Seven major crypto exchanges in South Korea have joined forces to create a sound cryptocurrency ecosystem. They have agreed on joint measures such as information sharing and real-time monitoring of abnormal transactions. Meanwhile, the Korean government is working on institutionalizing crypto exchanges.
Also read: Indian Supreme Court Moves Crypto Hearing, Community Calls for Positive Regulations
Seven Crypto Exchanges Join Forces
A parliamentary policy debate on the subject of cryptocurrency exchanges was held on Monday in Seoul, according to local media. Representatives of seven major crypto exchanges in South Korea attended the event and signed an “Agreement for the creation of sound cryptocurrency ecosystem.” The exchanges are Upbit, Bithumb, Korbit, Coinone, Gopax, Coinplug (Cpdax), and Hanbitco. They aim to create “a healthy cryptocurrency ecosystem … to prevent crime and protect investors by creating a sound cryptocurrency ecosystem and preventing money laundering,” Sedaily elaborated.
Under their agreement, the exchanges will establish a consultation system for crime prevention and investor protection, implement real-time monitoring of abnormal transactions such as money laundering and voice phishing, strengthen customer identification, prevent illegal transactions, and introduce some restrictions on transactions with unverified customers.
It was pointed out at the forum that there is an urgent need for government-level regulation since self-regulatory measures are not legally binding, Business Watch reported, and quoted an industry official as saying:
With this agreement, exchanges can establish a close cooperation system and improve their image for investors, but in fact, there is no special penalty for failing to comply.
Regulations and Standards in the Works
Kwon Dae-young, head of the financial innovation bureau at the Financial Services Commission (FSC), explained that “Currently, the government’s position has not changed much since it was revealed last December or January this year.”
He further detailed, “We are trying to institutionalize” cryptocurrency exchanges, “but before we do, we have to answer the question of how to deal with the damage and tears of many virtual currency investors. We must see if any of the projects that can help the people in their daily lives have been presented. Trust and authenticity are important.”
Lee Seok-woo, president of Dunamu Inc. which operates cryptocurrency exchange Upbit, was at the meeting. He proposed a number of measures for cryptocurrency exchange regulation. His recommendations include minimum qualifications and standards, AML/KYC (anti-money laundering / know-your-customer) obligations, and an exchange registration system. Lee was quoted by Business Watch as saying:
If you [crypto exchange] cannot meet the standard after a six-month or one-year grace period, you should close it.
What do you think of these exchanges collaborating to create a sound crypto ecosystem? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Sedaily.
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At Web Summit 2018, in early November, Yoni Assia, Chief Executive of eToro, announced the launch of GoodDollar: an ecosystem-led project that explores how cryptocurrency and blockchain technology may reduce inequality through models based on universal basic income (UBI).
Less than two weeks later, on November 19, GoodDollar’s first community event took place, in Berlin, and was designed to establish an OpenUBI ecosystem. The day-long conference, titled OpenUBI in the Crypto Age, gathered like-minded people seeking to reduce wealth inequality from around the globe.
The event, held at the office of amatus. in the north of the German capital, attracted numerous leading lights in this space from all over the world. It was part of Revision Summit 2018, a social-impact technology conference, and sponsored by eToro, the leading global social trading and investing platform that is funding $1 million towards GoodDollar. The OpenUBI community has been formed to encourage collaboration and discussion around UBI and its technological implementation. “Anyone can join because we are building a decentralised community,” says Gilad Barner, GoodDollar’s community and operations manager.
The event, held at the office of amatus. in the north of the German capital, attracted numerous leading lights in this space from all over the world. It was part of Revision Summit 2018, a social-impact technology conference, and sponsored by eToro, the leading global social trading and investing platform that is funding $1 million towards GoodDollar.
The OpenUBI community has been formed to encourage collaboration and discussion around UBI and its technological implementation. “Anyone can join, because we are building a decentralised community,” says Gilad Barner, GoodDollar’s community and operations manager.
The OpenUBI community has been formed to encourage collaboration and discussion around UBI and its technological implementation. “Anyone can join, because we are building a decentralised community,” says Gilad Barner, GoodDollar’s community and operations manager.
“Berlin has a very vibrant, pioneering, UBI-aware community,” continues Mr Barner. “There are a lot of projects happening in this space in the city.”
For example, one project is Circles, an electronic cryptocurrency that aims to create and distribute a globally accessible UBI. Julio Linares and Karenina Schröder, from the Berlin-based organisation that utilises a network of enthusiasts and volunteers, provided lectures on their work. Karenina’s enlightening talk focused on the rise of women in blockchain and specifically the OpenUBI space.
Two-afternoon panel sessions – discussing governance and identity challenges of both crypto and UBI – particularly sparked debate, and ideas. Panelists talked about how individuals and groups should work together in this area. Moreover, project leaders left the conference with a much better idea of how to collaborate, and who with.
One delegate, Kingsley Advani, founder and partner at Chainfund Capital, said: “We have never had such an opportunity or a platform to be able to provide UBI at scale. In this day and age we have the technology, and with the blockchain, companies like GoodDollar can provide UBI to those with the greatest need. We also have the potential to audit UBI. We can track if a family in Africa has received UBI and in the future, we can follow what they use the proceeds for.”
Cem Dagdelen, Founder at Horatii Partners, agreed and said: “UBI is a design space where you can actually create future economic systems. [Karl] Marx only had his pen and paper while designing [UBI], and now we have this beautiful design space where we can create autonomous entities, economic systems. UBI fits here perfectly.”
Another attendee, meditation facilitator Thorsten Wiesmann, was similarly enthusiastic about OpenUBI. “Evolution of humanity goes to a direction where we need to be conscious of our choices on an ethical level, much more than ever before, with artificial intelligence and other developments. Cryptocurrencies and UBIs, these are tools, or playgrounds, you might call them, to find out solutions that work for everyday life and for the society as a whole,” he said.
“The first get-together event was very well received and very successful,” continues Mr Barner. “People were hugely excited to meet one another, and itching to start collaborating on projects. It was great to see attendees realising there truly is an ecosystem. It was proof that this is possible.”
“Many individuals, all around the world, are coming to the conclusion that UBI solutions need to be explored. There is no reason why they should not work together, and if they do it will be much more efficient. A lot of meetings were generated from the conference.”
Mr Assia was also greatly encouraged by the OpenUBI event in Berlin. He hopes this movement will encourage communication and collaboration within this space, and be the catalyst for GoodDollar and other UBI projects to be developed, which is the ultimate goal. “I was excited to see the ecosystem collaborating, and feel confident that OpenUBI will lead to significant breakthroughs and the creation of amazing products in this space,” he says.
The Berlin conference marked the first cornerstone of the OpenUBI community, according to Mr Barner. He will be in London later on this week, on December 13, moderating a GoodDollar panel at The Next Web’s Hard Fork summit. “I hope everyone can come along to this event, which will indicate how active the ecosystem is in London, and what projects are happening” he adds. “The OpenUBI movement is just starting, and I want to see this sort of activity happening in every city in the world.”
Join GoodDollar. The project needs builders, scientists and experts in identity, privacy, and financial governance, as well as philanthropists and ambassadors. Email GoodDollar at [email protected], contact us via our social media channels (Twitter and Telegram), or join the OpenUBI movement.
The United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is seeking public comments and guidance on the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain, according to an official press release published Dec. 11.
In order to improve the commission’s understanding of Ethereum and its underlying technology, the CFTC has announced its intention to publish a respective Request for Information (RFI) with the Federal Register.
In the upcoming RFI, the commission will request public comments on a wide range of questions such as Ethereum-related “technology, opportunities, risks, mechanics,” its market features, as well as use cases of Ethereum network applications.
Moreover, the CFTC has expressed the wish to better understand the differences and similarities between Ethereum and the seminal cryptocurrency Bitcoin (BTC), specifically the “opportunities, challenges, and risks” associated with the Ethereum altcoin.
According to the statement, all public comments to the Ethereum-related RFI will be accepted within 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. In addition, the commission noted that the results of the RFI will assist the CFTC’s fintech initiative called LabCFTC.
Founded in May 2017, LabCFTC is a dedicated hub for “engagement with the fintech innovation community,” aiming to examine “new regulatory fintech developments in the marketplace,” as noted by CFTC chairman Christopher Giancarlo earlier this year.
In late November, LabCFTC published a primer concerning smart contracts, following its first crypto-publication in October 2017. In the document entitled “Primer on Smart Contracts,” the CFTC’s innovation hub formed a working definition of the technology in addition to outlining its risks and benefits.
“Wanchain is a separate, independent, public chain,” CEO Jack Lu says on a recent December morning. He explains that it is essentially a fork of Ethereum which integrated a lot of privacy-focused changes and primarily focuses on cross-chain compatibility.
Wanchain wants to be the bridge between blockchains, allowing multi-crypto transaction execution in a private manner. Officially, in text, it describes itself as “the world’s first and only interoperable blockchain with secure multi-party computation.”
Wanchain layman might think of it like Ethereum + Monero with a hint of ShapeShift. Wanchain seeks to perform the functions of all of the above. While it’s not necessarily competing with Ethereum as a token platform, if tokens leverage Wanchain’s capabilities, they would have the inherent ability to be transferred in terms of value between blockchains. They add a high degree of privacy not had in Bitcoin or Ethereum, and their ultimate goal is to act at the decentralized intermediary between blockchains, as ShapeShift and other exchanges currently do in a centralized manner. “You can have private transactions on Wanchain,” Lu tells this reporter.
Wanchain utilizes Secure Multi-Party Computing – SMPC – to execute cross-chain transactions. This means that the receiving party can be sure the funds are locked in the sending party’s anterior wallet. Lu explains:
“We have interoperability solutions, cross-chain solutions, which allow us to connect with other blockchains like Ethereum and Bitcoin. SMPC allows us to control assets in a separate chain. When the user wants to send a coin or transaction from Bitcoin to Wanchain, SPMC knows how to handle this bridge. It will send the Bitcoin transactions to a locked account in Bitcoin, and at the same time we will issue a token – but it’s not really an issuance because we just transfer a proxy token on Wanchain to that particular user.”
Wanchain Creates Bridge from Ethereum to Bitcoin
Lu says that in the future, public chains like Ethereum and Bitcoin can essentially be represented and shielded with the privacy of Wanchain. While the transparency inherent in Bitcoin is nice, there are plenty of users who wish for more privacy. Lu says that Wanchain uses the Monero style of private transactions. In Monero, at least, a view key is required to even know anything, really, about a given transaction, although the records are publicly accessible.
It is Wanchain’s interoperability that attracted the MakerDAO, a smart contract which contains as much as 1% of all Ethereum and stabilizes units to the dollar through algorithmic methods, to Wanchain when seeking a cross-chain compatibility partner.
Tuesday, Wanchain announced and launched its Bitcoin interoperability upgrade. The move marks its 3.0 iteration, the 2.0 series having been the generation when they focused on Ethereum interoperability.
The reader may call to mind the recent work of R3, as this reporter did, and their ability to move funds through the centralized clearinghouse networks of banks and certain value networks like Ripple, with their recently released Cordapp. Lu pointed out that the work R3 is doing is primarily for the blockchain consortiums it represents, which include large financial institutions who have specific needs. He said that Wanchain, in the present, is focused on linking blockchains and adding privacy wherever possible, and in the future, they fully intend to add more blockchains – virtually any blockchain that might have demand for it.
Using Wanchain for cross-chain transactions instead centralized exchanges means that transactions stay secure and decentralized. There is no counterparty risk, and as they point out in a press release around the 3.0 launch:
Decentralized exchanges leveraging Wanchain’s cross-chain (Ethereum-based) or build directly on Wanchain will now be able to offer Bitcoin trading pairs. New pairs on decentralized exchanges with BTC will allow for drastic increases in liquidity for the space at large. Other use cases for this cross-chain capability could include cross-chain crypto loans, crypto payments leveraging multiple chains, and any other use case for bringing Bitcoin to applications currently siloed to Ethereum. The opportunities cross-chain with Bitcoin will bring for Wanchain and the industry are quite exciting.
Basically, any exchange that’s running either Ethereum and Wanchain or Bitcoin and Wanchain can now offer additional pairs without an undue amount of work. Wanchain does the work for them, and Lu says, “For this release, we will add a lot of Ethereum tokens. We’ve already announced about MakerDAO, which is a stablecoin, but now we’ve also added other Ethereum tokens, so now all these ERC-20 tokens can be traded against Bitcoin in a decentralized exchange.”
The Wanchain wallet has a convenient “crosschain” button embedded in it, and documents make it clear how to execute cross-chain transactions. The Wan, the native token of the Wanchain, was trading at around 33 cents USD at time of writing. If significant demand for the network’s functions picks up, demand for the token would as well.
Featured image from Shutterstock.
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While many traders eagerly await a potential bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF), some of the cryptocurrency’s most passionate advocates are lukewarm at best about the prospect of such an instrument.
Twitter is flush with users like crypto entrepreneur Jonathan Hamel posting about how an ETF would bring an “epic” inflow of institutional capital to the ecosystem – that is, “billions” of dollars in new investments.
But if you talk to early adopters and veteran technologists in the bitcoin community, you’ll hear resounding indifference, if not queasiness.
“I don’t think an ETF is going to be some kind of massive magnet,” Pierre Rochard, founder of the Brooklyn-based Bitcoin Advisory LLC, told CoinDesk. “Substantively, it’s really not that much different than fractional reserve banking.”
Last week, the U.S. Securities and Exchange postponed plans to reevaluate ETF proposals from financial institutions such as VanEck and SolidX to as late as February 27, 2019. This means two more months of nail-biting for those who believe the ETF would be a huge boon to bitcoin or the savior of the overall crypto marketplace.
And yet, in reference to Grayscale’s Bitcoin Investment Trust, which launched in 2015, bitcoin analyst Nik Bhatia told CoinDesk:
“I don’t see the additional ETFs improving bitcoin’s liquidity any more than the GBTC already does.”
Although Bhatia said he would nevertheless welcome a regulator-approved ETF because it might increase public trust in this new asset class, some crypto veterans went as far as to say an ETF could actually be harmful to the broader ecosystem. To them, an ETF contradicts the vision of a peer-to-peer financial network fueled by self-custodied assets.
“It’s kind of a centralizing force and the value proposition of bitcoin is it’s decentralized, global,” Lightning Labs developer Alex Bosworth told CoinDesk.
For Bosworth, the biggest risk that a bitcoin ETF presents is that it might incentivize institutions to work collectively to influence the ecosystem.
Referring to the thwarted New York Agreement in 2017 – when leading crypto companies planned to support unpopular bitcoin network updates simultaneously despite public outcry – Bosworth explained:
“We saw companies that are custodians for other people’s coins, talking as if they hold those coins and take actions that decide, on behalf of their users, without even consulting them…We don’t want to have central parties out there negotiating for fundamental rule changes in bitcoin.”
This is the same reason that bitcoin veteran Christopher Allen, the former principal architect at Blockstream, distrusts the institutions that are working to create a regulated bitcoin ETF.
“The real reason they are doing it is they can play financial games to make them a much higher interest rate than what they would otherwise,” Allen told CoinDesk. “I think there are a lot of implications of that. How do we educate people on what fiduciary responsibility and custody really is?”
Bhatia agreed that the industry is transitioning to prioritize a “trusted custody model,” but doesn’t think such institutional products will have a significant impact on cypherpunk traditionalists.
“People that currently store their own bitcoin aren’t going to rush into the ETF because they’re not looking for the same things,” he said.
Don’t hold your breath
Other bitcoin veterans are concerned retail investors are putting more faith in an ETF’s ability to rescue sinking cryptocurrency prices than the prospective product actually deserves.
If approved in the near future, Rochard said, he expects bitcoin ETFs would make up an even smaller percentage of the market than gold ETFs, which he estimated represent less than 2 percent of the global gold supply.
“We’re talking about a very niche part of the market that would be interested in a bitcoin ETF product,” Rochard said. “It would be even less than gold is used in an ETF because the overall settlement cost of bitcoin is lower than those of physically settling gold.”
Others say any boost to the price might be short-lived.
During CoinDesk’s Consensus: Invest conference in November, BlockTower Capital’s chief investment officer Ari Paul warned the audience to recall how the addition of bitcoin futures boosted short-term speculation far more than institutional commitment. The price settled back down within months.
“If an ETF was launched, it’s not that there would suddenly be massive institutional flows. I think on the announcement you’d get a massive rally,” Paul said. “That’s not because you suddenly get $50 million [in] institutional investors’ money, it’s because speculators price it in.”
And it’s important to remember that any euphoria (or anxiety) about a bitcoin ETF is still academic.
On December 5, SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce told the audience during fireside chat in Washington D.C. not to “hold your breath,” because a regulator-approved bitcoin ETF could still be years away. She added:
“I do caution people to not live or die on when a crypto or bitcoin ETF gets approved.”
Even if an ETF were to be approved, bitcoin advocates question how this structure – in which a fund owns underlying assets and divides ownership of them into shares – would address the idiosyncrasies of cryptocurrency.
For example, what if there’s another fork of the network, like the one that create bitcoin cash last year?
“Do they [ETF custodians] give the coins back to people or do they suddenly become an index fund?” Rochard said. “I don’t think there’s a precedent at all [from capital markets], because bitcoin doesn’t have a legal identity and corporations do.”
Allen said ETF issuers would need to clarify how they store and tally their bitcoin, so that products representing this underlying assets wouldn’t be loaned out over and over in a process called rehypothecation. As Caitlin Long, co-founder of the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition, wrote in a Forbes column, rehypothecation is antithetical to the bitcoin ethos because there is a finite bitcoin supply, 21 million at max.
As such, there’s no way to bail out lenders if borrowers were owed more bitcoin than the ETF-issuer actually possessed.
However, Gabor Gurbacs, the director of digital asset strategy for VanEck, told CoinDesk his company’s proposal would involve cold storage, daily disclosures to defuse any concerns about rehypothecation, and a handbook of regulator-approved index fund procedures to follow in the case of a bitcoin fork.
“We intend to stay true to the core tenets of bitcoin,” Gurbacs said, adding that ETF holders would be primarily exposed to the asset defined by Bitcoin Core unless another chain became dominant and equally secure.
“I don’t see any operational issues. I think we’ve figured it out and we’re waiting for the regulators to make a decision on this,” he went on to explain.
Like many bitcoin advocates, Rochard said that anything which boosts bitcoin’s overall liquidity – even modestly – is a good thing.
On the other hand, he sympathized with the skeptical indifference many technologists feel toward financial institutions.
“It would be really unfortunate if people lose sight of why bitcoin has value,” Rochard said. “But it would be such a small part of the market, so there’d be limited impact on that.”
Businessman on dart board image via Shutterstock
Local media has reported that the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has banned security token offerings (STOs). Pan Gongsheng, a deputy governor of the PBOC, has mobilized the same rhetoric used with regard to initial coin offerings (ICOs) in describing STOs, accusing security token offerings of comprising “illegal financial activity.”
Also Read: Federal Agents Told This Silk Road Moderator to Fake His Own Death
Security Token Offerings Deemed to Comprise Illegal Activity in Mainland China
Gongsheng recently told state-owned media channel China Central Television that STOs are “still essentially an illegal financial activity in China.”
Speaking at the recent 2018 Global Wealth Management Forum, Huo Xuewen, the director of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Local Financial Supervision, also sought to discourage entities from conducting STOs, stating of the emerging phenomenon: “I want to warn those who are promoting STO fundraising in Beijing. Don’t do it in Beijing. You will be kicked out if you do it.”
Despite Widespread Perceptions of Greater Legitimacy, Chinese Officials Lump STOs Alongside ICOs
Gongsheng claimed that “virtual money has become an accomplice to all kinds of illegal and criminal activities,” seeking to emphasize the successes of the Chinese ICO crackdown that was launched during September 2017. Prior to action taken against Chinese ICOs, it was approximated that 80 percent of global ICO financing was taking place in mainland China.
The deputy governor added that the majority of ICOs conducted in China are suspected of engaging in illegal fundraising, pyramid schemes, and other financial fraud.
Cao Hua of United Asset Management predicted that China’s regulators will “continue to strengthen regulation in the financial technology market” to ensure stability, adding that “new business models in the financial technology sector are not welcome in China now.”
A tokenized real estate investment trust STO was conducted in the U.S. at the end of November, which saw Convexity Prosperities launch a token offering seeking to raise $20 million from accredited investors in partnership with private investment tokenization platform Harbor. For now, though, STOs, as with ICOs, remain largely off-limits to Chinese citizens who are barred from participating.
Do you think that STOs will be met with regulatory hostility in other jurisdictions? Or will a crackdown be implemented by few states other than China? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Images courtesy of Shutterstock
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Social media giant Facebook is looking to grow its blockchain team, according to a report.
The company posted on its careers page that it’s looking for data engineers and scientists, software engineers and a product marketing lead for its blockchain team.
The company said its ultimate goal is to “help billions of people with access to things they don’t have now – that could be things like equitable financial services, it could be new ways to save, it could be new ways to share information.
“The blockchain team is a startup within Facebook, with a vision to make blockchain technology work at Facebook scale,” the ad said. “We’re exploring lots of areas of interest across all facets of blockchain technology.”
The company has been exploring blockchain use cases recently, so the announcement of its intent to expand the team was expected. Facebook already has about a dozen people working on blockchain and cryptocurrency. The team is led by former Facebook Messenger Head David Marcus, who was also previously a board member at Coinbase.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been vocal about his support of cryptocurrency and blockchain, and the potential to use them to “take power from centralized systems and put it back into people’s hands.”
In the post, Facebook laid out the tenets of the employees it is seeking.
“Facebook is seeking an experienced data engineer to join the Blockchain Data Engineering team,” the ad said. “Do you like working with data? Do you want to use data to influence product decisions for products leveraging fascinating blockchain technology? Our data engineering team works very closely with product managers, data scientists, software engineers, economic researchers, compliance and risk management to build intuitive, secure products to solve some of the most challenging problems, at a scale that few companies can match. This is technically challenging, will have massive global impact and you will get to work closely with smart folks on an intellectually challenging initiative. This is a full-time position based in our office in Menlo Park.”