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SEC’s Senior Advisor for Digital Assets Valerie Szczepanik: Stablecoins May be Securities

The senior advisor for digital assets at the U.S. SEC reportedly noted that stablecoins could raise issues under securities laws.

Senior advisor for digital assets at the United States Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) Valerie Szczepanik reportedly noted that stablecoins could experience issues under current securities laws. Blockchain-related news website Decrypt reported her comments on March 16.

Szczepanik, also known as the Crypto Czar, was appointed to the new position of associate director of the Division of Corporation Finance and senior advisor for Digital Assets and Innovation for Division Director Bill Hinman in June of 2018.

When Szczepanik reportedly made the statement concerning securities at Austin’s SXSW conference on March 15, she also broke stablecoins into three categories.

One kind of stablecoins are the ones tied to real assets such as gold or real estate, and another type are the ones tied to fiat currency held in reserves, in Szczepanik’s classification. The third and last category uses market financial mechanisms to keep the price stable. Explaining the last kind, Szczepanik said:

“I’ve seen stablecoins that purport to control price through some kind of pricing mechanism, whether it’s tied to the issuance, creation or redemption of another type of digital asset tied to it, or whether it is controlled through supply and demand in some way to keep the price within a certain band.”

Szczepanik reportedly said that since a central party controls the price fluctuations over time, that last kind of stablecoins “might be getting into the land of securities.” According to her, if buyers are promised that somebody else will be holding or guaranteeing a profit or controlling the price, the token could be a security.

Ultimately, she explained, whether the asset is labeled as a stablecoin or anything else, the SEC will always subject projects to the same level of scrutiny. She noted:

“Not to sound cliche, but we’d much rather people come to us and ask for [permission], or come talk to us before they do something, rather than doing something and then coming in and asking for forgiveness.”

As Cointelegraph reported in December last year, the United States-based stablecoin project Basis has officially stated that it will close operations and refund investors after they confirmed that they couldn’t avoid a security classification for their secondary token.

More recently, SEC’s chairman Jay Clayton seemed to confirm that Ethereum (ETH) and cryptocurrencies like it are not securities under U.S. law.

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US SEC’s Finhub Launches Series of Meetups to With Crypto, Fintech Communities

The U.S. SEC’s Finhub will host a series of local peer-to-peer meetups across the country in a bid to engage more actively with the crypto and wider fintech community.

The Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology (Finhub) at the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will host a series of local peer-to-peer (p2p) meetups across the country. The initiative, which aims to engage more actively with the crypto and wider fintech community, was announced via the agency’s website on March 6.

As previously reported, Finhub was created in fall 2018 with the aim of facilitating the SEC’s engagement in fintech-related fields, including, among others, distributed ledger technology (DLT) and digital assets.

Finhub’s p2p meetups will reportedly allow innovators, developers, attorneys and entrepreneurs to engage in person with SEC staff in order to clarify specific or broad questions or requests which fall within the agency’s regulatory purview — federal securities laws.

The meetups will reportedly kick off in the San Francisco area on March 26, at the SEC’s regional office, before extending to other offices across the country.

Ahead of registering their interest in attending a meetup with the regulator, the public is asked to indicate their general sphere of interest, as well as the specific purpose of their requested meeting. Options for the former include “advisory services related to digital assets,” “digital asset trading platforms,” digital marketplace financing” and “funds related to digital assets.”

In indicating the specific purpose of the requested meeting, the public is offered a choice that includes “custody inquiry,” “determination of instrument as a “‘security’” and several registration enquiries for intermediaries, securities, funding portals or trading platforms.

Prospective attendees are also able to provide detailed information, research and any other supporting materials they wish to present before SEC staff. The agency notes that before contacting Finhub with a personal request for a meetup, many of the more common questions the agency receives regarding digital assets are broadly addressed online in its “Spotlight on Initial Coin Offerings and Digital Assets” resource.

As Cointelegraph has reported, Finhub is headed by Valerie A. Szczepanik, Senior Advisor for Digital Assets and Innovation and Associate Director at the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance — otherwise colloquially referred to as the agency’s “crypto czar.”

Ahead of this latest bid to make its activities more accessible to the crypto and fintech communities, the agency has recently been promoting its initial coin offerings guidance on on social media, with tweets from this February and the end of November 2018 inviting the public to learn five things it needs to know about the fundraising mechanism.

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Binance Labs and Argentina’s Government Partner to Support Blockchain Adoption in the Country

In a blog post a few hours ago, the team at Binance announced that the Government of Argentina will be supporting Binance Labs development efforts in the country. The collaboration is part of the blockchain and crypto revolution in the country.

Binance Labs has held several events and meetups in the country and Argentina is an integral part of their global expansion plans. Buenos Aires is this year’s regional hub for the Binance Labs Incubation program for Latin America. The program will begin its second season this month and has picked Argentina for its role in embracing blockchain and crypto in the region.

Government Grant of Up to $50,000

Argentina’s Ministry of Production and Labor has pledged to support Binance Labs and LatamEx with its Accelerator Program. The latter is offering a grant of up to $50,000 on every project Binance Labs invests in. This pledge is valid for up t0 10 projects per year. With this deal, the Argentinian government becomes a Binance Labs partner in blockchain investments in the country.

Ella Zhang, Head of Binance Labs, explained why Argentina is unique in furthering the adoption of blockchain technology.

Argentina is at the forefront of blockchain adoption and we’ve witnessed how it’s becoming home to some very passionate blockchain communities during our trip there.

Our mission at Binance Labs is to realize the full potential of blockchain technologies. To that end, we are very excited to support blockchain projects, entrepreneurs and developers through our Buenos Aires chapter, to advise and mentor them, to find product-market fit, and provide them with in-time access to global blockchain technology development to solve local problems.

Pablo Orlando, Founder & CEO of LatamEx and Founders Lab, also added that Latin America is at the forefront of blockchain adoption and real use cases of the technology. Argentina has become a hub for the best projects and entrepreneurs in the region. With the Binance Labs incubation program, such projects and talented individuals will have a chance to flourish.

More on Crypto and Blockchain Adoption in Argentina

The country of Argentina has accelerated adoption of crypto and blockchain as a way of working around its economy’s recession. The country has crypto ATMs and many businesses accepting cryptocurrency payments. One example of mainstream crypto adoption is the capability of topping up the country’s state public transport card, SUBE, using Bitcoin.

Recent Performance of BNB 

Further looking at the crypto markets, we find that Binance Coin (BNB) has had an amazing run in the past few days. The token is now valued at $15.37 after a recent peak of $15.56. BNB is now ranked 7th on Coinmarketcap.com ahead of Tether (USDT), Stellar (XLM), and Tron (TRX).

What are your thoughts on Binance Labs and the Argentinian government partnering to support blockchain projects in the country? Please let us know in the comment section below. 

Disclaimer: This article is not meant to give financial advice. Any additional opinion herein is purely the author’s and does not represent the opinion of Ethereum World News or any of its other writers. Please carry out your own research before investing in any of the numerous cryptocurrencies available. Thank you.

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BitTorrent Plans to Incentivize Over 1 Billion Users using BTT

On the first of this month, Justin Sun tweeted that BitTorrent and the Tron foundation plan on on-boarding 1 Billion users onto both ecosystems with additional partner support. His tweet making the announcement can be found below.

3 New Incentive Plans to BitTorrent Users, Partners and Clients

It is with the above announcement that Justin has added today that they have 3 new incentive plans available to BitTorrent and uTorrent users, partners who are supporting BTT and the clients using the BitTorrent protocol.

Justin had this to say about the new plans;

With our three new incentive programs, we aim to bring a new audience into the blockchain community and make this powerful technology accessible within products that people are using every day.

What we are building will benefit a 1 billion computer installed base, businesses and active TRON and BTT users.

Justin Sun also tweeted about the new incentive plans as can be seen below.

Additional Details to Come in the Coming Weeks

The team at BitTorrent did not reveal all information about the 3 plans but they promised to do so in the coming weeks. For existing BitTorrent users, the plan includes accelerating education efforts geared towards aiding them to better understand blockchain technology. They will also have access to the latest BitTorrent technology and Tron’s ecosystem.

The BTT token has been listed in over 30 exchanges and gathered support from leading wallet providers. It is with this progress that BitTorrent will offer a Partnership plan to all exchanges and wallets supporting BTT. With this plan, users of the partner platforms will receive BTT airdrops.

There will also be ecosystem incentives for clients who rely on the BitTorrent protocol so that their users can also partake in BTT. This incentive sheds light on BitTorrent’s principle of being Open Source.

Conclusion

Summing it up, BitTorrent and Tron foundation have announced 3 plans to on-board over 1 Billion users to both ecosystems by incentivizing them with BTT. However, we will have to wait a few more days for the full details from Justin Sun and the teams at BitTorrent and Tron.

What are your thoughts of the new plans to incentivize users of BitTorrent and uTorrent, partners of the project and BitTorrent clients using BTT? Please let us know what you think in the comment section below. 

Disclaimer: This article is not meant to give financial advice. Any additional opinion herein is purely the author’s and does not represent the opinion of Ethereum World News or any of its other writers. Please carry out your own research before investing in any of the numerous cryptocurrencies available. Thank you.

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Ex-IBM Chair: No Solution Yet Found to Bring Public Blockchains Under EU Privacy Laws

Sam Palmisano says he doesn’t know of a solution that has been found to make public blockchain networks compatible with European data privacy laws.

Sam Palmisano — retired IBM chairman and current chairman of United States nonprofit The Center for Global Enterprise — says he doesn’t know of a solution that has been found to make public blockchain networks compatible with European data privacy laws.

Palmisano made his remarks during a joint interview for Bloomberg Markets with David Kappos, partner at U.S. law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore, which was broadcast on the Bloomberg Technology channel on March 4.

Palmisano and Kappos focused on the interaction between blockchain innovation and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — a landmark European Union-wide legal framework for personal data privacy, which took effect in May 2018.

Kappos recently co-authored a research paper — in conjunction with multinational law firm Slaughter and May and The Digital Supply Chain Institute — that outlines four guiding principles for establishing GDPR-compliant blockchains.

High-profile GDPR principles such as the right to be forgotten and the other far-reaching requirements the legislation places upon EU firms have sparked debate as to whether blockchain networks — which are notably immutable, and thus do not erase data — can be brought into line with the new framework.

Palmisano, who spent 10 years in his former role as chair of IBM, said that certain private, permissioned blockchains — with adequate governance frameworks in place — can work well under GDPR, and even in some cases help firms with compliance, but that this does not currently hold for public networks. He stated:

“With the public case, it is more complicated because of the nature of the information out there and how it’s being shared […] I do know of research that’s going on to address the public market, however […] I don’t know of a solution that’s been found.”

While Palmisano affirmed the importance of a global policy shift toward tackling data protection, Kappos noted that Europe is currently in the lead in terms of legislating for digital privacy and the U.S. has “nothing that is on par with the EU’s muscular GDPR [initiative].”

Flouting GDPR courts the risk of heavy fines, as Kappos emphasized. The use of a governance framework, he noted, can significantly help blockchain users to ensure compliance:

“A network of companies can […] form a joint venture that describes how they’ll manage data, what they’ll put and won’t put on the blockchain, and how they’ll forget people when they want to be forgotten.”

In November 2018, research conducted by Queen Mary University of London and the University of Cambridge similarly pointed to the prospective compatibility of private blockchains with GDPR.

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Bandwagon: Utah Senate Considers Blockchain Following Landmark Wyoming Legislation

Utah legislators are now considering blockchain treatment in a bill that goes before the state senate on Mar. 4

Following on the heels of a series of landmark bills passed by the state of Wyoming, which is now widely recognized as the first and only U.S. state to provide a comprehensive framework for blockchain technology, Utah is looking to get in on the action.

The bill being proposed today specifically centers on the definition of the technology, thereby providing a basis for potential incentives and special treatment that could be doled out by the state. Known as the “Blockchain Technology Act,” the bill was first presented by Republican Senator Daniel Hemmert on Feb. 25. If passed, the new legislation will exempt blockchain businesses from money transmitter compliance obligations, thereby easing the process of development in the state.

The ultimate goal for Wyoming, Utah and other states that follow suit is promoting an atmosphere of blockchain acceptance. According to one forecast published last November, the market for blockchain in global retail will increase twenty-nine fold over the next five years, giving some indication of the anticipation for the industry. States that can strike a balance now of easy to follow regulation are opening the door for both a flood of new employment and economic generation.

The specifics of the “Blockchain Technology Act,” also classified as Bill 0213, are as follows:

“This bill […] defines and clarifies terms related to blockchain technology [and] exempts a person who facilitates the creation, exchange, or sale of certain blockchain technology-related products from Title 7, Chapter 25, [of the] Money Transmitter Act,” the text of the bill reads.

State senator Hemmert also intends to create a dedicated task force focused on exploring blockchain, in addition to improving the atmosphere for blockchain firms. As apart of his proposal, the taskforce will administer pilot projects, with the goal of reporting their findings back to the state by the end of the year.

According to the bill,

“On or before November 30, 2019, the task force shall provide a report on the task force’s findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation.”

Compared to the existing framework in New York–through its convoluted and maligned BitLicense program–alternative locations are beginning to appear as the superior choice for blockchain based firm development. Wyoming legislators, who have already enacted 13 blockchain-enabling laws, are trailblazing the space of enticing developers and companies to operate in their state. Wyoming has become so progressive on the industry of blockchain that it has started referring to itself as the “Delaware of Digital Asset Law,” making a play on Delaware’s leading interest in corporate law.

More and more government regulators and politicians are coming to recognize the potential for blockchain development. While the narrative around the industry years ago may have centered on criminal activity, the conversation is moving towards fostering growth as opposed to stifling innovation. Should Wyoming’s position as the leader in blockchain law prove fortuitous for the state, it won’t be long before the series of legislation becomes popular across the country.

 

Title image courtesy of beatingbetting.co.uk

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Utah Senate to Debate Blockchain Task Force Creation and Business Incentives

State senators have the option to remove some blockchain businesses from money transmitter requirements.

Utah became the latest United States state to consider special treatment for blockchain in a bill set to be heard today, March 4, concerning the definition of the technology.

First presented by Republican senator Daniel Hemmert on Feb. 25, the “Blockchain Technology Act,” also known as Bill 0213, aims to exclude blockchain businesses from money transmitter compliance obligations.

“This bill […] defines and clarifies terms related to blockchain technology [and] exempts a person who facilitates the creation, exchange, or sale of certain blockchain technology-related products from Title 7, Chapter 25, [of the] Money Transmitter Act,” the text of the bill reads.

The plans are currently before the Senate Transportation, Public Utilities, Energy, and Technology Committee.

In addition to altering the law regarding blockchain firms, Hemmert also wishes to create a dedicated task force focusing on the technology, including administering pilot projects, which would report back to government before the end of the year.

“On or before November 30, 2019, the task force shall provide a report on the task force’s findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation,” the bill continues.

Should it gain traction, Hemmert’s bill would take Utah over to the more progressive side of U.S. local regulatory treatment of cryptocurrency issues, similar to the stance recently adopted by Wyoming.

By contrast, jurisdictions such as North Carolina and New York — the latter in the form of the controversial BitLicense — have long mandated strict licensing procedures for blockchain- and crypto-related businesses.

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XPhone by Pundi X (NPXS) Allows You To Switch Between Blockchain and Android

Before fully migrating to a completely new technology, consumers usually love the option of switching to the old way of doing things. Part of it is driven by habit and the other by nostalgia. The XPhone by Pundi X (NPXS) offers users the option of switching between the phones native blockchain and the Android 9.0 operating system. This function will be made using the ‘X’ button on the device.

A prototype of the phone was first unveiled to the world last October when it was used to make the first phone call made on the blockchain. The new improved XPhone was showcased at MWC Barcelona that was held from the 25th to the 28th of February.

Each Phone is a Node

The device comes with the option of using the Function X blockchain developed by the team at Pundi X for calling and messaging. Users can also turn off this option and revert to regular Android and the usage of centralized carriers. Every XPhone is also a node on the network and contributes to the operation of the blockchain network.

Zac Cheah, founder and CEO of Pundi X, explained how the blockchain phone will return data control back to the users and creators.

What this all means is that data control can and must be given back to users.

Telecommunications and Internet companies have derived tremendous value from controlling data. By decentralizing apps, we can put this data onto a smart contract, effectively giving control back to creators and to users.

Much of what we call peer-to-peer or ‘decentralized’ services continue to be built upon centralized networks. We are changing that.

Specifications of the XPhone

The XPhone will be released later on this year and will come standard with the following features.

  • 5.65” inch screen
  • Fingerprint sensor on the side
  • 6 GB of RAM
  • 128 GB ROM
  • Qualcomm® SnapdragonTM 660 Mobile Platform
  • 16 megapixel front camera and 48 megapixel rear camera
  • 3,500 mAH Battery
  • Retail price of US$599

What are your thoughts on the XPhone? Will the ‘X’ button for switching from blockchain to Android attract more users? Please let us know in the comment section below. 

[Feature image of the XPhone courtesy of Pundi X]

Disclaimer: This article is not meant to give financial advice. Any additional opinion herein is purely the author’s and does not represent the opinion of Ethereum World News or any of its other writers. Please carry out your own research before investing in any of the numerous cryptocurrencies available. Thank you.

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Tron (TRX) Ranked 2nd in China’s Latest Blockchain Rankings

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology through its Center for Information and Industry Development (CCID), has released its 10th monthly crypto project rankings this past Tuesday, February 26th. A total of 35 projects were evaluated by the CCID this month of which EOS, Tron (TRX) and Ethereum (ETH) made the top three respectively. For Tron, this was the first time the project was ranked on the list by the CCID.

All projects are judged using three criteria: basic-technology, applicability and creativity. Individual scores in each category are then added in a weighted ‘total index’ that is used to rank the blockchain projects.

Tron’s Mainnet Upgrade to Version 3.5 Happening Today

Earlier today, Justin Sun reminded the Tron community that the network will be upgraded to version 3.5 today the 28th of February.

The network upgrade plans on implementing the following 4 changes.

  1. Addition of multi-signature features and account management
  2. Dynamic energy adjustment to real-time network performance
  3. 50% up performance and res usage
  4. Better Virtual Machine safety

More on the upgrade can be found on Github.com.

Upgrade is Tailor-Made for BitGo’s Institutional Clients

Of particular importance is the addition of multi-signature and account management features on the Tron network. This additional changes will fit right in with the services provided by Tron’s newest partner, BitGo. The latter is a leader in digital asset security, compliance and custody solutions that are focused on catering for the needs of Institutional clients. BitGo is the largest Bitcoin processor with over $15 Billion in crypto transactions per month. The firm also has over 300 clients in over 50 countries worldwide.

It is with this background that BitGo announced that it will be adding TRX support later this year. This then prompted the Tron foundation to add multi-signature and account management features on the network.

What are your thoughts on Tron making its debut at number 2 on the CCID’s blockchain rankings? Does this mean that Tron is better than its competitors such as Ethereum and NEO? Please let us know in the comment section below. 

[Feature image courtesy of BitGo.com]

Disclaimer: This article is not meant to give financial advice. Any additional opinion herein is purely the author’s and does not represent the opinion of Ethereum World News or any of its other writers. Please carry out your own research before investing in any of the numerous cryptocurrencies available. Thank you.

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Electroneum Launches $80 Smartphone that Rewards Users with ETN

News reaching Ethereum World News indicate that the team at Electroneum have released a new smartphone that rewards users with ETN and has a pocket friendly price tag of $80. The device, dubbed the M1, incorporates the project’s cloud mining technology and enables users to earn cryptocurrency through a simple app. Through the phone, Electroneum is using the power of the blockchain to unlock the global economy for millions of people in the developing world.

Below is a tweet by the team also announcing the launch of the smartphone.

Earn $3 Worth of ETN Per Month

The smartphone’s app-based cloud mining system makes ETN more accessible to users. The device has the potential to earn owners up to $3 a month. The ETN earned can be used to pay for services such as mobile top ups (airtime and data connection) and other services such as online shopping.

Electroneum CEO and founder, Richard Ells, explained how the M1 was the result of having the best working on developing of the phone.

With our experience in tech, we were able to gather a world-class team consisting of telecommunications, manufacturing, emerging area mobile-operators, product design and marketing specialists, all helping to make this utopian vision of ours a reality.

Without the broad range of talent and expertise, we could never have imagined the possibility of making a product of this calibre accessible for anyone in the world, and we are extremely proud of the result.

The M1 has the following standard features:

  • Android 8.1 Go Edition
  • 8GB Internal storage that is expandable to 32GB
  • 4.5″ touchscreen
  • 4G connectivity
  • Dual SIM
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • GPS
  • Front (2 MP) and Rear (5MP) cameras
  • 1,600 mAh Battery capacity
  • 1 Year warranty

Weiss Ratings Opinion of the Phone

However, not everyone is convinced about the capabilities of the new M1 smartphone by Electroneum. In a recent tweet, the team at Weiss Ratings was very doubtful that the mining capabilities of the phone were actually functional. The tweet stated the following.

#Blockchain startup #Electroneum launches a cheap Android Smartphone that “mines” #crypto: It costs $80 and they claim it can mine up to $3 per month worth of #ETN, Electroneum’s native token. Fake mining from Electroneum.

What are your thoughts on the M1 smartphone by Electroneum? Will it ease crypto adoption across the globe? Please let us know in the comment section below. 

[M1 Smartphone image courtesy of Electroneum.com]

Disclaimer: This article is not meant to give financial advice. Any additional opinion herein is purely the author’s and does not represent the opinion of Ethereum World News or any of its other writers. Please carry out your own research before investing in any of the numerous cryptocurrencies available. Thank you

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