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Swiss Federal Assembly Approves Instructions on Cryptocurrency Regulation

Switzerland’s Federal Assembly has approved proposals to instruct lawmakers on cryptocurrency regulation.

The legislative body of the Swiss government, the Federal Assembly, has approved a motion to instruct the Federal Council to adapt existing legislation for cryptocurrency regulation. Coitelegraph auf Deutsch reported on the development on March 20.

The motion introduced by Liberal assemblyman Giovanni Merlini intends to instruct the Federal Council to adapt existing provisions on procedural instruments of judicial and administrative authorities, so that they can also be applied to cryptocurrencies. The Council approved the motion introduced with 99 to 83 votes in favor and 10 abstensions.

The move aims to close perceived gaps in protecting cryptocurrency users from illicit activities like extortion and money laundering. The legislation is set to determine how to stifle cryptocurrency-associated risks, as well as whether entities operating crypto trading platforms should be equated with financial intermediaries, and thus be subject to financial market supervision.

Following the approval, Swiss finance minister Ueli Maurer reportedly stated that the proposed developments exceeded the scope of the planned regulation.

Last December, Maurer indicated that instead of a specific blockchain or cryptocurrency legal framework, Switzerland should tweak existing laws to allow for the new technology and its financial application.

Earlier in March, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS), a Swiss-based international banking authority, warned that the robust growth of the crypto industry could potentially “raise financial stability concerns and increase risks faced by banks.” The BCBS also argued that crypto assets are “unsafe to rely on” as a medium of exchange or store of value — two of the main functions of money — implying that “cryptocurrency” is a misnomer.

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Insurance Giant AXA XL Launches Security Token and Crowdfunding Insurance Service

Insurance Giant AXA XL partnered with insurance technology startup Assurely to jointly launch a new insurance product covering equity crowdfunding and security token offerings.

Insurance giant AXA XL and insurance technology startup Assurely have jointly launched a new insurance product covering equity crowdfunding and Security Token Offerings (STOs), according to a press release published on March 6.

The new product dubbed CrowdProtector is designed for issuers and investors, and purportedly protects new online capital formation strategies like equity crowdfunding and STOs. The product also aims increase trust, confidence and safety to potential investors guaranteeing that the issuer is insured. According to Ty Sagalow, CEO of Assurely, the parties have managed to increase underwriting. The releases states:

“CrowdProtector provides Issuers protection against investor complaints and lawsuits as well as serve as a communication to investors that they may get their principal investment returned should the issuer misuse the funds, purposefully misrepresent information in their offering documents, or steal the money.”

In the release, it is noted that until recently, investing in private companies has been available to accredited investors, —  having a net worth of higher than $1 million, or earned income exceeding $200,000 — leaving a large amount of potential investors on the sidelines.

AXA XL is reportedly the second largest insurer in Europe, also providing risk management and reinsurance services to insurance companies globally. In 2018, the company’s net profit was reportedly 2.14 billion euro ($2.42 billion), having fallen by 66 percent from a year earlier. At the same time, the company’s earnings in 2018 rose by three percent, with dividends up by six percent to 1.34 euro ($1.52) per share.

Back in 2015, AXA XL revealed its plans to use Bitcoin (BTC) for remittances in order to streamline payments around the world. At the time, the company stated that many use cases related to Bitcoin had not yet been explored.

As Cointelegraph reported in February, blockchain security firm and crypto wallet service BitGo announced plans to offer crypto insurance through Lloyd’s of London. BitGo Business Wallet clients will purportedly be able to acquire insurance for their digital assets held on BitGo’s Business Wallet service and Custodial offering.

Additional reporting by Adrian Zmudzinski

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French Court Clerks to Use IBM Blockchain Platform for Corporate Registry

French clerks of commercial courts will use a blockchain platform developed with IBM to record changes in companies’ legal status.

French commercial court clerks will use a blockchain-based platform to record changes in companies’ legal status within the country. The development was revealed in an official announcement on March 14.

The blockchain network was jointly developed by IBM and the National Council of Clerks (NCC) and will reportedly be deployed starting in 2019 by the clerks operating in commercial courts across France. The blockchain platform is built on the Hyperledger Fabric framework and aims to increase transparency and efficiency in legal transactions associated with the lifecycle of companies in the registry.

Specifically, the solution will be used to record and share data related to “the exchanges of regulatory information related to companies’ difficulties,” as well as “the changes of status of the company registered on the French territory.” That includes such data as change of corporate name, registration court office, establishment of branch offices, and business dissolution.

In a pilot, NCC reportedly managed to shorten the time needed to update the registry from several days to a single day. Vincent Fournier, Senior Manager Blockchain at IBM France, said that “blockchain’s qualities are ideal for this use, improving the Clerks’ business processes and adapting to the ever-changing nature of their missions.”

IBM has released various commercial blockchain products and filed a number of blockchain-related patents. Moreover, IBM reportedly offers the greatest number of blockchain jobs, according to recent research by The Next Web.

This week, IBM partnered with blockchain consortium and credit union service organization CULedger to develop new blockchain-based solutions for the credit union industry. These solutions can reportedly improve services such as digital identity authentication, Know Your Customer compliance, lending and payments services, and other consumer processes that require authentication.

Also this month, IBM revealed two new patents targeting network security using blockchain technology and focusing on database management using the tech.

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German Bank Association: New Regulation for DLT-Based Securities May Be Necessary

The German private banking association foresees that the need for new regulation may arise from the emergence of DLT-based securities.

The Association of German Private Banks (Bankenverband) foresees that a need for new regulation may arise from the emergence of distributed ledger technology (DLT)-based securities. The association expressed its concerns in a post on its official website on March 11, Cointelegraph auf Deutsche reported.

Per the post, if securities are issued using new technologies, then there is a need for new safekeeping and settlements processes. According to Bankenverband, corporate actions and securities trading may also be subject to change because of DLT-based securities.

The statement further explains that because of the changes that new technologies will create in business processes, “adaptations of civil and regulatory requirements at national and European level may be necessary.”

Recently, the German Federal Ministry of Finance also published a key issues paper on the treatment and regulation of blockchain-based securities.

As Cointelegraph recently reported, German regulators and lawmakers have thus far failed to create a workable legal framework that would provide legal certainty for applications of blockchain technology.

The news came shortly after German parliamentary representatives have argued that the country’s blockchain strategy should include an appropriate legal framework for cryptocurrency trading and token issuance, which would in turn encourage the sector’s domestic development.

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Nasdaq-Powered EU Digital Exchange DX Launches Security Token Trading

DX.Exchange is claiming an industry first with its launch of security token trading and security token offering listings.

Estonia-based Nasdaqpowered digital trading platform DX.Exchange is claiming an industry first with its launch of security token trading and security token offering (STO) listings. The development was shared with Cointelegraph in a press release on March 14.

As previously reported, DX.Exchange went live in January, with support for various fiat and cryptocurrency trading pairs and tokenized stocks. In March, the platform added tokenized exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to its supported products.

According to the press release, the platform now allows investors to purchase security tokens using both fiat and major cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Tether (USDT) and Ripple (XRP). Following this latest development, DX Group will also reportedly restructure into a new entity called DXtech Exchange.

Security token trading represents the latest offering enabled by DXtech Exchange’s existing partnership agreement with Cyprus-regulated broker MPS MarketPlace Securities Ltd., which has thus far enabled the platform’s provision of tokenized stocks and ETFs.

Trading of security tokens will reportedly require investors to undergo an additional layer of Know Your Customer checks, in compliance with the European Union Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II.

MPS will be the entity that lists the tokens and acts as a counterparty in their trading. All trades will be automatically matched using matching engine technology and monitored by a surveillance system.

To demonstrate its new services, DXtech Exchange launch STO listing and trading for a security token dubbed IGWT, which will be offered in a time-limited private security token sale of 18 million IGWT. Thereafter, ten percent of the company’s profits will reportedly be regularly distributed to IGWT token holders that will own 100 percent of the tokens.

The press release outlines the eligibility requirements for listing a security token with DXtech Exchange, which include evaluation by the platform’s investment committee, the provision of a legal opinion, full background vetting, a review of the token’s blockchain protocol and providing DXtech exchange with data on to whom and how tokens are distributed.

The platform’s investment committee reportedly assesses security tokens issuers on the basis of their white paper’s transparency, fundraising method and team.

The press release states that the platform eventually aims to list various security tokens including company shares, company profit splits, funds, bonds, real estate and art.

As security tokens continue to gain industry traction, top crypto exchange Binance is also eyeing the sector, signing an MoU last fall with the Malta Stock Exchange’s fintech and digital asset subsidiary, MSX PLC to jointly launch a new security token digital exchange.

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Major UK Energy Company Acquires Stake in Blockchain Firm Electron

U.K. energy supplier OVO has announced a strategic investment in blockchain energy technology company Electron.

Major United Kingdom energy company OVO has invested in blockchain firm Electron through its recently launched technology division, Kaluza. The development was announced in an OVO blog post published on March 12.

Kaluza —  an intelligent grid technology company that provides software and hardware products to the energy sector — has reportedly made an investment in Electron, a London-based energy tech company that uses blockchain technology. The move aims to facilitate Electron’s deployment of distributed energy trading platforms.

Electron will purportedly use the proceeds of the investment to develop its energy platforms and systems, or its distributed flexibility marketplace. “The development of Electron’s shared asset register will be crucial to supporting the growth of Kaluza and deliver on its mission to securely connect all devices to an intelligent zero-carbon grid,” the post explains.

The new investment from OVO is reportedly the first since Mitsubishi acquired a 20 percent stake in the firm. OVO is reportedly the seventh largest energy supplier in the U.K.

Blockchain has seen multiple applications in the energy sector globally. Earlier in March, Thai petroleum refining firm Bangchak Corporation Public Co. Limited (BCP) began testing a blockchain-based energy trading platform and commercial microgrid. The platform will support the basic electricity needs of an average BCP fuel station in addition to generating, distributing and storing energy for neighboring shopping mall tenants.

Last month, Japan’s solar power supplier Kyocera partnered with LO3 Energy to test blockchain-based virtual power plants (VPP) for improved energy distribution. The test will allow the companies to evaluate the the feasibility of VPPs that promote low-carbon use without fuels or carbon emissions based on peer-to-peer distributed consensus network.

According to recent research from Infoholic Research LLP, the global blockchain in energy utilities market is expected to grow by 60 percent by 2024. The market was assessed to be $210.4 million in 2018, and is expected to reach $3.4 billion by 2024. Infoholic Research predicts the growth at a compound annual growth rate of 59.4 percent from 2018 to 2024.

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Startup Finturi Raises $2.2 Million for Its Blockchain-Based Invoice Finance Platform

Startup Finturi has secured $2.2 million to let businesses secure loans against invoices with blockchain and AI.

Dutch blockchain startup Finturi has secured 2 million euro ($2.2 million) to enable businesses to secure loans against invoices via blockchain tech, the company tweeted on March 12.

Founded in September 2018, Finturi aims to help businesses finance invoices by linking them with financiers to borrow money against invoices, using blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI), according to a report by startup-focused publication EU-Startups.com on March 11.

Finturi has reportedly raised its first investment via an angel round led by NetSam Participaties BV, which evidently participated in an investment round for the first time, according to Crunchbase.

Finturi’s blockchain-based invoice finance platform is scheduled to launch in the third quarter of 2019. According to the report, the Finturi team plans to provide a completely peer-to-peer (P2P) platform in future that includes businesses’ clients.

Expressing concerns about many new businesses face difficulties with raising capital, Finturi CEO Johannes Brouwer stated that the firm aims to enable businesses to get loans against invoices within 24 hours. According to Finturi’s CEO, the upcoming platform will provide financiers with a “platform for investing in invoices with minimum hussle.”

The lead investor from NetSam Participaties BV said that blockchain tech combined with AI has a massive potential in eliminating inefficiencies in existing financial processes by cutting costs, accelerating processing time and providing  better security.

Recently, five Japanese banks entered into a partnership to launch blockchain-based financial services infrastructure. Targeting a range of financial operations for efficiency improvements, the banks will leverage IBM’s expertise during the development phase.

Last week, economist and notorious crypto critic Nouriel Roubini argued that blockchain has nothing to do with the future of financial services. Roubini excluded the term from the list of major technologies that he sees as leading to a manufacturing or fintech revolution, including AI, machine learning, big data and the Internet of Things.