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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.

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ECB President Mario Draghi: Cryptos Are Not Currencies, They Are Very Risky Assets

European Central Bank president Mario Draghi said that cryptocurrencies are not real currencies.

European Central Bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi said that cryptocurrencies are not real currencies during the ECB Youth Dialogue meeting with the winners of the Generation €uro Students’ Award, as Cointelegraph Italia reported on May 9.

During the meeting, Draghi answered a question about cryptocurrencies asked by one of the winners of the award:

“Cryptocurrencies or bitcoins, or anything like that, are not really currencies — they are assets. A euro is a euro — today, tomorrow, in a month — it’s always a euro. And the ECB is behind the euro. Who is behind the cryptocurrencies? So they are very, very risky assets.”

The crypto community responded on Twitter criticizing Draghi’s stance and pointing to fiat currencies’ inflation as a proof of the fact that the euro is not stable in its price either.

In his comments, the head of the ECB also claimed that currently, cryptocurrencies “are not significant enough in their entity that they could affect our economies in a macro way.”

As well, Draghi stated that it is not ECB’s competency to regulate cryptocurrencies. Instead, according to him, it is “something that falls within the consumer protection competence, where you want to make sure that people who buy into these assets know what they do and are aware of the risks they run.”

As Cointelegraph reported in September last year, the ECB has no plans to issue its own digital currency.

In May 2018, ECB board member Yves Mersch had said that banks should segregate their dealings in cryptocurrencies from other activities.

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Universal Protocol Alliance to Launch Euro-Pegged Stablecoin in April

Universal Protocol’s stablecoin Universal Euro will be pegged to the euro on a 1:1 basis and will allow holders to earn interest.

The Universal Protocol (UP) Alliance, a coalition of blockchain firms including crypto exchange Bittrex and decentralized browser Brave, will launch its own euro-pegged stablecoin in April, according to a press release on March 28.

The UP’s stablecoin, dubbed the Universal Euro (UPEUR) will be pegged to the euro on a 1:1 basis and will reportedly allow customers to earn up to 8 percent interest.

The Universal Euro will purportedly be available directly on digital money platform Uphold and participating exchanges, as will be accepted by crypto custodian and device providers such as BitGo and Ledger.

The new stablecoin targets residents in countries with high inflation or limited access to traditional banking, according to the press release. By using UPEUR, users will be able to lend their euro-pegged assets and earn interest.

Founded in 2018, The Universal Protocol Alliance represents an association of six industry organizations such as crypto exchange Bittrex, open-source pay-to-surf browser Brave, university-based eco-system for blockchain Blockchain at Berkeley, events firm Cred, blockchain startup CertiK, and Uphold.

CertiK was founded by academics at Columbia University to develop a formal verification framework that aims to mathematically prove that smart contracts and blockchain ecosystems are free from breaches and security-resistant.

The new stablecoin initiative comes amidst increasing popularity of stablecoins. Recently, Star Xu — founder of exchange services provider OKCoin and crypto exchange OKEx announced OK Group’s partnership with blockchain-focused trust company Prime Trust, purportedly allowing the firm to launch its own compliant stablecoin.

Previously, head of blockchain solutions at tech giant IBM hinted that bank-targeted stablecoins will be a major forthcoming development for the company’s blockchain cross-border payments solution.

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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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Bitcoin Cash – Euro Trading Pair to Be Re-Enabled on GDAX

Bitcoin Cash paired with Euro to be reopened by the GDAX exchange in less than a week, enabling another highway to invest with your regional fiat on BCH.

The platform [being a subsidiary of Coinbase] has declared that the pair BCH/EUR, especially for European investors obviously, will be available in a couple of days – from January 25 Wed at 02:00 AM PST. It is of great interest as the users will not have anymore to go through process of exchanging the euro to BTC firstly and then to BCH which added a second commission.

December 2017 Coinbase was forced to stop the BCH pairings on both platforms soon after it started, botching the launch. Besides operational problems like an inability to handle all the traffic to specific BCH liquidity issues, the company was also accused by many clients of enabling insider trading. Trading opportunity with BTC was only made possible after Jan 17 – just 7 days before the EUR pair.

The GDAX Market Operation team decided to take the process of launching from one mode to another so everything goes more smoothly this time while taking under consideration factors like price volatility and order book liquidity. First – ‘post only’ mode for a min of 10 minutes, second – ‘limit only’ mode that will be replaced by ‘full trading’.

Taking the launch that happened three-four days ago as a comparing example [BCH/BTC], the first mode took almost 40 minutes to transit to the second while climbing to the final level took an hour and almost 50 minutes.

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Esctoin Turned Down: Euro is the Currency for the Euro Zone

Its been a while that Kaspar Korjus Estonian president of the e-residency program gave out the news and idea of a country digital currency to be developed – Estcoin.

When the information met Mario Draghi the president of ECB, he was very clear and on point for the answer and outcome of the whole program:

“No member state can introduce its own currency; the currency of the euro zone is the euro.”

Estcoin – was planned to (if possible) be used as a virtual currency for the country and a way for citizens to notarize virtual documents on a global scale.

The moment that Estcoin could come to application would be a history mark for the cryptocurrency industry, community and state-range adoption. But it seems that, the Eurozone can not allow such a financial function to be enabled and proceed even with its benefits. Together with China’s Initial Coin Offering Ban, the world spread feeling towards regulatories related to cryptocurrencies is mixed for the moment but the whole idea of a GOV launching its own virtual currency is on pause for the moment.


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