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Dutch AFM on Licensing Requirements for Institutions Invested in Crypto
The Dutch financial regulator, The Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) has published a letter addressed to new and currently existing institutions invested in cryptocurrencies. The letter seeks to inform that certain cryptocurrency investment activities may require licensing from the AFM, however, expresses “serious doubts” as to “whether managers of investment institutions in cryptos can meet the requirements for licensing.”

The letter seeks to address individuals seeking to apply as an administrator of an investment institution in cryptos, in addition to “existing […] administrator[s] of an investment institution active in cryptos, or [individuals] planning an investment institution to manage cryptos.”

The AFM states that it is placing the “heavy requirements” on institutions investing in cryptocurrencies due to “strong concern[s]” as to whether managers of investment institutions who invest in cryptos are able to meet the full licensing requirements. The AFM’s concerns principally regard “the sharp increase in interest in new market parties to provide these services in combination with the usually limited knowledge about applicable regulations,” which generally results in “ignorance” as to how to meet “supervisory standards in practice.”

The AFM also requests that investment institution inform the agency regarding “any desired expansion of [cryptocurrency] product offering[s]” well in advance of providing such.
Licensing Requirements for Dutch Investment Institutions

The AFM to clarify what circumstances in which the administrator for an investment institution will be required to seek licensing from the regulator. The letter states that the “threshold value for an administrator of (an) open-end investment institution (s) [is] €100 million [approximately $1,162 million USD].”

“An administrator of an investment institution must obtain a number of important licenses to [meet] licens[ing] requirements,” the AFM continues. “These requirements are intended to include to protect the interests of retail investors and to ensure the proper functioning of retail investors market. No distinction is made between different forms of investing.”

The AFM has “drawn up a number of questions” that administrators of institutions invested in cryptocurrencies will be required to answer in order to apply for the required licensing. Said requirements pertain to the institution’s liquidity management, valuation protocols, the product development process, and storage considerations.
Jun-17-2018 07:53:37 AM
Bitcoin Core Version 0.16.1 Officially Released
Bitcoin Core version 0.16.1, a new major version including new features and performance improvements, has been officially released, according to an announcement made June 15.

The new release reportedly includes “new features, various bugfixes and performance improvements, as well as updated translations.” Notably, this Bitcoin Core version removed miner block size recalling the deprecation of the “-blockmaxsize” option for miners to limit their blocks’ sizes in version 0.15.1. It states that miners now should apply “-blockmaxweight” option if they want to limit the weight of their blocks.

Additionally, the upgrade affected wallets which were created in 0.16 and later. They are “not compatible with versions prior to 0.16 and will not work if you try to use newly created wallets in older versions,” the release says.

The previous Bitcoin Core client version was released at the end of February, and provided “full support” for Segregated Witness (SegWit) scaling technology, which is designed to reduce processing and wait times, as well as transactions fees. Bitcoin Core developer Jimmy Song, then commented on the most notable feature of Bitcoin Core version 0.16.0, saying that “native SegWit support (bech32) is going to get much more adoption as a result of this update. This will reduce block bloat and encourage more wallets in the ecosystem to adopt bech32.”
Jun-17-2018 07:51:44 AM
Indonesian Regulator Gives Green Light for Crypto Futures Trading
Indonesia's Futures Exchange Supervisory Board (Bappebti), a commodities market regulator under the country's Ministry of Trade, has reportedly ruled that cryptocurrencies are commodities that can be traded on the country's futures exchange.

According to a Jarkata Post report on Monday, the agency's market supervision chief, Dharma Yoga, has confirmed the decision and said the ruling came after a four-month study period that examined the issue.

According to Yoga, the agency has now signed a decree to formalize the decision, potentially clearing the way for the launch of a bitcoin futures product in Indonesia.

Meanwhile, other regulations around cryptocurrency exchanges and related taxation in the country will also be revealed by the country's central bank and its taxation agency, Yoga said.

The central bank, Bank Indonesia, suggested late last year that it would prohibit bitcoin payments in the country, and subsequently stated it does not recognize the cryptocurrency as a legal payment method. However, it did not mention cryptocurrency exchanges at the time.

Yoga further indicated that, in order to prepare a comprehensive regulatory framework, the agency is now requesting domestic cryptocurrency exchanges to submit regulatory proposals.
Jun-4-2018 01:17:44 PM
Bitcoin's Low Volume Breakout Could Be a Bull Trap
Bitcoin looks primed for a move to $8,000, but low trading volumes point to the risk of a bull trap.

The cryptocurrency broke through a key descending trendline (drawn through the May 6 high to the May 21 high) on Sunday, adding credence to last Tuesday's bullish outside-day candle and signaling a short-term bearish-to-bullish trend change.

However, at the same time, daily trading volume fell 1.77 percent to $4.85 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. Further, rolling 24-hour trading volume currently stands at $4.95 billion – down 22.5 percent from the current quarterly average of $6.38 billion.

Low volume is a cause for concern for the bulls, as it is widely considered a sign that the market is approaching a peak; that is, the rally will be short-lived.

Hence, a slight pullback seen today does not come as a surprise. At time of writing, the cryptocurrency is trading at $7,591 on Bitfinex – down 2 percent from the previous day's (UTC) close of $7,718.

The bullish outside-day candle followed by a bullish crossover between the 5-day and 10-day moving averages (MAs), and an upside break of the falling trendline, indicate scope for a rally to $8,000.

However, the decline in trading volume over the last seven days puts a question market on the sustainability of the corrective rally from $7,040 (May 29 low) to $7,779 (Sunday's high).

On the 4-hour chart, trading volume has picked up as prices fell back to $7,549 from the high of $7,764.

The anemic trading volume during the price rally and the later increase in trading volume during negative price action indicates a high probability of a downside break of the rising wedge pattern. In such a case, bitcoin risks falling back to last week's low of $7,040.

The upside break of the falling trendline has opened the doors for a rise to $8,000. However, low volumes may indicate a false breakout.
A downside break of the rising wedge seen in the 4-hour chart would allow a drop to $7,040.
Only a high-volume break above $7,700 could yield a sustainable rally to $8,000.
Jun-4-2018 01:10:18 PM
Kidnappers snatch a 13-year-old South African boy and demand his ransom be paid in bitcoins
Lagos, Nigeria (CNN)A group of South African kidnappers who snatched a 13-year-old boy as he played with friends have demanded a $120,000 ransom in bitcoin cryptocurrency, police say.
Police say Katlego Marite was taken by three men in a car as he played with two friends near his home in the eastern province of Mpumalanga.
Police spokesman Brigadier Leonard Hlathi told CNN the incident in the coal-mining city of Witbank was over in minutes and the abductors seemed to make a beeline for Marite. "It happened very fast and there was no struggle," Hlathi told CNN.
"His friends reported that these were full grown men who just went for him and grabbed him into the car and dropped a ransom note. They demanded that his parents should pay a ransom in bitcoins."
Hlathi said the sum demanded was 15 bitcoins, which is roughly equivalent to $120,000 in cash.
A copy of the ransom note was also posted on several social media accounts.
The kidnappers warn the parents not to involve the police, saying: "We have your child. Your child will not be harmed if the following demands are met."
The note asks the boy's family to pay 1 bitcoin by May 21 and the full amount by May 27. The family has yet to pay any of the ransom, Hlathi said.
Bitcoin is a new currency that is not tied to any country or subject to regulation. Bitcoins are traded on exchanges and stored in virtual bank accounts called digital wallets.
The ransom note also included information about a wallet to which to send the payment.

Hlathi said the case was puzzling as Marite's parents are not wealthy and do not know what bitcoin currency is.
"They are just in tatters right now," he said.

He added that he was not aware of any other ransom demands for bitcoins or any virtual currency in South Africa.
Although South Africa has a high crime rate, Hlathi said Witbank is a mining area where kidnapping is not frequent.
In December, kidnappers in Ukraine received a ransom worth more than one million in bitcoins for releasing their victim -- an employee of a British cryptocurrency exchange, according to a report from Reuters news agency.
May-24-2018 05:34:16 AM
Bank in Argentina Launches BTC Settlement Services
A small bank from Argentina, Banco Masventas, announced this week that it's allowing customers to make settlements using BTC as a payment rail. Argentina Banco Masventas says the firm partnered with the exchange Bitex, and believes the service will reduce costs associated with international transfers.

On Monday, May 21 the Latin American exchange Bitex and the small financial institution Banco Masventas announced a partnership which will provide the bank with a new cryptocurrency settlement service now offered to its customers. The bank has been a financial entity located in the heart of Argentina for years offering banking solutions to individuals and businesses mainly in the Provinces of Salta. According to Banco Masventas Facebook and Medium announcement, it will be the first bank to offer settlement services using BTC.

"The service allows you to reduce costs associated with international transfers as there are no international banks as intermediaries," explains the Bitex and Banco Masventas announcement.

"Our fund logistics solution allows reduced settlement times and send or receive transfers up to 24 hours"

Argentina Becomes More Friendly Towards Cryptocurrencies Every Day

If a Banco Masventas customer wants to utilize the BTC settlement service an account representative will help facilitate the transaction explains the bank. The financial institution also details that if an individual is a current account holder it’s likely they already qualify to use the BTC payment service. The bank announcement reveals the international transfer commission for BTC settlement is 3.00% + VAT.

Argentina government officials are very friendly towards public cryptocurrencies like BTC unlike neighboring countries such as Ecuador. Recently the Central Bank of the Argentine Republic (BCRA) allowed the installation of Bitcoin Automatic Teller Machines (BTMs) in the country and residents may see an influx of BTMs this year. Further last December Tim Draper told the Argentine President Mauricio Marci he should invest in cryptocurrencies. Digital asset proponents think the Argentina-based Banco Masventas creating cryptocurrency services will prompt other Latin American banks to follow the company's lead.

May-24-2018 05:29:15 AM
Warren Buffet is Wrong About Bitcoin, and That’s Okay
Cryptocurrencies took a beating at last week’s Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting. In comments to CNBC before the event, Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO, Warren Buffet, described Bitcoin as “probably rat poison squared.” Unlike other famed investors like George Soros, Buffet is a well-document skeptic of cryptocurrencies.

In January, Buffet told CNBC:

“In terms of cryptocurrencies, generally, I can say with almost certainty that they will come to a bad ending…If I could buy a five-year put on every one of the cryptocurrencies, I’d be glad to do it but I would never short a dime’s worth.”

Buffet’s comments and those of his confidants are so strong because they see cryptocurrencies as a speculative commodity similar to gold or other metals. Instead, Buffet prefers stocks because they produce earnings and dividends, which serve as tangible identifiers for the investment product’s worth.

According to media at the event, Buffet’s comments were relatively tempered compared to those made by Charlie Munger, Buffet’s longtime collaborator. On stage at the event, Munger said:

“To me, it’s just dementia. It’s like somebody else is trading turds and you decide you can’t be left out.”

The two appear to take pleasure in being the defenders of the old-guard financial system, and their remarks carry a lot of weight. At the time of his comments, Bitcoin was approaching $10,000, but it retreated nearly 8% in the days after Buffet spoke. It’s been hovering around $8,500 ever since.
Is Buffet Right?

Increasingly, Buffet and others who are staunchly opposed to digital currencies like Bitcoin are becoming pariahs in their field.

In recent weeks, several mainstream financial institutions took steps toward integrating Bitcoin into their financial product offerings. Goldman Sachs announced that it would open a Bitcoin trading desk, and The New York Times reported that Intercontinental Exchange, the parent company for The New York Stock Exchange, is considering development for a cryptocurrency trading platform.

Of course, the crypto community is as ardent and enthusiastic as they come, and many took to Twitter to voice their disagreement.

Even so, it’s worth considering the reasoning behind Buffet’s sentiment. Is it true that Bitcoin and other digital currencies are more akin to digital gold than viable investment products? Perhaps more importantly, is there a value proposition beyond our current crypto moment?
Weiss Ratings Offers a Counter-Narrative

Weiss Ratings, an independent agency that provides letter grades for various cryptocurrencies, sees things differently. On Thursday, Martin Weiss, founder of Weiss Ratings, disputed Buffet’s assertions, and he offered an alternative narrative that espoused the benefits of cryptocurrencies.

Mr. Weiss believes that cryptocurrencies have value in three critical ways:
#1 Intrinsic Value

Blockchain technology and the ecosystems that it enables are increasingly becoming dominant forces at the enterprise and governmental level. With so many people actively pursuing blockchain adoption and integration, these platforms are significant drivers of value.

Therefore, Weiss argues, cryptocurrencies are effectively a share in a particular blockchain platform. For example, for holders of Ether, their digital currencies become more valuable as the platform continues to proliferate. In this way, cryptocurrencies really aren’t that much different than traditional stocks.
#2 Exchange Value

Cryptocurrencies are already popular, and their integration is nearly unanimously trending toward higher levels of adoption, not less. A simple supply and demand scenario indicates that cryptocurrencies are poised to increase in value rather than remaining stagnant. Even if demand subsides and their value decreases, they are still a fluid market, so Buffet’s assertion that cryptocurrencies are effectively a static investment seems misguided or misunderstood.
#3 Monetary System

The original use case for Bitcoin was as a facilitator of digital p2p transactions, and some digital currencies are already usable at checkout. However, it’s also possible that a digital currency could play a role as a digital expression of a national currency, or it’s possible that a private currency could gain widespread adoption as a payment system.

As such, owning a cryptocurrency would be a viable way to participate in this ecosystem.
Popular Doesn’t Mean Perfect

Ultimately, cryptocurrencies don’t attain validity by the affirmation of every member of the financial elite. Throughout their torrid run, cryptocurrencies have been criticized by thought and industry leaders as well as government officials.
Instead, it’s crucial for cryptocurrency supporters to continue thinking critically about the formation of cryptocurrencies and supporting projects that they believe in.

Unlike with the established financial system, participants in the crypto movement have the opportunity to form and shape it into what they want it to become. By listening to contrarian voices like Warren Buffet, the community can gain valuable insight into some of cryptos shortcomings, but that still doesn’t mean that he’s right.

Crypto will be fine with or without his endorsement, but his sentiments are not rat poison either.
May-15-2018 08:24:04 AM
Bitcoin Adoption Continues: Parking Lots, Supplies Store, Courses, Boutique Hotel
Bitcoin adoption continues to grow rapidly worldwide. This adoption roundup features four merchants that recently started accepting the digital currency – a boutique hotel in Spain, parking lots, an electrical supply store, and online courses in Japan.
Parking Lots

Park Realty Co. Ltd., which provides a parking lot sharing serving called QRpark, announced last week that it has started accepting bitcoin payments.

Bitcoin Adoption Continues: Parking Lots, Supplies Store, Courses, Boutique Hotel“It is the service to convert the industry’s first monthly parking lot into a temporary parking lot,” the company described. A parking lot owner just needs to set up a visible signboard on the premises to be shared. “Guests using the parking lot select the parking time at the time of parking and pay the fee using the [QRpark] application,” the company detailed, adding that “Compared to [traditional] coin parking, capital investment is small, so the price is also cheap.”

The announcement states that the company believes that this system will lower the vacancy rate of monthly parking lots, and expects that approximately 4,000 locations and 10,000 renters nationwide to use this service throughout the year.

The QRpark team wrote:

We decided to introduce a bitcoin payment service, expecting to increase the convenience for customers by increasing the means of payment and [it will] lead to the acquisition of new customers.

Electrical Supplies Store

Bitcoin Adoption Continues: Parking Lots, Supplies Store, Courses, Boutique HotelFujiden Corporation recently started accepting bitcoin payments at one of its stores in Japan – the Yawata Electrical Materials Purchasing Center. This is done through Japan’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume, Bitflyer. The company currently has 11 stores in Japan, mostly in Kyoto and Osaka. The Yawata location is in Kyoto prefecture.

“Cash settlement is the mainstream for electrical wires, electrical construction materials, electrical tools etc. used at construction sites, such as [for] electrical work and air conditioning construction,” the company explained, adding that while its stores focus on credit cards, “We intend to pursue further convenience by introducing bitcoin payments.”

Bitcoin Adoption Continues: Parking Lots, Supplies Store, Courses, Boutique Hotel

Bitcoin Adoption Continues: Parking Lots, Supplies Store, Courses, and Boutique Hotel
Online Courses

Kiramex recently announced that it is accepting bitcoin payments for courses at its online school, Techacademy. Citing that customers can use Bitflyer’s Bitwise Shop to pay for all courses offered at the Techacademy online boot camp, the company elaborated:

Techacademy responds to the needs of users born from new technologies and markets, such as starting to offer blockchain courses since February this year. The bitcoin payment [option] this time is part of that effort.

Bitcoin Adoption Continues: Parking Lots, Supplies Store, Courses, and Boutique HotelSpain’s Hotel El Tiburon

El Tiburón is a boutique hotel located on the beach of La Carihuela, Spain. The hotel announced last week that it has become “the first hotel in Andalusia to accept cryptocurrencies as a form of payment,” specifically naming “four main cryptocurrencies: bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin, and bitcoin cash.” The hotel uses Coinbase Commerce to accept crypto payments.

El Tiburón says:

We bet on technology to provide our customers with the latest digital trends, due to the great boom that has been generated with bitcoin, ethereum, dash, etc., we have decided that our customers should be able to pay for our services with this innovative technology.
May-7-2018 04:49:51 AM
Goldman Sachs Says Bitcoin ‘Is Not A Fraud’, Plans Trading
Goldman Sachs has said Bitcoin “is not a fraud” as it unveiled plans to buy and sell cryptocurrency, the New York Times reported May 2.

In a move which sets the investment banking giant apart from its Wall Street competitors, Goldman will initially offer various contracts with Bitcoin exposure before rumoredly entering the trading arena.

Commenting on the decision, Rana Yared, an executive involved in creating the offerings, said the bank had been “inundated” with client requests.

“It resonates with us when a client says, ‘I want to hold Bitcoin or Bitcoin futures because I think it is an alternate store of value,’” she told the publication.

“...It is not a new risk that we don’t understand. It is just a heightened risk that we need to be extra aware of here.”

She added that Goldman “had concluded Bitcoin is not a fraud,” a poignant statement in an industry where competitor JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon’s infamous description of Bitcoin still resonates.

Nonetheless, even Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein publicly stated Bitcoin “is not for him” during its all-time price highs in December 2017, and Yared appeared quick to dispel any myths that the bank was a ‘Bitcoin believer.’

“I would not describe myself as a true believer who wakes up thinking Bitcoin will take over the world,” she added.
May-4-2018 04:54:38 AM
Up 33%: Bitcoin's Price Just Had Its Best Month of 2018
Bitcoin's price rose 33 percent against the U.S. dollar in April, making it the best month of 2018 for the world's largest cryptocurrency.

Data from CoinDesk's Bitcoin Price Index (BPI) shows that May began with bitcoin's price at the $9,244.32 mark - a 33 percent jump from its April 1 start of $6,926.02. This marks the greatest rise in bitcoin's price this year, and one of only two months where it rose at all within the period.

Bitcoin's price fell overall in January and March, and only rose 1.4 percent in February, according to BPI data.

Indeed, bitcoin fell by nearly a third in each of the negative months, dropping from $13,860 on January 1 to $10,166 on February 1, and even more drastically - from $10,309 to just below $7,000 - in March. While bitcoin has rallied this past month, it has yet to recover to the $10,000 mark, which it last fell below in mid-March.

That being said, these numbers hide the fact that bitcoin actually rose to past $17,000 in January before falling by nearly half to its February 1 level.

Similarly, bitcoin reached a low below $6,000 before recovering, as shown by the BPI. In other words, while it may have begun spending periods of time trading sideways, it remains volatile year-to-date.

Notably, bitcoin's transaction volume jumped by 93 percent month-over-month, while the number of off-chain transactions through exchanges jumped by a similar 95 percent. However, fees saw a similar jump, rising 90 percent in April, according to data collected by CoinDesk.

Bitcoin derivatives had a similarly positive month. Both the CBOE and CME saw their futures contracts trading volume spike this month, with CBOE in particular seeing more than 18,000 contracts traded in a single day on April 25
May-2-2018 08:26:38 AM