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Silvergate Bank Onboarded 59 New Crypto Customers in Q4 2018

Major U.S.-based bank Silvergate added 59 new crypto customers in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Crypto-supportive Silvergate Bank has signed on a slew of new cryptocurrency customers in the fourth quarter on 2018, according to a recent filing with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The filing reveals that as of Dec. 31, 2018, Silvergate had 542 digital currency-related clients including cryptocurrency exchanges and miners, custodians and global investors, among others. This marks an increase of 59 crypto-related customers since a previous filing in September 2018.

By Dec. 31, 232 cryptocurrency customers were purportedly in various stages of the bank’s customer onboarding process, including regulatory compliance.

The bank further says that it believes that acceptance of digital currency by traditional financial institutions will continue to grow, highlighting the following data:

“Currently, there are over 300 institutional investment funds with aggregate estimated assets under management of between approximately $7.5 billion to $10 billion. Over $8.3 billion has been invested in digital currency-related projects, excluding initial coin offering funding, since December 31, 2013. Approximately $1.3 billion in venture funding was raised in the digital currency and blockchain market in the 12 months ended June 30, 2018, which is the most recent date such information is available.”

Per the document, in the fourth quarter of 2018 the bank saw two exchanges, 33 companies, and 24 investors among its new clients, including software developers, cryptocurrency miners, and service providers.

Throughout the whole year, Silvergate’s deposits derived from cryptocurrency customers reportedly increased by $150.4 million, or around 11.4 percent. Digital currency investors’ deposits saw a growth by $4.8 million to $577.5 million, while other startups’ balances increased by $46.4 million, reaching $273.9 million.

Last February, the Digital Currency Group (DCG), a cryptocurrency venture capital firm, announced that they had invested in the Silvergate Capital Corporation, which contains the Silvergate Bank. As the Corporation later revealed on its website:

“Proceeds from this placement will support further growth in the Bank’s nationwide fintech deposit initiative and its business banking and residential lending activities.”

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Sanctions? What Sanctions? North Korea Finding A Window in Crypto

Even in the face of US and UN imposed sanctions, North Korea is resolute and effective in rendering international embargoes useless. Recent chronicles from the US Panel of Experts now corroborate findings of what cyber experts, foreign relations specialists and other observers that the isolated country have all along been using their formidable cyber prowess to by-pass sanctions and raise money to fund their nuclear operations.

Not only do the country’s operators working in cohort with
the country’s intelligence arm, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, said to be
actively siphoning funds from closed accounts in Europe to bank accounts
throughout Asia via the previously flagged Glocom and the Malaysia-Korea
Partners Group of Companies (MKP). The shell company’s illicit activities
including “ongoing use of overseas
companies and individuals to obfuscate income-generating activities for the
regime of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
” have been highlighted
in previous Panel of Expert reports.

However, what is striking is the country’s decision to by-pass financial sanctions via crypto that is causing jitters. Expected to increase not only in frequency and sophistication, it has been authoritatively established that the country has been actively sponsoring hacks on different exchanges and through their cyber activities carried out by elite units of DPRK military, they have amassed an estimated $881 million after infiltrating and stealing funds crypto exchanges. Of this staggering amount, $571 million can be directly linked to the state sponsored hacker group, Lazarus. 

Apparently, Pyongyang is resorting to crypto as a tactic of
circumventing sanctions thanks to the pseudo or anonymous nature of digital
assets that makes it near impossible for internet sleuths to trail losses. It
is after they hack and steal funds that the country through its agents hire
individuals to launder assets via individual wallets or by employing mixing
services in a bid to obtain sanction free USD. Aside from launching attacks on
the Bank of Bangladeshi hack where $81 million were lost and consequently
laundered through multiple bank accounts, remittance services and casino
junkets, most of these funds were from Coincheck when the exchange reported
losses exceeding $500 million.

“Cyberspace is used by the DPRK as an asymmetric means to carry out illicit and undercover operations in the field of cybercrime and sanctions evasion. These operations aim to acquire funds through a variety of measures in order to circumvent the sanctions.”

Even with all evidence suggesting a well-orchestrated and deep-set
activities of the regime bent towards launching attacks on financial platforms
across the world, representatives of the DPKK persistently deny their
involvement in any form of economic espionage or devastating hacks.

The post Sanctions? What Sanctions? North Korea Finding A Window in Crypto appeared first on Ethereum World News.

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Top Crypto Exchange Binance Adds Ripple-Based Trading Pairs in New Expansion

Trading of Ripple with Tron and Zcoin with XRP as the base currency should go live today.

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance will open trading of two pairs using Ripple (XRP) as the quote currency, a blog post confirmed Dec. 24.

Set to launch the same day, the TRX/XRP (Tron) and XZC/XRP (Zcoin) pairs represent the first time for Binance to use XRP as the base currency.

As part of the update, developers will rename the current Ethereum (ETH) markets to “ALTS,” with CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) explaining that a lack of user interface space necessitated the move.

“We will be adding a couple trading pairs with XRP as the quote currency shortly,” CZ had confirmed on Twitter Sunday.

Binance continues to expand its token offering in Q4, focusing heavily on fiat-pegged stablecoins. Earlier this month, developers launched a subsequently delayed range of pairs using USD-pegged stablecoin asset TrueUSD (TUSD) as the quote currency.

Commenting on the future token pair listing policy, Zhao said assets whose developers had contributed to Binance’s Blockchain Charity Foundation would receive more favorable consideration.

“We will prioritize adding more pairs for the projects that have donated to our charity at this (even thought (sic) we never mentioned this during our fund raising (sic) efforts),” he added.

XRP jumped almost 20 percent on the news, taking XRP/USD to $0.44 at press time, a one-month high.

As of press time, Binance itself is the largest crypto exchange in the world by adjusted daily trade volume, seeing over $1.2 billion in trades over the last 24 hours.

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Australian Regulator Hints at Increased Crypto Exchange and ICO Scrutiny

Cryptocurrency exchanges and ICO operators in Australia form a focus of attention for watchdog the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Australian regulator the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has revealed plans to increase scrutiny of cryptocurrency exchanges and Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) in its ‘Corporate Plan’ published this week.

ASIC, which acts as a supervisory organ for financial market operators, highlighted the exchange sector as an area of priority through 2022.

Specifically, the body plans to ensure any “threats of harm” from the nascent industry are mitigated as part of its regulatory remit.

“Potential harms from technology driven by the growing digital environment and structural changes in financial services and markets,” it announced in the Plan, continuing:

“We will continue to focus on monitoring threats of harm from emerging products (e.g. ICOs and crypto currencies), cyber resilience, the adequate management of technological solutions by firms and markets, and misconduct that is facilitated by or through digital and/or cyber-based mechanisms.”

In the near term meanwhile, ASIC wants to closely eye ICOs in particular, again with the aim of ensuring compliant behavior.

“Monitoring emerging products, such as ICOs, and intervening where there is poor behaviour and potential harm to consumers and investors,” the report outlines describing one of its 2018-19 “projects.”

A second area of focus for the coming year, ASIC adds, will be “developing our approach for applying the principles for regulating market infrastructure providers to crypto exchanges.”

The release comes the same week as Australia saw its first crypto exchange to raise funds via an ICO respond to multiple enquiries from fellow securities regulator the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) over its own plans.

Amid a regulatory environment that has often attracted controversy, Byte Power Group – the company planning to launch a crypto exchange – insisted it met the various requirements to proceed with its token sale, having sought ongoing legal advice.

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Coinbase Expands UK Offering With Four GBP Altcoin Pairs

U.S. cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase will open trading of four more cryptocurrencies for U.K. pound sterling (GBP) Friday, a blog post confirmed Wednesday, September 5.

Following a deal with UK bank Barclays to open access to the country’s Faster Payments network in March, residents will now be able to trade altcoins Ethereum (ETH), Ethereum Classic (ETC), Litecoin (LTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) for GBP, in addition to the existing Bitcoin (BTC).

“With support for UK domestic bank transfers in GBP via the Faster Payments Scheme, it is now significantly easier, faster and cheaper for UK customers to trade cryptocurrencies on the Coinbase platform,” the post confirms.

Coinbase became the first cryptocurrency exchange to use Faster Payments through the Barclays deal, resulting in account deposits and withdrawals attracting significantly lower fees and faster processing times.

From 9AM BST September 7, a gradual switch-on will see full trading ability for all pairs slowly introduced, subject to monitoring of each orderbook, the exchange says.

The UK is one of the European targets of expansion among major cryptocurrency platform operators, with Chinese heavyweight Huobi opening a dedicated London office in June.

“London was selected as the first office in Europe, due to its preeminence as a global financial center and the largest cryptocurrency trading centre in the region,” executives wrote at the time.

More recently, UK regulators have issued repeated warnings over scam companies misleading consumers by stealing various identity data from operators that hold a legitimate licence from UK regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

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Australian Firm Aiming for $15 Mln ICO for Crypto Exchange Addresses Regulatory Scrutiny

Byte Power Group (BPG), the Australian company aiming to launch the country’s first cryptocurrency exchange using an ICO, responded to regulatory pressure with fresh information about its plans Wednesday, September 5.

In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), BPG addressed concerns the regulator raised last month as details of the fundraising became public.

BPG has since begun selling its BPX tokens, aiming to raise $15 million to build the exchange, whereupon users will be able to use the tokens to pay fees in a manner similar to that of fellow exchange Binance.

On August 1, the ASX sent correspondence to executives with queries on various aspects of its future operations, including whether or not BPX tokens constituted securities under Australian law.

Based on “legal advice” it obtained, BPG replied Wednesday that the tokens “are not financial products.” In a statement addressing a total of 17 queries, the company writes,

“The offer of BPX tokens does not constitute an offer to issue one or more securities […] derivatives or any other kind of financial product.”

The responses also included acknowledgment of BPG’s requirement to register as a reporting authority with the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), as well as adopt an anti-money laundering (AML) framework and adhere to know-your-customer (KYC) statutes.

Australia has traditionally been a problematic jurisdiction for cryptocurrency businesses due to a turbulent regulatory landscape, which many consider unfairly biased against their interests in the terms of taxation.

Nonetheless, this year has seen various international exchange operators invest in the domestic market, including China’s Huobi in July.

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Crypto Wallet Abra Announces Direct Transactions From EU Banks in SEPA

Global crypto wallet Abra has enabled the direct purchase and sale of cryptocurrencies for European bank accounts, according to a press-release published by PR Newswire Tuesday, September 4.

Abra, which offers 28 cryptocurrencies for consumers worldwide, will now support Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) bank accounts. As the company’s official Twitter states, the launch of in-app European bank purchases of digital currency has already started.

Customers can now transfer euros or several other national currencies directly to their wallet which can, in turn, can be converted into the 28 cryptocurrencies offered by Abra including Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and Ripple (XRP).

Bill Barhydt, founder and CEO of Abra, further explained the innovation:

“With users from over 70 countries globally, and a greater demand for the ability to invest in cryptocurrencies from any bank account, it is really important to give investors the opportunity to fund their Abra wallet directly from any bank account.”

Along with backing SEPA bank accounts, Abra has announced three new coins recently added to the wallet: Cardano (ADA), Basic Attention Token (BAT), and Tron (TRX).

Until today’s announcement, the Abra wallet could only be funded by U.S. bank and wire transfers in the United States, along with American Express, Visa, and MasterCard debit and credit cards around the world.

The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) is a payment system that simplifies bank transfers in the EU. Currently, it includes 28 EU members, together with the four member states of the European Free Trade Association (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland), and Andorra, Monaco, and San Marino.

As Cointelegraph reported back in March 2018, major U.S. crypto wallet and exchange Coinbase received an e-money license from the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to conduct its fiat activities in Great Britain, as well as in the 23 countries within the European Union. It was not immediately clear if Coinbase could keep the EU license in the future due to Brexit.

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Philippines to Publish Final ICO Regulation, Draft Crypto Exchange Rules Within Two Weeks

Regulators in the Philippines plan to reveal draft cryptocurrency regulation by the middle of this month, local media outlet The Manila Times reported Monday, September 3.

Citing Ephyro Luis Amatong, chairman of the country’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) speaking to reporters, The Manila Times confirmed cryptocurrency exchanges could soon be considered as traditional “trading platforms.”

“We see the need to regulate them as trading platforms,” Amatong explained.

The news comes following a similar commitment from Filipino lawmakers to formalize the regulatory environment for Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) and their issuers.

As Cointelegraph reported last month, the Philippine SEC had opened its draft rules on the crypto sector to public feedback, the deadline for proposals being August 31. A final version of those rules should appear next week, shortly before the draft exchange proposals, according to The Manila Times.

The Philippine SEC also revealed it had been working in tandem with the central bank, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), in order to establish what Amatong terms “cooperative oversight.”

“We already discussed the matter with the BSP since the BSP is also interested and we are also interested,” he continued, adding:

“The discussion … [involves] joint cooperative oversight over (cryptocurrency exchanges) engaged in trading.”

Such an approach is reminiscent of that taken in Japan, where regulators continue to tighten requirements on exchanges to avoid a repeat of a serious hack in January this year.

The Philippine government had previously created a fintech hub in the Cagayan Economic Zone in April of this year, allowing blockchain and crypto-related firms to operate legally in the zone.