In recent French news, Goldman Sachs CEO, David Solomon, revealed that the company is looking into developing its own cryptocurrency, like JP Morgan Chase. Also, the company is researching asset tokenization and stablecoins as such.
Recently a French news source Les Echos
did an interview with the CEO of Goldman Sachs, asking him about
cryptocurrencies and the companies plans regards them. He revealed
that they are working on and researching asset tokenization and
stablecoins in general. They are looking at JP Morgan Chase’s version
of a cryptocurrency and they “absolutely” would follow in
launching a similar cryptocurrency.
“Assume that all major financial institutions around the world are looking at the potential of tokenization, stablecoins and frictionless payments,” he commented.
He believes that that is the direction in which the payment system will go, hence stablecoins and asset tokenization. With an emphasis on “he believes”. Solomon commented this while he was asked to comment on the Facebook Libra project, which he refused, but answered: “I find the principle interesting.”
Crypto Regulation Is Coming
When asked about cryptocurrency regulation, he said that “a change is coming for sure”. What does he mean by that, we can only guess. It’s been already known for quite a while that multiple G-20 meetings have discussed the regulation of cryptocurrencies, but with no outcome. Possibly, this time they want to put a final decision on this issue.
“I think regulators around the world are watching what’s going on. They wonder how it will work and are very attentive to payment flows,” Solomon explained.
It is funny how companies quickly
change their mindsets. Just recently in January, JPMorgan Chase said
that crypto would only have value in a dystopian economy. Now they
are in the works of launching their JPM Coin. It will run on Quorum
which is a private version of Ethereum. The bank developed it in
conjunction with EthLab. The main intent for this bank-like crypto is
to settle portion of transactions between clients of its wholesale
payments business. JPMorgan revealed that they are beginning tests
with clients earlier this week.
Well not much for the banks, but this rather shows more about the great and interesting future we have ahead of us. Banks with these moves have acknowledged cryptocurrencies as such in the eyes of people who are not familiar with this matter. Payment systems will change, banks will try to offer something similar to cryptocurrencies, but eventually, people will realize – why do we need third parties, if we can do everything peer-to-peer?
Facebook just have released the whitepaper for their Libra project on libra.org, which is the official webpage for the social networks native cryptocurrency. Also, they presented Calibra, the digital wallet meant for the Libra currency. They are coming out with a bold statement to bank the unbanked.
Libra whitepaper has just been published and the main idea for Facebook is that you don’t have to have a Facebook account to use the cryptocurrency Libra. While Libra is only the currency, Facebook comes out also with The Libra Reserve, where all the funds are going to be stored and who provided them. Then there also is The Libra Blockchain, which, they say, is a decentralized database that will have the power to become the medium of exchange for billions of people.
Moreover, they have the Libra Asociacion which includes 28 founding members like Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Uber, Coinbase, Lyft, and others. Basically, they have brought all the best companies in every industry and put them together to work on this project. Now they have only 28 worldwide companies, but they plan to gather around 100 by the beginning of 2020 when they will launch the blockchain.
“Once the Libra network launches, Facebook, and its affiliates, will have the same commitments, privileges, and financial obligations as any other Founding Member. As one member among many, Facebook’s role in the governance of the association will be equal to that of its peers.”
While Facebook’s Libra coin will offer multiple options on what to do with it, their initial goal is to solve the international remittance problem in the world.
The whitepaper explains that Libra is made up of three parts:
“1. It is built on a secure, scalable, and reliable blockchain; 2. It is backed by a reserve of assets designed to give it intrinsic value; 3.It is governed by the independent Libra Association tasked with evolving the ecosystem.”
We’re yet to find out whether the blockchain is reliable, whether people will give this coin an intrinsic value, and how good of a job will the Libra Association do in governing the project.
A New Mobile Wallet – Calibra
While many of us were speculating whether Facebook will include their wallets within the actual social network or develop a separate wallet – well now we have the answer. Calibra will first serve as the digital wallet where users can store their Libra’s and exchange with each other. I guess it’s not much of a surprise that this will be a custodial wallet. Libra Association will govern this app, and eventually Calibra is meant to develop financial services and products around the Libra Network. Also, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp will serve as a functional wallet as well.
Facebook highlights the problem that around 1,7 billion people in the world are unbanked.
“For many people around the world, even basic financial services are still out of reach: almost half of the adults in the world don’t have an active bank account, and those numbers are worse in developing countries and even worse for women,” Calibra writes adding: “The cost of that exclusion is high – for example, approximately 70 percent of small businesses in developing countries lack access to credit, and $25 billion is lost by migrants every year through remittance fees.”
They also have provided screenshots and videos of the app, and it looks… just like any other crypto wallet ap. It has a very smooth sense to it, but in my humble opinion – nothing special. Also, their main goal which they actualize – I believe they are being a little bit hypocritical, because stablecoins and such digital currencies have been around for quite a while and solving the same thing they want to solve – international remittances. For example Ripple. They are leaving out the fact that this Libra project is backed by the largest corporations in the world and is fully centralized, not decentralized as they would want.
Now the Calibra wallet is just in a Testnet phase where it serves only like a wallet, but eventually, their plan is to allow users to pay for all sorts of services like bills and public transit. Some say that Facebook is entering the WeChat or Alipay market.
Everlong Regulatory Issues
This is where the regulations come in. Of course, they want to be regulated in every corner of the world, and they will, which makes this coin even more centralized as I thought before. Also, they explain that social profiles and financial data won’t be linked to the wallet or profile, but I don’t really believe it. There will definitely be an option where you can share all that data which will eventually be more beneficial in terms of app use. A rather weird statement to read was how Facebook said they won’t share any data or information about its users “unless required by law or for limited technical reasons.” That means that it is no different than a bank or any third-party instance which promises to keep your money safe.
However, the whitepaper says that “The Libra protocol does not link accounts to a real-world identity. A user is free to create multiple accounts by generating multiple key-pairs.”
But ultimately, the Calibra wallet will use similar verification and anti-fraud procedures that banks and credit card providers currently use, as well as systems to monitor accounts for unusual behavior in order to prevent fraudulent activity.
“The libra currency and reserve will enable people around the world to trade in one single native currency,” says David Marcus, Facebook’s head of blockchain, and now the head of Facebook’s newly created cryptocurrency subsidiary, Calibra. “What we’re hoping is we will have the ability to foster a lot of innovation in the ecosystem across all dimensions.”
The ECB Crypto-Assets task force group which over-watches the growth of cryptocurrencies and their potential impact on the financial system has published its May report on key events in the crypto industry.
Crypto is not a Threat to the Global Financial System
The authors of the document admit that the cryptocurrency market is currently not a threat to the EU or the global financial system. It looks like they made this conclusion when the market capitalization of virtual currencies was around $107 billion, in January 2019. However, this figure now has risen to $276.3 billion which is almost three times more than it was January.
The authors draw attention to the fact that the market capitalization of the crypto market accounts for only 4% of popular FAANG shares. Or in different measures – only 1% of EU GDP. However, despite the small share of this sector, in relation to the rest of the financial system, the ECB document still insists on a “united crypto regulation course”.
Other country regulations ineffective in the long run.
A number of uncoordinated and inconsistent approaches at other national levels may result in ineffectiveness, reads the document. The ECB considers that abandoning such an approach will result in regulatory acts disrupting “the stability of the financial system which is linked to the crypto asset market”.
For the time being, ECB researchers are the only group of regional regulators who examines cryptocurrencies as the threat of the existing financial system.
Not so long ago, the head of ECB Mario Draghi also announced that cryptocurrencies are a risky asset category, and in fact, it is not money. He then pointed out that “the size of the crypto market is not large enough for central banks to start the process of regulation”.
On May 2, the Estonian government approved the Ministry of Finance’s new laws on the fight against money laundering, terrorism, and state fees. These include strengthening the cryptocurrency circulation laws.
Priority Number One!
Financial Chief Executive Martins Helme believes that “one of the most important but not the last” step in this direction should be to tighten the conditions for virtual currency circulation and virtual wallet services.
The minister said: “The banking sector has learned a painful lesson and now we need to address new international risks, of which the risk of cryptocurrency is one of the most important.”
Moreover, he stressed that the fight against money laundering is one of the priorities of the new government. It started on Monday and will receive special attention.
Increasing fees and a background check
According to Helme, the licensing conditions will be changed for companies dealing with cryptocurrency exchange for cash and vice versa. Also, as well as for the license of a virtual wallet service provider. When issuing a license, the Money Laundering Data Bureau will check the biography and reputation of the company’s board members. To obtain the license, a foreign company will have to open a branch in Estonia. However, the license fee will increase from 345 to 3300 euros. Companies that already have a license will have to apply the requirements of the updated legislation.
Estonia – The Crypto Legislation Pioneer!
On April 24, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaida approved the new Estonian government with the head of the Center Party, Jiri Ratas.
In Europe, Estonia is a pioneer in the legislation development that favors the cryptocurrency sector. The small Baltic state was the first to issue operating licenses to cryptocurrency companies. Now the number of crypto-companies registered in Estonia is around 1000. The regulator issues two types of licenses. According to the Estonian news agency Err.ee – in 2018, Estonia licensed 444 wallet providers and 526 cryptocurrency trading platforms.
Estonia is known for its advanced electronic government infrastructure. Also, the country has a unique electronic residence program that provides individuals and corporations with access to fast and cheap services. The License process takes only two weeks. Compliance with legislation is an important precondition for obtaining an operating license.
Lithuania yet again plans to update regulations for ICOs (Initial Coin Offering), virtual currency exchanges and depository wallet operators. Also, they plan to introduce requirements for them to ensure effective prevention of money-laundering and terrorism funding.
Transparent legal environment
Sigitas Mitkus, director of the Finance Ministry’s financial market policy department commented on the issue. “We want to create a transparent legal environment for virtual currency exchanges, depository wallet operators and ICO initiators. We also want to contribute to ensuring better consumer protection,” he said in an interview.
Under these amendments, only legal entities and their branches registered with the Center of Registers will be able to act as operators. They will also have to execute the Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing. Also, they will have to check the clients’ identity and inform the Financial Crime Investigation Service about large financial transactions, he said.
It will be a requirement for companies to identify their clients and check their identity before providing services. However, this applies only if the operation value exceeds 1,000 euros. Also, they need to provide information to the FCIS, if the operation value is now less than 15,000 euros.
Going even further than EU directive
“By introducing limits for financial operations, we are going further beyond the EU directive. We will probably become the first in the world to implement the FATF (The Financial Action Task Force) recommendations and apply the requirements not only to the conversion of virtual currency to traditional ones and vice versa, but also when converting one virtual currency into another,” Mitkus said.
The amendments are aimed at transferring the fifth EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD 5) and the FATF recommendations, adopted in October, into Lithuanian law.
Lithuania is very actively trying to find a proper regulation for crypto!
At the beginning of this year, the Bank of Lithuania issued an updated document on its official position on cryptocurrency and Initial Coin Offerings (ICO). Arguing that financial market participants are still allowed to receive payments only in the traditional fiat currency and it is forbidden to receive payments in the cryptographic currency.
At the beginning of March, the Financial Transactions Working Group issued preliminary guidance on cryptographic currency. Urging states to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing. Also, to provide licensing in the crypto sector and adapt the “Know Your Customer” principle.
Judging by recent reports, G20 countries are about to regulate cryptocurrencies. They have signed a joint declaration in Buenos Aires which promises to regulate cryptocurrencies and combat its use for money laundering and financing terrorism. They will follow the standards of FATF (Financial Action Task Force).
“We will regulate crypto-assets for anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism in line with FATF standards, and we will consider other responses as needed,” reads the declaration.
G20 focus on crypto
According to the G20 declaration, the countries would also continue to monitor the global economy, which is rapidly digitalizing, adding that it “would seek a consensus-based solution to address the impacts of the digitization of the economy on the international tax system with an update in 2019 and a final report in 2020.”
The forum had commissioned its regulator. The Financial Stability Board (FSB), headed by Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, who is a fan of strict monitoring of the crypto markets to develop a framework for monitoring the crypto sector.
“The objective of the framework is to identify any emerging financial stability concerns in a timely manner. To this end, it includes risk metrics that are most likely to highlight suck risks, using data from public sources where available,” the FSB framework reads.
Regulate crypto just like they regulate banks?
However, This agreement comes as no surprise as the G20 had already announced the news earlier this year. Crypto enthusiasts were familiar with their willingness to regulate crypto-based assets by the end of this year. It is weird to see nations this big to brag about strictly regulating cryptocurrencies. Wouldn’t it be better to regulate banks and their fiat-based assets thoroughly first? Moreover, only then move on to regulating crypto? They are so concerned about money laundering or terrorism in crypto. Could it be that they don’t see further than their nose? Alternatively, if they are going to regulate crypto just like they are monitoring their banks, then there is no need for a regulation which doesn’t work. The incident with Danske Bank when billions of dollars were laundered through the bank still is believed to be one of the biggest in the world. The Danske scandal involved 32 currencies, companies from Cyprus, the British Virgin Islands and Seychelles. Customers of the Estonian branch have been traced to Russia, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine.
One scheme run through the branch reportedly involved Azerbaijan’s ruling elite, and a $2.9bn (£2.2bn) fund used to pay European politicians and lobbyists. Now tell me again – what were they going to regulate?
Malta is one of the world’s smallest and most densely populated countries. It has a population of 475,000 people. Also, Malta has become the worlds central hub for blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Two cryptocurrency exchange giants Binance and OKEx have announced that they are moving their offices to Malta. One of the main reasons why this is happening is because of Malta’s pro-crypto government, and especially Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. “These blockchain operating companies don’t care about our taxation system but are coming to Malta, because of our innovative regulatory structure that will certainly be the first, and I also think the best, in the world,” he once said in a political speech in Mqabba.
8,500 people attend the Malta Blockchain Summit
Last week was yet another giant step by Malta towards strengthening their Crypto Capital of the World title. Malta Blockchain Summit 2018 gathered more than 8500 people! People were waiting in long queues at the registration desk. More than 400 companies were exhibiting their products and services. The venue itself was two floored, and the exhibitions were everywhere. Almost half of them were juristic stands, where attendants could find out everything about Malta’s regulations on cryptocurrencies, ICOs, exchanges and crypto companies in general. Binance had a drone which was flying around the place. Cointelegraph, Bitfury, and Blackmoon were among the most popular exhibition stands.
Joseph Muscat, the Prime Minister, was a keynote speaker and emphasized that Malta is indeed an AI innovation hub. He referred to the island as “the island of opportunity,” and talked about the great opportunities that the Distributed Ledger Technology brings to Malta.
John McAfee, the leading crypto influencer, also was among the attendees and gave a short, but very substantial speech at the end of the conference. He spoke about poverty, wealth, wealth distribution, and the ways life has treated him. “We sit here, drinking, enjoying, and laughing. Wearing fine clothes, while 90% of the world lives in poverty. I know this because I have lived within it, and I have seen it. We live in a world where the “Haves” have everything, and the have-nots have nothing,” he said during his very influential speech.
The year of regulations
The overall feeling at the conference was pretty positive. A lot of crypto-enthusiasts were expecting this year to be the year of security tokens, but it turned out to be the year when crypto gets regulated from inside out. There were ideas that maybe we don’t need security tokens, that may be a more qualitative alternative would be utility tokens. Someone called security tokens an overhyped idea.
A lot of sarcastic talks about ICOs in general. People were expressing ideas that most of the ICOs haven’t yet delivered a working product, nor worked on developing their blockchain. Our friend Stefano Virgilli also did a presentation on the bizarre market of ICOs. He performed in a sarcastic and humorous way, in a result, the whole audience laughed for more than 10 minutes.
The positive feeling among the attendants also displayed the overall expectations for the crypto markets for the future. Everyone understands that significant investments are coming to crypto, but at the same time they are aware that the destination for these investments won’t be tokens or altcoins in general. Venture capitalists and new investors want to invest in regulated assets, so they “can sue them.” One venture capitalist said: “I’m going to invest only when I can sue you.”
Sophia – the AI citizen from SigularityNET
Yes, Sophia also was there and yet again showed off its communication skills. We were expecting much more. She (I’m not entirely sure you can refer to a robot as a “She”) answered a lot of basic questions and sounded like basically reading from Wikipedia. We had the impression that any built-in iOS or Android alternative is at the same level of knowledge. It is basically for raising awareness for the SingularityNET project. The conversations consisted of the moderator asking “her” questions like “Tell me something about” this or that, and the robot would answer monotonically. Then he went on asking “How do you know that?”, and the robot answered in a basic way – “Because you programmed it into my start package.” Kind of funny, but at the same time, didn’t show much progression.
Our friend and colleague Raitis Kaucis, the founder of Gagapay, Network.Guru and Dexopay also attended it, so we naturally asked him to share some of his insights from the conference. Raitis visits a lot of cryptocurrency and blockchain conferences almost daily, all around the world. This particular conference by his words was “one of the biggest” he has ever been in. The main topics coming out of the meeting was – you (your company) have to be regulated. The preconditions are to be governed. Otherwise, you no longer can operate in the crypto-ecosystem. Consequently, Raitis told us that his companies – Gagapay, Dexopay, and Network.Guru has handed in all the paperwork and started the process of registering within the legal borders of Malta.
Overall, a huge conference, with many industry professionals coming together, sharing ideas, experiences, meeting new business partners, registering their companies, and in general – making the future of cryptocurrencies.
On October 8, the head of securities regulator of The United Arab Emirates (UAE) have announced that they are going to introduce ICOs to provide companies with a new way to raise money.
Since the oil price has been low and the equity markets weak in the past years, IPOs have seen a severe downgrade in the UAE and the Gulf Arab region as a whole.
“The board of the Emirates Securities & Commodities Authority has approved considering ICOs as securities. As per our plan we should have regulations on the ground in the first half of 2019,” explained the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) in the United Arab Emirates, Obaid Saif Hamad Al Zaabi, continuing that “ESCA is drafting regulations for ICOs with international advisers and is working with the Abu Dhabi and Dubai stock markets to develop trading platforms for the offers.”
Basically they are calling all ICOs securities, which goes together with the U.S. SEC statement that ICOs can be securities only if they are “based on specific facts, and fall under the SEC’s jurisdiction of enforcing federal securities laws,” says in the definition by SEC.
This is an open statement to the crypto community, as a lot of people are disagreeing with the fact that all ICOs could be defined as securities. If so, that would mean that ICOs could fall under the regulatory rules for securities. And it looks like this could happen in the UAE, when the new law will take place in early 2019.
What do you think? Are all ICOs securities with a few exceptions?
During September 7 – 11, the ship will leave from Barcelona and travel across the mediterranean, visiting Monte Carlo and Italy, and later returning back to Barcelona.
This event has gained a huge recognition because of the speakers which are attending the event. They are: John McAfee, Bobby Lee, Charlie Lee, Brock Pierce, Roger Ver, Tone Vays, Travis Wright and many many more celebrities and people from media with a strong influence on cryptocurrencies in the crypto-sphere.
They will cover topics like investment and token sales – whether they’re dead or not, wether they’re risky, and in general about the truths of innovating a technology. Then they will talk about the state of blockchain, about the war between theory and practice, about real world applications for blockchain technology and how blockchain is empowering businesses and communities. The marketing of crypto-products will be discussed as well – how to merge a budget for your Blockchain project and etc. But blockchain isnt always about finance, so they are going to cover topics like – blockchain in game industries like e-sports and the evolution of it as a whole. One of the most interesting questions raised in the event agenda was – What spehere critically needs to be changed with blockchain technology? Really looking forward to that discussion.
Since the cruise will be attended by an Estonian ex-member of parliament, Taavi Roivas, one of the topics covered will be about crypto regulations in the US and abroad. Wether they’re equities or utilities etc.
And possibly the biggest set of topics is going to be about crypto in general. That is why the main title of this set is called “In Crypto we trust”. Under this segment they will discuss general things in crypto like the future of payments, scalability, trading, smart contracts, cybersecurity and about the BTC phenomenon.
Mostly it is a party and networking cruise with a few workshops and pool parties. The discussions will start at the second day when two short panel discussions will be held, and on day three there will be a large discussion panel from 9AM to 7PM with celebrity dinner afterwards.
Then on the 4thday there will be a special surprise for all the attendees. It will be a pool party with all the celebrities, BBQ, Sunset Lounge and many more for the attendees to party until the morning light.
When it comes to prices, at the moment there is a huge discount, but only for ladies, for 495 Euros, but from this I get that there is going to be a mens only party and now the organizers just want to dilute the guys crowd with a few ladies. But for all other mortals the prices vary from 1 995 Euros for a single person in a 3 guest room to 19 995 Euros for a Gold suite. The accepted payments are fiat and crypto.
This is definitely the crypto event of the year, where you will have the great opportunity to meet all the people running the crypto-sphere nowadays and maybe even engage in a discussion with them. A great party, with great information, and since this is the third time the organizers are hosting such an event a perfection is expected.