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Direct Descendant of Italian Banking Dynasty Medici to Launch Blockchain-Friendly Bank

The Medici Bank comes more than 500 years after the original Banco de’ Medici and aims to “expand financial opportunity across global markets.”

A direct descendant of an Italian dynasty that ran a banking empire in the 1400s is launching a new bank focusing on “digital-centric commerce and investing,” according to a news release published on May 8.

Prince Lorenzo de’ Medici, president of the eponymous Medici Bank, said he has been motivated by advancements in blockchain technology to start the new venture, which aims to “create seamless, digital customer experiences and expand financial opportunity across global markets.”

He argued that little innovation has come from the banking sector ever since his family’s original institution, the Florence-based Banco de’ Medici, pioneered the use of checks, letters of credit, double-entry bookkeeping and bank branches more than 500 years ago.

Medici Bank has said it is a fully licensed chartered bank in the United States and headquartered in Puerto Rico. Its CEO, Ed Boyle, explained that the institution plans to prioritize the needs of digitally native businesses while trying to eliminate the inefficiencies and friction seen in more established rivals. He added:

“We are building Medici Bank from the ground up, not reliant on aged infrastructures nor as an overlay on traditional banks. This is uncommon, especially in the United States where licensed challenger bank options are few and far between.”

The collapse of the original Banco de’ Medici began in the late 1400s after Edward IV, the King of England, was unable to repay loans. Nonetheless, the Medici dynasty continued to enjoy influence in other realms, with four members of the family serving as pope in the 1500s and early 1600s.

Blockchain technology is continuing to be put to the test by the banking sector. Letter of credit transactions, one of the Medici Bank’s innovations, were recently simulated on blockchain consortium R3’s blockchain platform in a test involving more than 50 institutions. Last month, JPMorgan Chase unveiled plans to add new features to its blockchain-powered Interbank Information Network, which is used by 220 banks globally.

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63% of Europeans Say That Crypto Will Exist in 10 Years, But Only 49% Believe in Bitcoin

63% of Europeans are confident that crypto will still exist in 10 years, according to a survey from bitFlyer.

63% of Europeans are confident that crypto will still exist in 10 years, according to new research from bitFlyer. London-based fintech publication FStech reported on the survey on April 24.

Tokyo-based crypto exchange bitFlyer, which was licensed to operate in the European Union in 2018, reportedly polled 10,000 respondents in Europe to find out what they think about cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin (BTC).

The exchange reportedly surveyed the following ten countries: the United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Spain.

When asked about crypto in general, the majority of Europeans claimed that they believe that crypto will exist in 10 years, with more than 50% of respondents in each country predicting that will still exist in some form.

Specifically, Norwegian respondents turned out to be the most optimistic about the future of crypto, with 73% thinking that crypto will exist. On the other hand, French respondents were the most pessimistic about the future of crypto, with only 55% claiming that they believe in crypto in the long-term.

The percentage of consumers who believe cryptocurrencies will still exist in 10 years

Fewer Europeans turned out to be confident about the biggest cryptocurrency — bitcoin — with an average of 49% of respondents thinking that bitcoin will exist 10 years from now. According to the study, French respondents were the least optimistic about bitcoin, with only 40% of respondents claiming that the crypto will still be around, while Italian and Polish respondents expressed the most confidence about the major cryptocurrency, with 55% and 53% speaking in favor of bitcoin, respectively.

The percentage of consumers who believe bitcoin will indeed exist in 10 years

More particularly, very few Europeans expressed the belief that bitcoin will be an investment and a security tool in 10 years, with an average of 7% of Europeans stating that they believe so.

The percentage of consumers who believe bitcoin will exist as an investment and security tool in 10 years

Andy Bryant, COO at bitFlyer Europe, reportedly said that the poll results indicate that the reputation of cryptocurrency has moved beyond hype and become more established. Bryant concluded that the industry disruptors should promote particular benefits and use cases of crypto, so that people can understand how the technology will come to be used in society.

Recently, Reuters reported that France is going to try to convince other EU member states to adopt cryptocurrency regulations similar to its own.

On April 15, Corporate Traveller, the largest travel management firm in the UK, announced it started accepting bitcoin for payments.

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Italy Unveils ‘High-Level Experts’ to Help Develop Its Official Blockchain Strategy

The Italian government has announced that 30 blockchain experts will help integrate the technology at the state level.

The Italian government has published its list of 30 blockchain high-level experts to further its integration of the technology at state level, Cointelegraph Italy reported Dec. 27.

The result of a four-month hiring and consultation process, the group will work for free advising authorities how to create a “national strategy on distributed register and blockchain technologies.”

The project is being convened by the Italian Ministry of Economic Development (MSE).

“Emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain are intended to radically change our lives, the society in which we live and the economic and productive fabric of the country,” deputy prime minister and minister of economic development Luigi Di Maio said in September.

Maio added:

“Emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and blockchain, are bound to fundamentally change our lives, the society we live in and the economic fabric of our country.”

The participants all come from Italy and are involved in mostly domestic sectors. They include trade association Assobit co-founder Gian Luca Comandini, Italtel head of marketing portfolio Angiolini Giorgio and Blockchain & Society Policy Research Lab board of directors member Marcella Atzori.

Italy has sought to extend its monitoring of cryptocurrency-related activities within its borders as well as associated phenomena such as blockchain.

Authorities have released multiple warnings against illegitimate actors in the crypto this month, warning the public to exercise caution.

Italy was also one of seven European Union member states that signed a declaration to promote blockchain use earlier this month.

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Italian Financial Regulator Issues Cease and Desist Order to Crypto-Related Project

The Italian securities regulator has prohibited the activity of “Avacrypto” for allegedly violating securities laws.

The financial regulator of Italy has barred a cryptocurrency-related project from operations for the provision of allegedly unauthorized investment services, according to an official statement published Dec. 14.

Founded in 1974, the Italian National Commission for Companies and the Stock Exchange — or Commissione Nazionale per le Società e la Borsa (CONSOB) — is the government authority of Italy responsible for regulating the Italian securities market.

The company prohibited by the CONSOB, Avacrypto, allegedly offered its services to the Italian public without the required authorization, including operating through the website www.avacrypto.com. At press time, Avacrypto’s website is not accessible.

Earlier in December, the CONSOB suspended two other projects for a 90-day period for allegedly offering fraudulent cryptocurrency investment schemes. Both firms suspended by the CONSOB — Bitsurge Token and Green Energy Certificates — are allegedly scam projects from Avalon Life, a company that is not based in the European Union (EU).

While there is no established regulation in regards to digital currencies in Italy, the country’s Treasury Department of the Ministry of Economy and Finance had been working on a decree in the spring that aims to classify the use of crypto in the country. The decree was specifically set to define how and when “service providers related to the use of digital currency” should report their activities to the Ministry.

The legislation aims to avoid any unlawful activity associated with cryptocurrencies, in particular money laundering. However, compliance with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) laws when acting with cryptocurrencies on a professional level had already been clarified on May 25, 2017, in the Legislative Decree № 90.

The definition of “virtual currency” is explained in the decree as a: “digital representation of value, not issued by a central bank or a public authority, not necessarily related to a fiat currency, used as a tool of exchange for purchasing goods or services, and electronically transferred, stored and traded.”

Later in June, Fabio Panetta, deputy governor of the Bank of Italy, shared his views concerning central bank digital currencies.

Panetta stated that a key potential justification for their issuance was to reduce costs in the production, transportation and disposal of cash. He also considered their advantages as “at best unclear” when compared with the existing digital payment mechanisms offered by the private sector.

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Italy: Securities Regulator Suspends Two Crypto Firms for Alleged Scam Investment Schemes

Italian securities watchdog CONSOB has halted two projects for allegedly offering fraudulent crypto investments.

The Italian securities regulator, CONSOB, has suspended two projects for allegedly offering fraudulent crypto investment schemes. The 90-day suspensions were reported in an official statement on the CONSOB website published Monday, Dec 17.

The Italian Companies and Exchange Commission, or Commissione Nazionale per le Società e la Borsa (CONSOB), is the Italian analogue of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and represents a governmental authority that regulates the Italian securities market.

Both firms suspended by CONSOB, Bitsurge Token and Green Energy Certificates, are allegedly scam projects from the non-European Union-based company Avalon Life, and both have been banned from offering investments for 90 days starting from Dec. 12, according to two official resolutions.

Allegedly fraudulent scheme Bitsurge was promoted on the website bitsurge.io and on the Facebook page dubbed “Bitsurge Token.” As described in the resolution, the company was offering investors “token contracts” with monthly returns from six to 13 percent, for capital amounts ranging from $1,000 to $25,000. The CONSOB document notes that customers reportedly did not possess any autonomy in the management of their tokens.

The second scheme, dubbed Green Earth Certificates, was reportedly promoted through the Facebook page “Progetto Crypto Green Earth” and offered “Green Earth Certificates” in order to protect rainforests from deforestation by purchasing forest areas via blockchain. The alleged scam intended to provide a six percent reward on the sum of crypto investments in forest areas such as Costa Rica, which have large areas of rainforests.

Recently, the CONSOB has issued a joint warning with Malta’s Financial Services Authority (MFSA) about an unlicensed cryptocurrency exchange named OriginalCrypto.

In mid-November, the CONSOB also sent cease-and-desists to three crypto-related firms for the alleged offering of unapproved investment services.

In regard to the issue of crypto-related advertising on Facebook, the social media giant had previously banned crypto and ICO ads in January 2018, claiming that it wanted to prohibit “misleading or deceptive promotional practices” associated with crypto.

However, the social media entity updated their policy to allow cryptocurrencies ads again in late June 2018, still maintaining their ban on promoting initial coin offerings (ICO).

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Malta, Italy Issue Joint Warning Over Potential Unlicensed Cryptocurrency Exchange

A statement from Maltese regulators requires site OriginalCrypto to stop serving the Italian and Maltese markets.

Malta has warned citizens about an unlicensed cryptocurrency exchange serving its domestic market. Regulators ordered the platform to stop operating in a notice Dec. 5.

The offending platform, OriginalCrypto, had first come to the attention of Italian officials concerned it may not have the required license to offer authorized “investment services and activities.”

The platform’s owner, SolutionsCM Ltd., has now come under scrutiny from both countries, with Malta’s Financial Services Authority (MFSA) sharing the warning from Italy:

“The Commissione Nazionale per le Società e la Borsa (CONSOB) has ordered the following companies to cease infringement of art. 18 of the Italian Legislative Decree No. 58/1998, consisting of the provision of unauthorised investment services and activities to the Italian public performed by SolutionsCM Ltd. via the www.originalcrypto.com website.”

As Cointelegraph frequently reports, Malta has sought to become one of the world’s most permissive jurisdictions regarding both cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

As part of its bid to transform into a so-called “Blockchain Island,” various regulatory overhauls have accompanied MFSA-endorsed deals with industry businesses, including major exchanges such as Binance and Huobi.

OriginalCrypto remains far from those legitimate activities, however, sources warning about the likely “scam” scheme earlier this year.

“Portraying their platform as a cryptocurrency financial brokerage, OriginalCrypto.com has engineered a clever marketing approach to promote their illicit investment services to consumers across the world,” monitoring site ScamBitcoin wrote in February.

According to the site’s investigations, OriginalCrypto had made dubious claims about its setup, including being operated by a Bulgarian-based parent company “Bali Limited Ltd.”

“We could find no evidence to support that Bali Limited Ltd was an actual corporation,” the site warned:

“Furthermore, the alleged corporate address provided for Bali Limited Ltd does not appear to be a factual physical address and computes to a variance of their disclosed address.”

Last week, the U.S. state of Ohio’s decision to accept cryptocurrency for tax payments drew the ire of the mainstream press after it emerged officials involved were unaware of the scams that had affected previous such efforts elsewhere.

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Seven EU States Sign Declaration to Promote Blockchain Use

During an EU meeting, seven southern EU member states released a declaration asking for help in the promotion of blockchain.

Seven southern European Union member states have released a declaration calling for help in the promotion of Distributed Ledger Technology’s (DLT) use in the region, the Financial Times (FT) reports Dec. 4.

The declaration was reportedly initiated by Malta and signed by six other member states, France, Italy, Cyprus, Portugal, Spain and Greece, during a meeting of EU transport ministers in Brussels on Tuesday.

The participating governments explained that DLT –– one type of which is blockchain –– could be a “game changer” for southern EU economies.

Namely, the document cites “education, transport, mobility, shipping, Land Registry, customs, company registry, and healthcare” as services which can be “transformed” by this technology. The group also cites blockchain tech’s use for protecting citizens’ privacy and making bureaucratic procedures more efficient.  

The report further notes that this technology has potential beyond digital government services:

“This can result not only in the enhancement of e-government services but also increased transparency and reduced administrative burdens, better customs collection and better access to public information.”

In mid-November, a member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank, Benoit Coeure, declared that he considers Bitcoin the “evil spawn of the [2008] financial crisis.”

Also in November, banking groups BBVA and Banco Santander joined the EU International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications (IATBA), Cointelegraph reported. The association itself is set to be launched Q1 2019 and aims to develop blockchain infrastructure and standards.

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Global Retail Giant Auchan Expands Blockchain Tracking Solution to Five More Countries

French retail giant Auchan has expanded its blockchain products’ traceability solution after successful a 18-month pilot in Vietnam.

Global retail giant Auchan is expanding TE-FOOD’s blockchain solution to improve the transparency of products’ history, U.S.-based news agency Cision PRWeb reports today, Dec. 4.

The French retail group, which is reportedly the 13th largest food retailer globally with operations in 17 countries, has extended TE-FOOD’s FoodChain solution to five more countries.

FoodChain is the international traceability information ledger by TE-FOOD, first applied by Auchan in its Vietnam branch. After a 18-month test of TE-FOOD’s blockchain tool in Vietnam, Auchan has now decided to deploy the products’ traceability solution in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Senegal.

The blockchain-powered retail monitoring system provides tracking for selected product categories from farm-to-table, as well as recording food quality data and related logistics information. Auchan consumers are able to check products’ history via their smartphones by scanning the products’ QR codes and getting access to authentic data recorded on FoodChain.

According to the article, TE-FOOD’s blockchain solution implemented by Auchan is reportedly the world’s largest farm-to-table food traceability program in Vietnam, with over 6,000 clients including major global food giants such as AEON, CP Group, Lotte Mart, and others.

In mid-November, another French retail giant Carrefour revealed it was implementing a blockchain-enabled food tracking platform powered by Hyperledger for tracing poultry in Spain.

Earlier in September, U.S. retail giant Walmart and its division Sam’s Club, a membership-only retail warehouse club, also announced that they will require suppliers of leafy greens to deploy farm-to-store tracking system based on blockchain.

In late November, a fintech expert predicted that market value of blockchain in global retail will see a 29-fold increase in value in the next 10 years.