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Trump vs Bitcoin, Japanese Exchange Hacked | Coffee and Crypto

In the premiere episode of the new Cointelegraph series “Coffee and Crypto,” Olivia Capozzalo and Molly Jane Zuckerman discussed the latest news in the crypto industry.

In the premiere episode of the new Cointelegraph series “Coffee and Crypto,” head of editorial Olivia Capozzalo and head of news Molly Jane Zuckerman discussed the latest news in the cryptocurrency industry.

Latest news in the cryptocurrency industry

In the video, Capozzalo and Zuckerman discuss United States President Donald Trump criticizing Bitcoin (BTC) and Facebook’s Libra stablecoin, the European Central Bank’s recent statements about Bitcoin, and whether BTC is a currency. Zuckerman also talked about the hack of Japanese exchange Bitpoint, which yesterday published the breakdown of crypto assets stolen in the 3 billion yen (~$27.8 million) hack of its platform earlier this month. 

Capozzalo spoke about an American computer scientist that has managed to mine Bitcoin on a 52-year-old Apollo guidance computer. Those are the very same computers that were used to navigate the first moon landings by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the 1960s.

Cointelegraph’s head of editorial shared a story about how she first learned about cryptocurrencies in 2013, but wasn’t a fan initially.

“I felt like Trump,” Capozzalo said, in reference to the president’s recent tweets about crypto. 

As Cointelegraph reported earlier this month, Donald Trump voiced his opposition to cryptocurrencies as a whole, citing Bitcoin and Libra specifically. He stated that he is “not a fan of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air.”

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UK Finance Minister Says Regulators Should Decide on Libra, Not Lawmakers

U.K. Finance Minister Philip Hammond said that regulators, not lawmakers, should make decisions regarding Facebook’s Libra stablecoin.

The United Kingdom Finance Minister Philip Hammond said that regulators and not lawmakers should decide on how to regulate Facebook’s stablecoin Libra, CNBC reported on July 15.

In an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Hammond said that lawmakers should not decide to require the social media giant Facebook to acquire a bank license as it is “an issue for regulators to determine, not for politicians to determine.” Hammond said that Libra could be “a very positive thing” once it is properly regulated, and added:

“We’re not going to turn our back to it or try to stop it. We’re going to engage with it and try to work with others to ensure that it is effectively regulated.”

Hammond further stressed that without proper scrutiny, Libra has potential to pose great risk to the financial system as it could become a tool for money laundering and financing terrorism. Hammond also pointed out that he sees a difference between Libra and Bitcoin (BTC) because they have contrasting ownership structures.

Earlier in July, Bank of England governor Mark Carney said that people need to acknowledge the issues Facebook is attempting to solve with Libra, regardless of the project’s potential downsides.

Carney also stated that Libra, due to the massive scale of the project, has to be virtually perfect at the outset — at least from a financial security standpoint — in order for it to be released at all.

Hammonds delivered his comment ahead of a hearing on the Libra cryptocurrency project with the Banking Committee of the United States Senate, which will be held tomorrow, July 16. Following the release of the project’s whitepaper, U.S. regulators expressed their concern about the project’s possible effects on financial stability.

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Prasos Secures Payment Institution License From Finnish Watchdog

Cryptocurrency services firm Prasos has received a payment institution license from a Finnish regulator, allowing it to offer payment services in EEA countries.

Finland-based cryptocurrency firm Prasos has secured a payment institution license via the Finnish Financial Supervisory Authority (FFSA). The news comes by way of an official announcement via its crypto exchange website on July 12.

According to the announcement, Prasos is now the third crypto firm in Europe to secure a payment institution license. According to its website, Prasos operates a crypto exchange, a crypto investment platform, and Bitcoin (BTC) ATMs.

Prasos stated that, thanks to its new license, its crypto investment platform Coinmotion is now capable of supporting a payment service in the European Economic Area (EEA), which includes EU member states as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. 

The license will also reportedly allow Coinmotion to cooperate more smoothly with banks and traditional financial institutions, and extend its capabilities pertaining to traditional fiat money.

Prasos Oy’s managing director Heidi Hurskainen said it took around one-and-a-half years to complete the application process; Hurskainen also noted that over this period, crypto legislation within the EU has become more clear.

Looking forward, Prasos is planning to apply — again with the FFSA — for a virtual currency provider license in May, as will apparently be required when new legislation comes into effect that month.

As recently reported by Cointelegraph, two companies in the United States have received notable licensure through the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Blockchain startup Blockstack announced on July 10 that it was running the first SEC-approved public token offering under Regulation A+, while the blockchain org Props announced on July 11 that it had received the first SEC-approved consumer-facing token offering, under Reg A+ as well.

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German Central Bank: Cryptos Are Not a Threat to Financial Stability

Central Bank of Germany representative Burkhard Balz says that cryptocurrencies do not pose a threat to financial stability.

Central Bank of Germany representative Burkhard Balz said that cryptocurrencies do not pose a threat to financial stability during a talk at the European Parliament reported a post published on the institution’s website on July 9.

Burkhard Balz, Member of the Executive Board of the Deutsche Bundesbank, stated that “crypto-tokens currently do not pose a risk to monetary or financial stability.” Furthermore, he also noted that “gaps may occur where they fall outside the scope of regulators’ authority or where there is an absence of international standards.”

This idea is in line with the claims of Spanish law enforcement representatives, who pointed out that Bitcoin ATMs show a gap in European Union’s Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations, as Cointelegraph reported earlier today. Balz also warned in his talk that any increase in the popularity of crypto assets warrants close scrutiny. Still, he also expressed high hopes for digital transformation brought on by artificial intelligence, distributed ledger technology, and cloud services, saying:

“We are not talking about “evolution,” about banking adapting to the wants and needs of a digital generation – we are talking about a true “disruption” that may change the financial sector for good.”

Last week European Central Bank executive board member Benoit Coeure said that financial regulators must act fast to prepare for Facebook’s Libra stablecoin.

As Cointelegraph reported last month, Australia’s central bank said Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies would remain outside mainstream payments.

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Spanish Police: Bitcoin ATMs a Blind Spot for Money Laundering Laws

Spanish law enforcement pointed out that Bitcoin ATMs show a gap in European Union’s anti-money laundering regulation.

Spanish law enforcement pointed out that Bitcoin (BTC) automated teller machines (ATMs) show a gap in European Union’s Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations, Bloomberg reports on July 11.

Per the report, Spanish police uncovered a local gang that used Bitcoin ATMs to transfer more than 9 million euros ($10 million) for drug traffickers in Colombia and other countries. 

Bloomberg cites anonymous representatives of Guardia Civil (a type of Spanish law enforcement) alleging that the group hired two machines from trading platforms and installed them in an office in Madrid.

The office in question masqueraded as a center for remittances and cryptocurrency trading. The group reportedly used the center to transfer money from bank accounts to trading platforms to top up the ATMs with digital assets. Cryptocurrencies obtained this way would allegedly then end up being sent to the aforementioned drug traffickers.

Police also reportedly seized the two Bitcoin ATMs, four cold wallets, and 20 online wallets. Bloomberg further notes that prosecutors are now trying to prove a correlation between the ATMs and the confiscated digital assets.

As Cointelegraph reported at the beginning of June, the city of Vancouver, Canada, is considering banning bitcoin ATMs due to money laundering concerns.

On the other hand, earlier this month Canadian exchange Coinsquare announced that it has acquired software allowing traditional ATMs to sell cryptocurrencies.

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EU Central Bank Won’t Add Bitcoin to Reserves — Says Its Not a Currency

Philip Green triggered the wrath of crypto proponents online as the ECB says it has no plans to add bitcoin to its reserves.

The European Central Bank (ECB) doubled down on its dismissive stance on bitcoin (BTC) July 9, refusing to recognize it as currency in a Q&A session.

Responding to a private query as part of its regular interactive Twitter program, which it administers under the hashtag ‘#AskECB,’ the bank said it had no plans to add bitcoin to its reserves.

“Bitcoin is not a currency, it rather is an asset and it is very volatile,” officials wrote quoting chief economist, Philip Lane. 

The response continues the ECB’s underwhelming reaction to cryptocurrency it has already propagated in other public statements. 

In May this year, a report dubbed “Crypto-Assets: Implications for financial stability, monetary policy, and payments and market infrastructures” concluded the entire phenomenon had little impact on the traditional economy. 

Previously, the European Union’s reserve bank had also come out bearish on the idea of issuing a digital currency of its own, in contrast to noises now coming from China and several other states. 

Predictably, cryptocurrency proponents had little time for Lane’s brief statements on bitcoin this time around. 

“Bitcoin is money,” Pierre Rochard, a software engineer known for his advocacy, responded on Twitter to much appreciation.

Another user reproduced the ECB’s own inflation calculator, showing the decreasing purchasing power of the euro since its introduction twenty years ago. 

That, they argued, was infinitely worse than the temporary bouts of volatility seen with bitcoin.

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Italy to Lead European Blockchain Partnership Until July 2020

Italy, Sweden and the Czech Republic to preside over the European Blockchain Partnership promoted by European Commission.

Italy, Sweden and the Czech Republic will share the next one-year presidency of the European Blockchain Partnership, Cointelegraph Italy reported on July 9.

Following a meeting of the European Blockchain Partnership today in Brussels, the three countries took on the one-year presidency, which will last from July 2019 to July 2020.

Marco Bellezza, Legal Advisor to Minister Di Maio for communications and digital innovation and Coordinator of the Italian delegation of the EU Blockchain Partnership, said:

“The Italian Presidency of the EU Blockchain partnership is a first acknowledgment of the activity carried out on this front on the impulse of the Minister Luigi Di Maio, with a view to giving Italy a leadership role in the European projects on Blockchain. This is a unique opportunity to further promote the knowledge and use of this technology for the benefit of citizens and businesses by strengthening cooperation within the EU.”

Italy joined the European Blockchain Partnership last September. The partnership is an entity promoted by European Commission five months earlier as a “vehicle for cooperation amongst Member States to exchange experience and expertise in technical and regulatory fields and prepare for the launch of EU-wide [blockchain] applications across the Digital Single Market for the benefit of the public and private sectors.”

In February, the Italian House of Representatives approved a bill defining distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) such as blockchain. At the time, Maria Laura Mantovani, a member of the Italian Parliament in the Movimento 5 Stelle party, told Cointelegraph Italy that a favorable use case for blockchain is its application in online voting.

Last month, the Italian Banking Association announced that Italy’s banks will integrate DLT into internal processes to boost settlements. The deployment of blockchain is also set to improve transparency in transactions between banks and efficiency of communication between counterparties.

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Cyprus’ Finance Minister: Blockchain Draft Bill to be Ready This Year

The finance minister of Cyprus, Harris Georgiades, said that the country’s blockchain regulation draft will be ready this year.

The finance minister of Cyprus, Harris Georgiades, has said that the country’s blockchain regulation draft will be ready this year. English-language local finance news outlet FinancialMirror reported the news on July 4.

Per the report, Georgiades described blockchain technology as “a new technological revolution similar to that of the internet.” Demetris Syllouris, House speaker, also praised the technology’s potential during the event:

“Full implementation of this technology across the public and private sector is expected to radically change the structures of modern societies, the way they are organized and their operation.”

According to him, the national strategy will sustain Cyprus’ digital innovation, provide the necessary framework, and a roadmap exploring the application of distributed ledger technology (DLT) across many industries while also addressing risks and threats. The national blockchain pilot programs will reportedly involve the Department of Land and Surveys, the Department of Customs and Excise, the Tax Department and the National Betting Authority.

As Cointelegraph reported in February, the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) is calling for the transposition of the European Union (EU)’s Fifth Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Directive (AMLD5) into national law — bringing local regulation of cryptocurrencies under its provisions.

In December last year, Cyprus was among the seven EU states that co-signed a declaration calling for help in the promotion of DLT use in the region.

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How Malta Is Becoming the Global Capital of Crypto | Cointelegraph Documentary

Cointelegraph traveled to Malta for the second time to see the changes on the Blockchain Island.

Some things never change, like the Megalithic Temples built in Malta over 5,000 years ago. These days, however, that may be the only thing that remains unchanged in Malta. With a population of just under half a million and being mostly famous as a destination for European teenagers to study English during their summer vacation, Malta has recently become a star on the crypto map. 

Having already had a positive experience hosting online gambling companies, which makes up a very significant portion (13%) of Malta’s GDP, the island is now turning its head toward the world of crypto in an effort to repeat its previous success. A lucrative tax incentive system, government initiatives, and clear and friendly crypto regulation are bringing fruitful results: Many large cryptocurrency exchanges, such as OKEx and Binance, have already established their headquarters in Malta. 

After the first visit to the so-called Blockchain Island in November 2018, Cointelegraph has traveled to Malta for a second time to see what has changed since then (hint: everything is even better than you can imagine).

If you missed our first video about Malta, watch it here — at least to see a crypto party in the presidential palace. To watch more of Cointelegraph’s videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel!

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EU Banks to Deploy Instant Payments System in Response to Competition From Libra

European Union banks may have an instantaneous payments system in place by 2020.

European Union banks could have an instantaneous payments system in place by 2020, Reuters reports on June 26.

Per the report, real-time payments have been possible in the eurozone since 2017, but only about half of the banks in the bloc adhered to the initiative. Still, Reuters notes that adoption may accelerate now that Facebook’s Libra stablecoin is shaping up to be a competitor to local banks.

Director general of the European Payments Council (EPC) Etienne Goosse reportedly said that — regardless of the success of Facebook’s Libra’s project — competition from technology firms was here to stay, and banks need to evolve faster. Goosse points out that major tech firms have a significant advantage over the fragmented banking system:

“They come with a global solution, under a global brand offering many things that the consumers seem to find wonderful. […] So we have no time.”

Goosse also pointed out that, while the EPC instant payment standard has been adopted by about 60% of eurozone lenders and payment services providers, it could spread to all banks in the block by the end of 2020. Reuters also notes that other officials confirmed that 2020 was a credible target, but they also noted that for the system to go across borders the entire eurozone would need to be covered.

Lastly, Reuters notes that an instant payment system may not be enough to prevent losing user share to fintech initiatives that only need the user to install an easy-to-use mobile application. Facebook can also use its social and chat platforms to its advantage.

As Cointelegraph reported earlier today, the head of the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority has urged regulators to develop standards in response to Facebook’s forthcoming cryptocurrency, Libra.

Last week, the Switzerland-based Bank of International Settlements (BIS) commented on the threat that the entry of major tech firms into financial services could pose to the banking sector, as Cointelegraph reported.