On October 12, Finance Magnates reported that payment giants Mastercard and VISA will both soon group cryptocurrency and Initial Coin Offering (ICO) jurisdictions in a new “high risk” category.

What are the consequences for those ‘high risk’ merchants?

According to the publication’s undisclosed sources, the ban will be applied to brokers who operate “from unregulated or loosely regulated environments,” and therefore have no license that would show that proper due diligence has been applied to their business. The action reportedly deals with forex, binary, cryptos, and ICOs.

More specifically, the alleged move seems to target non-EU countries “in the Balkans, former Soviet Republics, and the Far East,” as Finance Magnates argues, while “EU-regulated brokers are suffering due to significant changes to their operations, stemming from the new regulatory framework.” Apparently, the publication referred to the regulations introduced by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) in June, when the regulator rolled out leverage limits for local retail brokers within the EU. The restrictions targeted cryptocurrencies, among others, as Steven Maijoor, the ESMA Chair, declared:

“The new measures on CFDs will, for the first time, ensure that investors cannot lose more money than they put in, restrict the use of leverage and incentives, and provide understandable risk warnings for investors.”

Thus, non-regulated brokers would reportedly be classified as “high-risk securities merchants” by VISA and Mastercard, brining similar limitations outside of the EU. Consequently, such transactions would be labeled with code 6211, meaning that chargebacks made by clients on those transactions can still be executed for up to 540 days.

Some of the limitations have reportedly come into force, but remain unconfirmed

Allegedly, Finance Magnates’ sources stated that the new classification by Mastercard had started on October 15, while VISA was planning to implement a similar grouping in December of this year. Neither Mastercard nor VISA have commented on the matter as of press time.

Moreover, the publication stated (without providing any specific examples) that “some” associated businesses had already reported to their customers that they will stop accepting credit cards, meaning that the clients of brokers that operate poorly regulated businesses will have to rely entirely on alternative payment options, like wire bank transfers.

There is no information that would confirm the authenticity of the Finance Magnates’ report, which is written rather loosely — there is no evidence to back up most of the claims made throughout the article. Cointelegraph has reached out to Mastercard representatives for further comment, but have yet to receive an answer.

There were similar (also unconfirmed) reports in May

Previously, in May, Finance Magnates reported similar news, announcing that Mastercard was going to single out binary options, CFDs, forex, cryptocurrencies, and ICOs as “high risk” businesses in a “well-coordinated campaign” that involved “several regulators and government agencies.” The write-up quoted a letter allegedly written by a “partner bank” (without mentioning its name), stating the following: “If the merchant is unable to obtain an updated license, we will cease processing applicable high-risk securities transactions from such merchant until provided with an updated license.”

At the time, Finance Magnates wrote that Mastercard’s regulation was “effective from the 12th of Oct. 2018, which is 6 months since the payment processors have received the letter,” with the changes affecting “all transactions globally via Mastercard, Debit Mastercard, and Maestro.” Starting then, every payment processor processing the transactions of a high-risk securities merchant are supposed to show to Mastercard that adequate due diligence has been applied. There have been no official statement from Mastercard confirming or refuting this news.

Both VISA and Mastercard seem anti-crypto, pro-blockchain

Either way, it seems logical that the largest credit players on the market want to put unregulated players under more scrutiny and dodge potential risks, as seems to be a general trend: many countries have at least announced their regulatory frameworks, while the US regulators seems to have extended their purview to fight scammers on the market. It is worth stressing that the alleged move by Mastercard and VISA won’t target compliant players.

Mastercard’s relationship with crypto is rather complex: the company has been putting a lot of effort into studying blockchain and securing patents related to the technology, but has publicly expressed its anti-crypto stance. Thus, in October 2017, Mastercard CEO Ajaypal Banga argued that anonymous, not-state-issued cryptocurrencies are “junk” due to their high volatility and inability to operate as a medium of exchange. Previously, in 2014, Mastercard went as far as releasing anti-Bitcoin videos narrated by South East Asia CEO Matthew Driver, where he argued:

“If its an anonymous transaction, that sounds like a suspicious transaction, why does somebody need to be anonymous?”

VISA, on the other hand, has also been cutting ties with cryptocurrencies while investing in blockchain startups. In January of this year, the company stopped supporting crypto debit cards via a partnership with debit card provider WaveCrest. As a result, cards including those issued by CryptoPay, Bitwala, TenX, Wirex, and others, were suspended, limiting people from paying for goods and services in crypto.

 

This post credited to Cointelegraph Image source: Cointelegraph

IBM and members of the U.S. Congressional Blockchain Caucus discussed the use of blockchain for ID systems, payments, and supply chains during a meeting today, September 24, according to a press call attended by Cointelegraph.

IBM recently published a report entitled “The Impact of Blockchain for Government: Insights on Identity, Payments, and Supply Chain” made in collaboration with the U.S. Congressional Blockchain Caucus.

The report summarizes a series of roundtable discussions between U.S. Representatives Jared Polis (author of “The Cryptocurrency Tax Fairness Act,” which proposes to abolish crypto taxes below $600) and David Schweikert, along with Thomas Hardjono, technical director at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Jerry Cuomo, vice president for blockchain technology and CTO at IBM.

IBM and MIT held three meetings with members of Congress, discussing the need for government funding of blockchain innovation and regulatory sandboxes, in which the state would be able to test different solutions before they are brought to the market.

As Cuomo said during the press-call, experts could study blockchain “the whole day”, but eventually it must be made available to citizens. He stressed that it was “time for the [U.S.] to start acting” on blockchain integration in daily life. “Blockchain is ready for government, let’s get government ready for blockchain,” he added.

Rep. Polis, who previously proposed making Colorado a “national hub for blockchain innovation in business and government,” said that the state has only begun to see “the promise of blockchain technology,” which exceeds cryptocurrencies and tokens.

He stressed the importance of creating the best legal  framework for innovation and blockchain implementation, which could significantly improve the quality of life of Americans. Polis also added that blockchain might address “the real lack of trust in centralized institutions.”

Polis further mentioned the importance of relevant crypto taxation. “We want to make sure that people using cryptocurrencies won’t pay taxes for buying a cup of coffee or a magazine,” he said. However, when later asked on tax holidays for crypto startups, IBM CTO Cuomo said that was “a really big question” that had not yet moved much beyond “small dollar amounts.”

During the call, Rep. Schweikert — who previously urged the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to clarify crypto taxation — said that medicine and social projects would see the most benefit from blockchain solutions. However, he noted that specific encryption standards should be elaborated to protect data — an aim pursued by the caucus’ partnership with several institutions such as MIT and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

As Cointelegraph reported earlier this week, U.S. Congressman and Blockchain Caucus member Tom Emmer announced that he would introduce three bills to support the development of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, as well as establish a safe harbor for taxpayers with “forked” digital assets.

 

This post credited to cointelegraph  Image source: Cointelegraph

It’s Saturday, which means nearly everyone is settled in for a relaxing weekend free from the turmoils of crunching numbers. Because Bitcoin is important and everyone uses electricity, here are a bunch of numbers to throw those people off.

I didn’t major in math so here goes nothing. First, here’s a dose of sobering perspective: Back when people talked to each other for entertainment, given the lack of iPhone chargers in the mid-1800s, people would look into the distance and say something to the effect of “There’s gold in them there hills,” and they actually dug gold out of the dirt all day long. That takes a lot of energy, right?

Cut back to today, mining still exists, but in two contexts. The first is actually sifting through the earth looking for the shiny yellow stuff, i.e. gold. The other is Bitcoinmining, which has some skeptics red-faced and sputtering about the amount of electricity it takes to make a blockchain. Those haters should probably calm down.

Here’s why: Bitcoin mining costs $4.3 billion dollars. That’s not exactly chump change, but compared to the $87.3 billion iceberg that sank the Titanic (AKA gold mining), there’s a sizable difference to be considered. Bitcoin and physical gold both have value, but their respective contexts are the decisive factor here. Because Bitcoin is decentralized in its approach and has no structure for measuring power usage, the millions of miners building blockchains don’t care how much power is consumed to do their job.

However, there are two ways in which power can be estimated per Panda Analytics Inc. investor Vladimir Jelisavcic’s calculations.

Number One: The Top-Down Approach

Generally, it takes 10 minutes to confirm the block transaction, and, according to LongHash.com, for every 12.5 BTC mined per newly created block, miners earn $562,500 per megawatt hour (MWh). The price of electricity is subjective, but if one MWh costs $100 and 30 percent of the total earnings is used to buy electricity, the end result is almost 1,700 MWh for powering the Bitcoin chain.

Number Two: Bottoms Up!

When Bitcoin is created, a function called hashing computes the Bitcoin code. The faster the hash rate, the faster new blocks can be discovered and rewards reaped. The software being used affects the rate at which hashing operates. For example, the Antiminer S9 looks like a kooky air conditioner but is capable of performing 14.5 terahashes per second.

Related: Bitcoin Hash Rate Continues To Increase, Reaches 61.8 EH/s

That’s 14.5 trillion hashing operations every second. If the total Bitcoin network facilitates 50 billion trillion hashes per second (this sounds made up, I know), at least 3.45 million S9 units are necessary to support the blockchain. We’re left with 7,000 MWh and a total energy cost of 4,344 MWh, or $4.3 billion.

So what the deal with gold? Well, according to the world’s largest gold mining company, Barrick Gold Corporation, energy costs are $288 million per year. Based on the corporation’s annual report, gold production costs $794 per ounce. Last year, the company mined 5.3 million ounces—$4.2 billion worth of the precious metal. Net earnings increased drastically from $-2.9 billion in 2014 to $1.4 billion in 2017.

Global Gold Mining

Gold is mined literally everywhere, save for Antarctica. So if the global average for gold mined every year is 88 million ounces, according to the World Gold Council, it’s fair to say gold production costs $70 billion every year. Newly discovered mines are set for excavation starting in 2021 and expected to be sustained by 2023, meaning millions in additional gold reserves and millions more in production costs.

Related: Bitcoin Hash Rate Rapidly Growing Despite Price

Barrick employees own 1.5 million shares of the company, so they have a fair interest in the gold hedge. Investing in Bitcoin, however, is too volatile for investors to risk their treasure chests on, so they’re content for the moment to stick to their laurels. In an interview with Forbes, financial author John Wasik advises investing no more than 10 percent of one’s total portfolio until cryptocurrency continues to establish itself as a regulated entity.

There’s no question that Bitcoin mining energy is the lesser of two evils. It’s more a problem of tangibility (and gold is pretty). But as cryptocurrency leaders continue to prove by example, there is a middle ground closing in on Bitcoin investing. The solution presented is regulation in technology that has its eye on the gold.

This post credited to cryptoslate  Image source: Unsplash

Robinhood, a red-hot investing app that launched cryptocurrency trading in February, is planning an initial public offering (IPO). CEO Baiju Bhatt made the announcement during a talk at TechCrunch Disrupt SF. He says the company is currently looking for a CFO to lead the effort.

Robinhood currently has 5 million customers and roughly 250 employees. The startup is valued at an estimated $5.6 billion, up from $1.3 billion last year when it had 2 million customers.

What separates Robinhood from other trading platforms is that they collect zero commissions, making all trades free.

“We believe that the financial system should work for the rest of us, not just the wealthy […] We’ve cut the fat that makes other brokerages costly, like manual account management and hundreds of storefront locations, so we can offer zero commission trading.”

These perks have created enough momentum for the startup to land on two major media lists. It ranked #6 on LinkedIn’s 2018 Top Startups list, Robinhood, just ahead of cryptocurrency giant Ripple and just behind the popular scooter app Bird.

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Robinhood Crypto also earned an honorable mention from Fast Company, which just announced its Innovation by Design awards for apps and games.

Robinhood

@RobinhoodApp

Robinhood Crypto received an honorable mention in @FastCompany’s 2018 Innovation By Design Awards. Be on the lookout as we continue improving Crypto for all of you–while keeping it commission free.https://www.fastcompany.com/innovation-by-design/2018/category/apps-and-games 

These Are the 397 Most Inspiring, Innovative Designs of 2018 | Fast Company

When it comes to solving problems, these trailblazing businesses are doing it as simply and as beautifully as possible. Meet the 2018 Innovation by Design honorees.

fastcompany.com

Founded in 2013, Robinhood is planning its IPO after five years of solid growth and revenue streams. The company generates revenue through its margin trading subscription service, Robinhood Gold, and by collecting interest on stored investor funds.

 

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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said Tuesday that it has charged and reached agreements with two companies and their owners that operate in the cryptocurrency space.

The securities regulator alleged that Crypto Asset Management LP (CAM) and its principal, Timothy Enneking, had marketed itself under false pretenses, alleging that Enneking raised more than $3 million in late 2017 and claimed that the company was “the first regulated crypto asset fund in the United States.”

According to the SEC statement, Enneking and the company agreed to the SEC’s cease-and-desist order and will pay a penalty of $200,000, without admitting or denying the agency’s findings. Enneking didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Although this isn’t the first time the SEC has issued cease-and-desist letters to companies operating in the crypto space, it is the first that found fault with registration statements made by a cryptocurrency investment company.

Separately, the SEC accused TokenLot LLC and its owners, Lenny Kugel, and Eli L. Lewitt, of acting as unregistered broker-dealers. The agency said that TokenLot – described as a kind of “ICO Superstore” – “received orders from more than 6,100 retail investors and handled more than 200 different digital tokens, which the SEC found included securities.”

As in the case of CAM, Kugel, Lewitt and TokenLot didn’t agree to or deny the SEC’s findings, but agreed to pay $471,000 in disgorgement plus $7,929 in interest.

Lewitt and Kugel will also pay $45,000 each in penalties and “agreed to industry and penny stock bars and an investment company prohibition with the right to reapply after three years.”

“The penalties in this case reflect the prompt cooperation and remedial actions by TokenLot, Kugel, and Lewitt,” Steven Peikin, co-director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division, said in a statement.

Notably, their deal with the SEC also states that they will find “an independent third party to destroy TokenLot’s remaining inventory of digital assets.” How this process will play out is unclear at this time.

Both the SEC orders referenced its 2017 DAO report, which paved the way for a series of SEC enforcement actions against alleged fraudsters in the ICO ecosystem. At the time, the agency said that securities law in the U.S. could apply to token sales.

Since then, senior officials at the SEC, including its chairman Jay Clayton, have made ICOs a significant priority for the agency.

The SEC orders can be found below:

In the Matter of TOKENLOT, LLC, LENNY KUGEL, AND ELI L. LEWITT, by CoinDeskon Scribd

In the Matter of CRYPTO ASSET MANAGEMENT, LP and TIMOTHY ENNEKING, by CoinDesk on Scribd

 

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According to California-based consulting and research firm Grand View Research, the market for blockchain technology will grow to be worth $7.59 bn by 2024. This constitutes a growth of 458% in the period based on a cumulative annual growth rate (CAGR) of 37.5% for the five-and-a-half-year period.

Industry Anticipation

Asset and stock prices broadly track market growth, meaning that $1,000 put as a broad investment in as many blockchain firms as possible would return $5,000 in a few years if projections were to hold up. Regardless, the projection is promising for those working in the industry as well as investors in general. Another finding of the study places emphasis on the public blockchain market in particular, which should see a 39.2% growth average in the same period.

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While these figures are promising, they are actually less than forecasted by another firm earlier this summer. A manager for International Data Corporation said they made a prediction of a market size of $11.7bn by 2022 (twice the growth rate of the latest report). Methodological differences and shifting market conditions often result in varying forecasts.

Deloitte has previously determined that three-quarters of the 1,000 corporates they questioned are considering implementing blockchain solutions as the industry moves closer and closer to mainstream adoption.

About the Source

According to the website of Grand View Research, “each year, Grand View Research completes more than 40 multi-country market, competitor, customer, and sourcing intelligence studies for clients […] The company provides syndicated research reports, customized research reports, and consulting services. Grand View Research database is used by the world’s renowned academic institutions and Fortune 500 companies to understand the global and regional business environment.”

 

This post is credited to blokt   Image source: shutterstock