because of the benefits it offers to innovative youths.

President, Stakeholders in Blockchain Association of Nigeria (SiBAN), Senator Ihenyan, said the group had made efforts since 2017 to engage the CBN to regulate the cryptocurrency market in the country but to no avail.

According to him, regulation is the approach most developed countries have taken which has some come up with a robust regulatory framework. The United States currency regulator recently allowed banks to trade in stablecoins, reported a crypto news website.

South Korean Financial Regulator Confirms Privacy Coin Delistings- Adds New Guidelines to Report Unusual Transactions

According to reports, South Korean financial watchdogs are about to start overseeing crypto-related activities in the nation, and additional barriers for exchanges keep appearing. Moreover, one of the South Korean regulatory bodies codified the measures announced last year on privacy coin listings.

Thailand Unveils New Registration Rules for Crypto Asset Managers

Thai Securities and Exchange Commission today issued a number of announcements that would potentially have a regulatory impact on digital asset portfolios managers. Effective from February 24, crypto fund managers and investment advisers are required to apply for a licence to continue their businesses, according to a report in the Bangkok Post.

U.K Broker I.G. Group Stops Retail Crypto Derivative Trading After FCA Ban

UK-Based Broker I.G. Group (IGG) has informed retail traders to close their derivative positions on cryptocurrencies on its platform. This development is after the U.K. regulatory body FCA banned the sale of crypto derivatives and exchange-traded notes on January 6. IGG revealed this development in a post from an administrator on IGG’s online forum.

The statement stated that the firm had reached its internal product limit for exposure to cryptocurrencies and removed them from its offerings. This includes open spread bet and contract for difference (CFD) positions on cryptocurrencies, reported a crypto news site.

PayPal will soon add cryptocurrency support to VENMO wallets

By adding cryptocurrency support to VENMO wallets, PayPal soon plans to expand their crypto services in the UK. The update will include buying, selling, and other features added to VENMO in some international markets. As of now, only the US residents have support for trading cryptocurrency on PayPal, and now the UK might come in second. I even think that the updates are just a few months away and not even the end of the year, reported a crypto news site.

ECB wants final say on the legal status of private stablecoins in the EU

The European Central Bank has finally sent its formal opinion on crypto regulations to the European Commission.

According to reports, the ECB has asked EU lawmakers for veto powers concerning private stablecoin projects like the Facebook-backed Diem. An excerpt from the ECB opinion document reads:

“Where an asset-reference arrangement is tantamount to a payment system or scheme, the assessment of the potential threat to the conduct of monetary policy, and to the smooth operation of payment systems, should fall within the exclusive competence of the ECB.”

French regulator wants the European Union to change the way it oversees crypto.

The top French financial markets regulator wants the European Union to change how it oversees the digital currency and blockchain industry. It proposed a unified approach in the region, with one body in charge of formulating regulations for the rapidly growing industry. In a recent speech, the Autorité des Marchés Financiers Robert Ophèle’s chair spoke on fintech and regulation, touching on the need to regulate cryptocurrencies and its underlying technology blockchain, reported a crypto news site.

European Central Bank (ECB) Demands Power to Shut Down Private Stablecoins, Like Diem, in the EU

According to reports, the European Central Bank finally tables its official opinion regarding crypto regulations to the top decision-making again, European Commission.

In their official opinion, the ECB now wants the EU members of parliament to grant its veto powers regarding the legal status of stablecoins such as Facebook-supported-Diem. The ECB raised its concerns regarding the use of stablecoins that get their value from being pegged on one or many global currencies. The central bank is worried that stablecoins could jeopardize its control on payments, banking, and cash supply.

Italy’s Consob Consults on Regulation of Securities Token Offerings

Italy’s securities regulator today said it held a webinar with “some major players” in the financial market to probe the regulation of securities token offerings. Not many details were revealed about the matter, but Consob is actively working on regulations that might one day permit so-called tokenization, which allows a crypto token to represent a traditional asset like stocks.

For STO operators, the framework will entail proper regulation that covers key risks including AML and counter-terrorist financing, investor protection, governance and safe custody, reported a crypto news site.

Austrian Regulator Reports Rise in Crypto Fraud

Austria’s Financial Market Authority (FMA) said Friday there has been an increase in crime using cryptocurrencies and stricter regulation is needed. The FMA reports two-thirds of the investment fraud reports filed in 2020 were related to cryptocurrency and digital currency trading products, according to a Bloomberg report.

Piemonte Holding launches blockchain asset trading platform

The global financial group Piemonte Holding announced  the launch of an asset-trading platform entirely based on blockchain technology, the first of its kind in Brazil and Latin America. The tool will allow Piemonte’s private investors to trade about R$ 150 million in debentures and investment fund units entirely via the Ethereum blockchain technology, using the secondary market platform created by Piemonte.

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