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World’s First Zero-Fiat ‘Bitcoin Bond’ Now Available on Bloomberg Terminal

Argento and LBX say their regulated product is unique in not involving fiat at any stage.

Two European companies have launched what they describe as the world’s first genuine bitcoin (BTC) bond, they confirmed in a joint press release on July 3. 

Luxembourg-based Argento, a securitization firm, joined forces with London Block Exchange (LBX) to issue the bitcoin-denominated bond, which is regulated under the United Kingdom’s regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

“We are thrilled to have structured and produced the world’s first institutional grade bitcoin-denominated financial product,” Argento manager Phil Millo commented. 

“The large investment banks really dropped the ball on this one.”

The Argento-LBX bond represents a first in regulated cryptocurrency products, in that it contains no fiat exposure for investors. It is readily available via Bloomberg Terminal, and is the first crypto product to have its own ISIN code. 

Various durations are available, Argento conspicuously naming them after crypto-specific phenomena such as ‘FOMO,’ ‘HODL’ and ‘MOON.’

HODLers, LBX says, form one of the bond’s major target markets.

“This is an excellent product for people who currently hold bitcoin and aren’t planning to sell over the next few years…,” CEO Benjamin Davies added. 

“Now, for the first time, they have an institutional grade way of making their wallets grow without exposing their bitcoin to the swings of the traditional ‘fiat’ currency markets.”

Previously, the governments of several developing nations had told the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that they were keen on issuing bonds tied to bitcoin.

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Opposition Politicians Demand Details on Luxembourg E-Government Plan for Blockchain, AI

Opposition politicians in Luxembourg have sought details regarding the current government’s e-government plan that involves blockchain tech and AI.

Opposition party members in the Luxembourg parliament are demanding specifics from the prime minister on a proposed e-government plan, according to a report by the Luxembourg Times on May 24.

The plan reportedly centers on the implementation of blockchain technology, as well as artificial intelligence (AI) in government administration. The seat of the newly-created government position Minister for digitalization, Marc Hansen, said there will be an emphasis on improving data storage and transmission in the government with blockchain technology.

Laurent Mosar, a prominent member of the opposition Christian Democrats party, has asked for Prime Minister Xavier Bettel to provide specifics on various aspects of the plan. Mosar sought clarification on who in the private sector would partner with the government to develop the technology, which areas of the public sector would benefit, and actual deadlines for the projects.

According to the report, the e-government plans regarding AI were similarly vague, and government spokespersons declined to comment when asked for the AI project budget.

As recently reported by Cointelegraph, Luxembourg lawmakers passed a bill for facilitating blockchain tech in the financial sector this February. The new bill reportedly provides legal certainty with respect to blockchain-based securities in circulation, as well as the same legal protection for financial transactions on the blockchain as accorded to fiat transfers.

A number of governments around the world are reportedly in the planning or implementation stage of rolling out blockchain strategies, such as New Zealand, Germany, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates.

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Europol Shuts Down $200 Million Crypto Mixing Service Bestmixer

A Dutch investigation agency and Europol have shut down a $200 million crypto tumbler for being involved in money laundering.

Dutch, Luxembourg authorities and Europol have shut down one of the three largest cryptocurrency tumblers, Europol reported on May 22.

A cryptocurrency tumbler, also known as a cryptocurrency mixing service, is an anonymity tool that claims to transform transactions of non-private coins to private ones by mixing crypto funds with others, which makes it difficult to track the funds’ original source.

According to the report, the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD) has now seized six servers of major crypto tumbler Bestmixer.io, which had a reported turnover of at least $200 million since its launch in May 2018. The service was purportedly one of the three largest mixing services for cryptocurrencies including bitcoin (BTC), litecoin (LTC), bitcoin cash (BCH) and others.

After initiating an investigation back in June 2018, the FIOD, along with Europol and Luxembourg authorities, have banned the platform, as they found that a large number of mixed coins on Bestmixer came from criminal activity and were allegedly used for money laundering or illegal financing.

History of Cryptocurrency Laundering Service Bestmixer.io

As Europol noted, Bestmixer’s closure is the first legal enforcement action of its nature against a cryptocurrency tumbler. At press time, the Bestmixer website is not operating, with a FIOD notice claiming “you are not anonymous.”

Bestmixer

Screenshot of Bestmixer website at press time

The FIOD reportedly collected data on all the transactions on the platform in the past year, including chat messages, bitcoin addresses, IP-addresses and more. The authority is planning to analyze the acquired information and share the results with other countries, Europol noted.

At press time, a number of crypto mixers can be found online, including ChipMixer, BitMix.Biz and BitBlender, among others.

Recently, Europol and German police seized the servers of a dark web marketplace, taking six figures in crypto from the arrested suspects.

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Luxembourg’s Financial Regulator Issues Warning Against Cryptocurrencies and ICOs

The Luxembourg Financial Regulator CSSF issued a warning against investments in cryptocurrencies and ICOs (Initial Coin Offering), Cointelegraph auf Deutsch reported today, March 17.  

In the official warning the authority notes that cryptocurrencies are not backed by any central bank, and warns against the volatility of virtual currencies, stressing that deals are often not entirely transparent and business models are incomprehensible. It warned of the absence of consumer protection and the risk of theft, since cryptocurrency exchanges may be vulnerable to hackers. Furthermore, according to the regulator, information about cryptocurrencies is “often incomplete, difficult to understand or does not reflect the risks of cryptocurrencies”.

The CSSF specifically hones in on their perceived risks of investing in ICOs. According to the authority, the ICO model is unproven and lacks verifiable information about the tokens and the money collected.

The Luxembourg regulator also made a point of saying that it was not concerned about Blockchain technology in use cases apart from cryptocurrencies, noting that Blockchain “could bring certain advantages in their use in the financial sector and in different innovative projects.”

In addition to the CSSF, other European government regulators have also expressed skepticism about cryptocurrencies and ICOs recently. In Fall 2017, the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) indicated that the purchase of coins or tokens sold in ICOs entails significant risks for investors and described ICOs as “highly speculative investments”. In November 2017, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) also warned investors about the high risks of the ICOs.

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Cryptocurrency Exchange BitFlyer Launches New EU Branch

Japan-based bitcoin exchange operator bitFlyer has set up shop in Europe, having already expanded to the U.S last year.

The exchange announced yesterday that it had received a payment institution (PI) license to operate its services in the European Union and is initially seeking to attract professional, high-volume traders – a sector it sees as underserved in the EU.

In an announcement, Andy Bryant, COO of the new European branch of the exchange, said:

“Through our web interface or API, traders can get up and running quickly and benefit from some of the most robust systems, highest speeds and an interface designed with their specific needs in mind.”

BitFlyer is currently the sixth largest exchange by bitcoin trading volume (BTC/JPY), according to data from CoinMarketCap. Further, it claims to be the first bitcoin exchange to be regulated in Japan, the U.S. and, now, Europe.

The payment institution license was granted by Luxembourg regulator, the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF), and the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology Foundation (LHoFT).

Luxembourg’s Minister of Finance Pierre Gramegna was quoted as saying, “We’re delighted that one of the most successful Japanese startups chose Luxembourg as their EU platform.”

Kicking off with just the BTC/EUR trading pair, bitFlyer indicated it is also planning to add more cryptocurrency options, including litecoin, ethereum, ethereum classic and bitcoin cash, later this year. To bring in new EU-based customers, the branch has rolled out zero percent trading fees as an introductory offer until the end of February.

BitFlyer launched officially in the U.S. last November, after receiving approval from regulators including the New York State Department of Financial Services.

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in bitFlyer.

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The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at news@coindesk.com.

Disclaimer: This article should not be taken as, and is not intended to provide, investment advice. Please conduct your own thorough research before investing in any cryptocurrency.

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Cambridge Blockchain Joins Government-Backed DLT Group in Luxembourg

Digital identity startup Cambridge Blockchain is opening a new office in Paris.

The Massachusetts-based firm is setting up shop at at a startup campus founded by Partech Ventures, which invested in Cambridge Blockchain’s $2 million funding round earlier this year.

That the startup would move to establish a more solid presence in Europe is perhaps unsurprising. Cambridge Blockchain has looked to the financial sector as the primary market for its digital identity solutions, with a particular focus on Europe.

In May, Cambridge Blockchain announced that it was working with LuxTrust, a major digital identity firm backed by the government of Luxembourg, on a new blockchain-powered platform. That relationship with Luxembourg is deepening, as Cambridge Blockchain today said that it was joining the Infrachain initiative, a nonprofit group formed earlier this year by a number of companies with the backing of the country’s government.

Other members include LuxTrust and professional services firms KPMG and Deloitte, among others. With Cambridge Blockchain’s inclusion, that effort has now expanded beyond Luxembourg.

“Thanks to the support of Partech Ventures and Infrachain, we are positioned to tackle the banking industry’s greatest threat: the cost of regulatory compliance,” Matthew Commons, Cambridge Blockchain’s CEO, said in a statement.

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Cambridge Blockchain.

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The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at [email protected].