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Bitt Inks Blockchain Deal With Another Caribbean Central Bank

Barbados-based blockchain startup Bitt is partnering with the Centrale Bank van Curaçao en Sint Maarten (CBCS) to look into issuing a central bank-backed digital currency for the two nations.

Bitt, a portfolio company of Overstock’s Medici Ventures, said Monday that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the central bank for the Dutch Caribbean island Curaçao and Netherlands constituent country Sint Maarten earlier this month. The goal of the deal is to jointly examine the possibility of issuing a digital Curaçao and Sint Maarten guilder to replace the current Netherlands Antillean guilder.

The project will focus in part on testing know-your-customer/anti-money laundering (KYC/AML) technology, according to statements.

CBCS acting president Leila Matroos-Lasten said the bank signed the MOU with Bitt “due to this company’s regional experience in digital payments and its macroeconomic views.”

She added:

“The central bank is determined to address its challenges proactively by exploring the latest technology available, for example, to reduce the level of cash usage within the monetary union, and to facilitate more secure, more AML and KYC compliant and more efficient financial transactions within and between Curaçao and Sint Maarten.”

The MOU signifies that the bank recognizes the potential improvements that technology can bring, she added.

“The CBCS … is committed to exploring solutions regarding the efficiency of cross-jurisdictional transactions and digital payments whilst ensuring compliance and security assurances obtained by these state of the art [fintech] solutions,” Matroos-Lasten was quoted as saying. “This would be beneficial to everyone.”

The news comes a few months after Bitt signed a similar MOU with the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, a central banking institution that covers Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

That trial may be used to develop new digital payment and settlement systems, and if successful, could ultimately help the bank issue a cryptocurrency of its own, as previously reported by CoinDesk.

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The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Crypto Stock Exchange Operator Pleads Guilty to Fraud

The man behind two now-defunct cryptocurrency investment sites has pled guilty to securities fraud and obstruction of justice charges.

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced the guilty plea on Monday, coming days after it was reported that Montroll was close to a deal with prosecutors. Jon Montroll was arrested back in February by U.S. authorities, as CoinDesk reported at the time, in connection with securities investment platform BitFunder and crypto exchange site WeExchange.

Montroll was accused of running an unregistered securities exchange, as well as providing info to investigators that was described as “misleading.” Montroll also allegedly “converted a portion of WeExchange users’ bitcoins to his personal use without the users’ knowledge or consent,” according to a statement published Monday.

He notably was accused of lying about the number of bitcoins available to BitFunder and WeExchange users after the latter was hacked, as well as committing perjury while testifying to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

WeExchange lost around 6,000 bitcoins at the time of the hack, which left the platform insolvent, as previously reported.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement Monday:

“As he admitted today, Jon Montroll deceived his investors and then attempted to deceive the SEC. He repeatedly lied during sworn testimony and misled SEC staff to avoid taking responsibility for the loss of thousands of his customers’ bitcoins.”

Though the case was originally brought by the SEC, the FBI and Southern District of New York Attorney’s office prosecuted Montroll under criminal charges. U.S. District Judge Richard Berman will sentence Montroll at an undetermined future date.

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The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Crypto Exchange Coinbase Forms Political Action Committee

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has formed a Political Action Committee (PAC), according to government documents published Friday night.

A disclosure published by the U.S. Federal Election Commission revealed that the exchange formed the “Coinbase, Inc. Political Action Committee” in June 2018, though it has yet to raise or donate any money. The Form 3x – a “Report of Receipts and Disbursements For Other Than An Authorized Committee” – means the PAC is not currently attached to any candidate running for public office.

The document listed a reporting period from June 4 to June 30.

PACs are formed in the U.S. primarily to raise funds on behalf of candidates running for public office, usually representing specific business or ideological interests, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a financial transparency group which tracks money in politics.

Coinbase communications director Elliot Suthers confirmed that the exchange has launched a PAC, though he declined to provide further details at press time.

While this may be the first PAC formed by a crypto organization, the exchange itself has already donated more than $81,000 for political causes, CNN reported Friday. Coinbase donated $78,000 to Brian Forde, a Congressional candidate and former Office of Science and Technology Policy advisor to President Barack Obama.

The other $3,000 went to BIT PAC, a PAC which has apparently donated to Republicans Justin Amash and Josh Mandel.

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The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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New Power Rates Approved for Crypto Miners in Upstate New York

A municipal utility provider in New York got the green light from state regulators to create a new set of electricity rates for cryptocurrency miners.

The move by the The New York State Public Service Commission was announced Thursday, allowing the Massena Electric Department to “allow high-density load customers, such as cryptocurrency companies, to qualify for service under an individual service agreement.”

While primarily an administrative move, it’s a potentially significant development for cryptocurrency miners hoping to tap the hydroelectrical resources located in New York.

A senior official for the commission said that the decision was based on a desire to balance the need to charge “fair” rates while also attracting business to the region.

Commission chairman John Rhodes said in a statement:

“We must ensure that business customers pay a fair price for the electricity that they consume. However, given the abundance of low-cost electricity in upstate New York, there is an opportunity to serve the needs of existing customers and to encourage economic development in the region.”

The newly approved rule will allow any electricity customers with a maximum demand of electricity over 300 kilowatt-hours to qualify for service under a negotiated contract. The contracts will be reviewed by Massena’s municipal utility and must “protect existing customers from increased supply costs resulting from the new service.”

Thursday’s move wasn’t the first of its kind out of the Commission – earlier this year, the body approved a bid to levy miners with higher rates in the form of a new tariff.

The decision came in response to a petition filed by the New York Municipal Power Agency (NYMPA), which expressed concern that local residents may experience higher rates due to the higher-than-average consumption rates of miners.

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The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Ripple Taps Facebook Payments Exec for Business Development Role

Ripple has a new senior vice president of business and corporate development.

The San Francisco-based distributed ledger startup announced Wednesday the hire of Kahina Van Dyke, who worked as Facebook’s global director of financial services and payments partnerships from the start of 2016 until June of this year.

According to LinkedIn, Van Dyke is also a board director for Progressive Insurance and has served in key roles for Mastercard and Citibank.

In a blog post announcing the hire, Van Dyke discussed the paint points around cross-border payments, citing companies like Facebook that have taken steps to ease such issues for domestic transfers.

“Companies like Facebook have improved access to services, digitized payment flows and made it quicker and easier for people to transact with each other domestically. Now we need a new global technology solution for international payments that offers interoperability with existing systems, connecting them and leveraging their value,” she remarked, adding:

“We are at the very tip of where this whole thing is going.”

Van Dyke’s hire wasn’t the only personnel-related announcement out of Ripple on Wednesday.

The company also announced that its chief cryptographer, David Schwartz, has been appointed as its chief technology officer.

“As CTO, I’ll get to lead a world-class group of engineers, scientists and business executives, which is what makes coming to work every day so exciting. I’m looking forward to the challenge,” Schwartz said in a statement.

Ripple’s previous CTO, Stefan Thomas, departed to found Coil, a smart contracts platform based on Ripple’s open-source Codius project.

Image via Ripple Blog

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.