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US Treasury Secretary Shares Trump’s Concerns on Crypto, Stresses Compliance

The United States Treasury Secretary echoed President Trumps’ recent tweets on crypto as a speculative asset largely used to fuel illegal activity.

United States Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin shares President Donald Trump’s concerns on the use of cryptocurrency to finance illicit activity, and stresses the role of enforcing FinCEN regulations with respect to crypto-dealing organizations. Mnuchin made his remarks at a press conference on July 15.

Mnuchin called the use of cryptocurrencies to fund illicit activity a national security issue, saying that billions of dollars have been used for this purpose:

“Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have been exploited to support billions of dollars of illicit activity, like cybercrime, tax evasion, extortion, randomware, illicit drugs, human trafficking … This is indeed a national security issue.”

In response to a question from the press, Mnuchin further commented on the ostensible role of crypto as a means to finance crime, saying:

“I think to a large extent, these cryptocurrencies have been dominated by illicit activities and speculation.”

Secretary Mnuchin also echoed the Presidents’ latest Twitter posts on cryptocurrencies, saying: “As the President has said: ‘Bitcoin is highly volatile and based on thin air’” and “Treasury takes very seriously the role of the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency.”

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, President Trump tweeted out a series of anti-crypto and anti-Bitcoin remarks on July 12, following his “Social Media Summit” for conservative personalities. Trump remarked that the value of crypto is “highly volatile and based on thin air” and that they can “facilitate unlawful behavior.”

According to Mnuchin, the Treasury has stressed — to Facebook and Bitcoin (BTC) users among others — that digital financial services are bound by the same Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism policies as traditional institutions such as banks.

Additionally, he said that any crypto transmitters must comply with the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and register with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN): a bureau of the Treasury. FinCEN is the federal regulator that implements the BSA in practice, and has authority over all money service transmitters — including cryptocurrency projects such as Libra.

Mnuchin also established the Financial Stability Oversight Council’s Working Group on Digital Assets, which reportedly includes key regulatory players such as the SEC, CFTC, and the Fed in addition to FinCEN. The idea of this group is to mitigate purported regulatory risks associated with cryptocurrencies.

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Ex-PBoC Governor: China Must Take Precautions Against Libra Trend

The former People’s Bank of China governor says “China should take precautions” against the trend represented by Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency.

The former governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) says “China should take precautions” against the trend represented by Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency.

Twitter-based Chinese crypto news source CnLedger reported on Xiaochuan Zhou’s remarks on July 9.

Zhou notably served as PBoC governor between 2013 and 2018, a period which saw Beijing pursue its notorious onslaught of anti-crypto regulations — including the historic blanket criminalization of initial coin offerings (ICOs) and exchange crackdown.

CnLedger reports that Zhou characterized Libra as representative of the global trend in cryptocurrencies — singling out its stablecoin-like properties and ambitions to tackle the pain point of cross-border remittances in emerging economies. 

Equally representative, per Zhou, is the fact that the token will still face challenges such as anti-money-laundering compliance and fund custody. 

Contextualizing this trend more broadly, Zhou reportedly claimed that “people valuing Libra is inseparable from the global dollarization trend,” and that the imperative for China is to maintain a strong monetary status, take precautions and pursue rigorous policy research.

The former governor further predicted, in CnLedger’s summary, that:

“In future there may emerge a more internationalized, globalized currency, a currency so strong that will cause major currencies to establish exchange relations with it. It may not necessarily be Libra, but there will be more institutions and people try creating it.”

As previously reported, Beijing’s perception that the cornerstone principles of the crypto revolution — disintermediation and the frictionless circulation of value — will undercut its strict capital controls and economic strategy has translated into a series of attempts to insulate both its domestic financial system and individual investors from the global crypto space.

The current deputy PBoC governor, Pan Gongsheng, recently characterized Security Token Offerings (STOs) as an “illegal” financing activity similar to ICOs, claiming that both remain rampant in mainland China — notwithstanding the authorities’ ever-more-adversarial stance.

The United States Congress has meanwhile demanded hearings on Facebook’s forthcoming Libra, and requested that Facebook and its partners impose an official moratorium on Libra development until its concerns are examined and addressed.

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Steve Forbes Tells Zuckerberg: Use Gold to Back Libra, Call It the ‘Mark’

Steve Forbes claimed that gold backing is the basic condition for Libra to become “one of history’s truly seminal creations.”

Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media, published on June 25 an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg, advising to back Facebook’s cryptocurrency Libra with gold.

In the letter, Forbes strongly encouraged Facebook’s crypto initiative, emphasizing Libra’s potential to become one of the greatest inventions in the world, which eventually “could replace the U.S. dollar as the global currency.”

At the same time, to become “one of history’s truly seminal creations,” Libra has to be backed by gold as a basic condition, Forbes argued in the letter, opposing it to the current Facebook’s plan to back the coin by a basket of currencies.

The major American publishing exec explained that yellow metal would fit this function best in Libra’s mission to provide a “truly stable cryptocurrency.” Forbes wrote:

“For a variety of reasons gold holds its intrinsic value better than anything else. It’s like a measuring rod. It no more restricts the money supply than the 12 inches in a foot restricts the size of a building you might wish to construct. All it means is that the Libra will have what no other currency has today: a fixed value.”

According to Forbes, Libra’s “fixture” will the actual thing that will make it the “most desirable medium of exchange around the globe,” since it can be used in day-to-day transactions, as well as in long-term investing.

In his message, Forbes has also warned Zuckerberg that Libra’s consultants will most likely be criticizing the gold-backing idea, still arguing that it would “actually be an advantage” as it will keep away “well-capitalized imitators.”

Concluding his letter, Forbes eventually urged Zuckerberg to consider changing Libra’s name to the “Mark,” referencing the bad luck history of the “Libra” term. Specifically, he reminded that the “Libra” was used to refer to a measure of the weight from the destroyed Roman Empire. On the other hand, the Mark of the German Empire, which was abandoned for the euro 20 years ago and now is “up for grabs,” notes Forbes. 

Meanwhile, in a recent conversation with Harvard Professor Cass Sunstein, Zuckerberg stressed the collaborative nature of Libra, saying that the association behind the project will “hopefully” grow up to 100 founding partners from the current 27 companies, including Visa and Uber.

According to a report by The New Yorker, major American banking institutions including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Fidelity have denied to join Libra association so far.

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Goldman Sachs ‘Looking at Potential’ of Creating Virtual Currency, CEO Reveals

Goldman Sachs chief executive David Solomon says he believes global payment systems are heading in the direction of stablecoins.

Goldman Sachs is performing “extensive research” on tokenization, the group’s chief executive told France’s Les Echos newspaper on June 27.

David Solomon said he believes global payment systems are heading in the direction of stablecoins cryptocurrencies pegged to fiat assets such as the U.S. dollar.

Although he stopped short of confirming whether Goldman Sachs has had discussions with Facebook about its upcoming libra cryptocurrency and Calibra wallet, Solomon said his corporation finds the concept “interesting.”

When asked whether Goldman Sachs will follow JPMorgan Chase in launching its own virtual currency, Solomon said:

“Assume that all major financial institutions around the world are looking at the potential of tokenization, stablecoins and frictionless payments.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Solomon predicted that regulations will change in response to virtual currencies — but said he doesn’t think new entrants in the cryptosphere will force banks to close. He added:

“Admittedly, they will have to evolve, because the trades linked to the payment flows will become less profitable. But there are many other reasons why banks must remain innovative, otherwise they will disappear.”

Solomon also suggested that tech giants such as Facebook would like to avoid the regulatory constraints that banks face, making it more likely that they would try to enter into partnerships than become financial institutions themselves.

Earlier this week, reports suggested that JPMorgan Chase is set to begin piloting its own cryptocurrency by the end of this year.

Back in April, Solomon categorically denied that Goldman Sachs ever had plans to open a crypto trading desk during a hearing before the United States House of Representatives Financial Services Committee.

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Brazilian Exchanges to Integrate the Real-T, a Stablecoin Pegged to the Real

Cryptocurrency exchanges in Brazil will purportedly be among the first platforms to offer a stablecoin pegged one-to-one with the Brazilian real.

Brazilian cryptocurrency exchanges are rolling out support for a stablecoin, according to a report by Cointelegraph Brasil on June 26.

Brazilian platforms including PagCripto, Nox Trading, 3xBit, and Bitcambio, are reportedly slated to be the next adopters to issue this new stablecoin — pegged one-to-one with the Brazilian real —  Real-T (REALT).

As explained in its whitepaper, the “Real-T Token” is an Ethereum-based ERC-20 stablecoin that is “strictly pegged” to BRL. The paper claims that the company behind the token, Real-T Tecnologia S.A., will publicly share its bank statement to provide evidence for full backing of Real-T in fiat money.

The paper also notes that most stablecoins are currently pegged to the U.S. dollar — including Tether (USDT), Gemini Dollar (GUSD), and USD Coin (USDC) — whereas the Real-T would purportedly be the first stablecoin for the real.

REALT was original launched on the exchange CBX on May 10. According to this announcement, REALT is available for deposit and withdraw, as well as for trade with USDT.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, the Department of Federal Revenue of Brazil (RFB) has announced new regulatory policies for crypto exchanges, which are to be implemented in September. 

Exchanges are now reportedly required to inform the RFB on user transactions in order to guard against tax fraud. The RFB also specified that exchanges based outside of Brazil must disclose transaction data when its monthly value surpasses $7,750.

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Coinbase Pro Announces Support for Chainlink Token

Coinbase’s professional offering Coinbase Pro is rolling out support for Chainlink tokens.

Major cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Pro has added support for Chainlink, according to a blog post on June 26.

Coinbase has listed two trading pairs for the token of smart contract platform Chainlink (LINK) on its professional trading platform.

LINK will be available to trade with the U.S. dollar (LINK/USD) and with ether (ETH) (LINK/ETH). The post says that the token will be available in all its covered jurisdictions except for the state of New York

According to the announcement, Coinbase Pro will roll out options for LINK in four steps. The four steps are (1) transfer-only, (2) post-only, (3) limit-only, and (4) full trading. For the first three options, respectively, users can put LINK in their Coinbase Pro accounts, post limit orders, and wait to receive order matches.

The announcement also states that phase updates will be announced via Twitter. At press time, Coinbase Pro has only announced the beginning of the transfer-only phase. 

As per the press release, LINK is an ERC-20 token native to the Chainlink decentralized oracle network. According to Chainlink’s whitepaper, LINK is the token used for payments in Ethereum smart contracts backed on Chainlink:

“In order for a smart contract on networks like Ethereum to use a ChainLink node, they will need to pay their chosen ChainLink Node Operator using LINK tokens, with prices being set by the node operator based on demand for the off-chain resource their ChainLink provides, and the supply of other similar resources.”

The Chainlink network reportedly supports Ethereum smart contracts that rely on inputs from external data sources, APIs, and payment systems. As per the Chainlink website:

“By allowing multiple Chainlinks to evaluate the same data before it becomes a trigger, we eliminate any one point of failure, and maintain the overall value of a smart contract that is highly secure, reliable, and trustworthy.”

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Coinbase Pro increased its fees and announced a different market structure for the platform in March.

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CNBC Host Joe ‘Squawk’ Becomes an Unlikely Hero for Bitcoin

CNBC host Joe Kernen has been praised by bitcoin advocates for claiming that libra isn’t a cryptocurrency because of how it is pegged to fiat currencies.

CNBC’s Joe Kernen claims he is being treated “like a god” on Twitter following a June 19 interview on Squawk Box where he questioned whether Facebook’s libra is a cryptocurrency.

In the clip, posted by a bitcoin (BTC) advocate, Kernen said libra “doesn’t excite me at all” and argued that blockchain networks used by major coins add inherent value. Describing the libra, he added:

“This is just based on the dollar. I don’t understand it — is it called a cryptocurrency? Well it’s not.”

Crypto enthusiasts praised Kernen for his remarks — and said it marked a turning point as traditional financial journalists are beginning to understand why established cryptocurrencies are valuable.

In the following day’s broadcast on June 20, Kernen said:

“I’m a bitcoin bull now. Have you seen what’s happening on Twitter? I’m like a god. Millennials are like holding me up… I love them, they’re so smart. If you put in a dollar, and your stupid digital currency is worth a dollar, that’s not a cryptocurrency — all the blockchain transactions actually do create some inherent value. Making a digital currency that’s based on a fiat currency makes no sense.”

Facebook released the white paper for its global stablecoin on June 18. MastercardPayPal and Visa are among the founding members of the not-for-profit consortium that will govern it.

Even though libra is being touted as a way of reaching the unbanked, reports have suggested that Facebook’s Calibra digital wallet will not be available in nations that ban cryptocurrencies. This is likely to hinder adoption in India, one of the social network’s largest markets and a country that’s home to the second-largest unbanked population.

Reaction to the long-awaited project has been mixed. While some think libra will boost the industry, others have criticized the white paper’s ambiguity.

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KuCoin Lists Binance Coin, Supports Binance Chain Projects

Cryptocurrency exchange KuCoin announces trading pairs with Binance Coin, says it will support Binance Chain-based projects.

Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange KuCoin has announced that it is now listing the cryptocurrency Binance Coin (BNB) issued by the exchange Binance, according to a press release on June 19.

KuCoin will reportedly offer BNB trading pairs with Bitcoin (BTC) and Tether (USDT). The announcement also notes that KuCoin will support projects based on Binance’s native blockchain, Binance Chain, in addition to its native coin BNB.

The recent development shows that major trading institutions are putting trust in Binance’s token-vetting process on its initial exchange offering platform.

At press time, KuCoin is the 46th largest cryptocurrency exchange on CoinMarketCap, with an adjusted 24-hour trade volume of over $47 million.

Binance recently partnered with TrustTroken to offer the latter’s dollar-backed stablecoin TrueUSD (TUSD) on the exchange as a fiat-to-crypto conversion mechanism. There are reportedly no additional fees to buy the stablecoin, and users can then use TUSD to convert their funds one-to-one with U.S. dollars.

As recently reported by Cointelegraph, researchers at Binance conjectured that social media giant Facebook’s upcoming Libra stablecoin could increase the crypto market’s volume by making crypto payments more accessible. The researchers discussed how Libra aims at becoming a global currency standard, saying:

“Backed by a basket of fiat currency-denominated assets in its initial release, Libra represents a first attempt at creating a world currency, on-chain or not, with everyday usage by billions of individuals and institutions across the globe.”

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OKCoin, Payments Processer Simplex Partner on Card-Enabled USD Deposits for Int’l Users

Major fiat-crypto trading platform OKCoin has partnered with fintech firm Simplex to enable global users to make USD deposits via debit or credit card.

Major fiat-crypto trading platform OKCoin has partnered with fintech firm Simplex to enable global users to make USD deposits via debit or credit card. The news was announced in a press release shared with Cointelegraph on June 17.

As an European Union-licensed financial institution and payments processing provider, Simplex — which has offices in Israel, the United Kingdom, United States and Lithuania — will offer card-enabled USD deposits for OKCoin users outside of Europe, China and the U.S., according to the press release. The partners reportedly plan to extend the service to further countries in the future.

According to the press release, Simplex leverages AI and proprietary detection algorithms to analyze transactions and mitigate the risks of fraudulent card payments. Aside from providing fiat on-ramps for crypto users, the firm also reportedly focuses on turnkey and escrow services.

The newly-supported card services for USD deposits on OKCoin notably stipulate a minimum deposit of $50, with Simplex charging a 5% processing fee for each transaction.

In a statement, Simplex CEO Nimrod Lehavi expressed his belief that credit card functionality is crucial to expedite mainstream cryptocurrency adoption.

Earlier this year, top crypto exchange Binance added support for credit card crypto purchases through a similar partnership with Simplex. In March, Singapore-based exchange KuCoin followed suit, revealing its Simplex partnership for users across over 100 countries.

As reported earlier this month, OKCoin has recently opened an office in Malta and expanded its trading services to non-U.S. customers, who can now deposit and withdraw euros as well as participate in euro spot trading for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH) and bitcoin cash (BCH).

In November 2018, the trading platform launched fiat-crypto trading services in Argentina, revealing plans to extend its services across Latin America.

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Bitfinex Announces Adds Support for OKEx Exchange Token

Bitfinex has added support for OKEx native exchange token OKB as well as stablecoin USDK.

Cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex is now listing two tokens from the exchange OKEx: its native utility token OKB and the stablecoin USDK, according to a press release on June 12.

Bitfinex will offer trading pairs with the new tokens and other significant fiat and digital currencies like U.S. dollars, bitcoin (BTC), EOS, tether (USDT) and ether (ETH).

The native utility token OKB is designed to let OKEx users carry out a variety of functions on the exchange, including settlement of trading fees, the ability to construct a partner exchange, and subscription for tokens on OK Jumpstart — one of OKEx’s token sale platforms.

Head of Operations at OKEx Andy Cheung commented in an official Twitter post that OKEx plans to partner with more exchanges in the future:

“… Listing $OKB on @Bitfinex is only the very first step, we will continue to work with more exchanges to expand our ecosystem.”

OKB is currently an ERC-20 run on the Ethereum blockchain, but will transition to the OKChain later this year, according to the press release.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, OKEx is developing a blockchain called OKChain, which will reportedly support its future decentralized exchange (DEX).

Last week, OKLink, a global settlement firm and sister company to OKEx, partnered with the custodian Prime Trust to release USDK on OKEx.

As reported on June 7, 185 stolen BTC held on Bitfinex has apparently changed addresses over the course of six transactions. The BTC is reportedly associated with a hack on the exchange that occurred back in 2016. Bitfinex’s marketing director Anneka Dew said that the exchange is not behind the migrating account funds.