South Korean Presidential Committee Wants to Bring Crypto Into Mainstream Finance

In a new report, the Presidential Committee on the Fourth technological revolution (PCFIR) proposed the govt could move to bring cryptocurrencies into the mainstream of finance through variety of measures, including derivatives.

With cryptocurrency trading surging worldwide, “it is not any longer possible to prevent crypto-asset trade,” said the PCFIR, as per a report by Business Korea on Monday.

The committee said the govt could follow the lead of U.S. regulators and sanction products like futures contracts tied to bitcoin. Institutions would even be allowed to supply other cryptocurrency services like trading.

“The Korean government has got to gradually allow institutional investors to deal in crypto assets and promote over-the-counter (OTC) desks dedicated to institutional investors’ trade,” the committee said within the report.

To support such a move, the nation’s fintech sector should develop custody solutions for cryptocurrency to avoid a reliance on foreign custodians, said the PCFIR.

Addressing crypto exchanges, the committee said the govt should check out bringing during a licensing scheme or guidance. The industry is currently loosely controlled via guidance given to banks and a South Korean financial watchdog under the Financial Services Commission is additionally reportedly getting to directly supervise exchanges.

Other suggestions from the PCFIR included, notably, that bitcoin could be directly listed on Korea Exchange, the nation’s securities bourse, which the terms “cryptocurrency” and “virtual currency” might be brought together under the umbrella term crypto assets.

The PCFIR was found out in 2017 to advise on policies concerning new technologies and help lay the groundwork for related new industries and services.


Binance Adds Near-Instant UK Pound Payments in Latest Fiat Expansion

The company announced Wednesday the addition comes via a replacement partnership with fiat-to-crypto payments provider Banxa, which also allows the firm to supply Australian dollar and euro purchases directly from Binance’s website. The firm notes that the euro option is out there in “selected European countries” initially.

The announcement comes just each day after the exchange said it had been supporting deposits in Thai baht via a partnership with API solutions provider Satang Corp, also as fiat gateways for Polish zloty and Swedish krona .

All told, the firm’s fiat payment options now come to 21 currencies after a shift faraway from purely crypto-to-crypto trading that began last autumn.

“We believe fiat will co-exist with crypto for an extended time to return ,” Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao said within the announcement. “More than 99.9 percent of the worldwide funds remains in fiat and that we got to continue building bridges to enable easier flow into crypto.”

Binance plans to feature support for “all 180 fiat currencies” during 2020, CZ added.

In other Binance news, the exchange says it’s put up $1 million in its BNB token to kick-start a donations program which will fund relief for areas hit by Australia’s bushfires. Supporters can make donations in BNB via a fanatical website here.


Bitcoin May Follow Gold With Significant Price Breakout Jan 8, 2020 at 11:00 UTC

Bitcoin hit seven-week highs during the Asian trading hours and will extend the rally to a key Fibonacci hurdle above $8,600.
A weekly close (Sunday, UTC) above $7,960 looks likely and would confirm a falling channel breakout on the weekly chart and signal a revival of the Bull Run from lows near $4,100 seen in April 2019.
Gold witnessed a channel breakout at the top of December and has rallied by quite $100 ever since.
Acceptance below $8,000 would weaken the chances of channel breakout in the week .
Bitcoin jumped to seven-week highs early Wednesday and appears on target to verify a big price breakout almost like that seen by gold.

According to CoinDesk’s Bitcoin price level , the amount one cryptocurrency by market price rose to $8,463 – the very best level since Nov. 18 – during the Asian trading hours as Iran launched retaliatory attacks on the American bases in Iraq.

While bitcoin rallied to multi-week highs, gold, a classic haven asset, jumped above $1,600 for the primary time since 2013. Other anti-risk assets like Japanese yen, Swiss franc and U.S. bonds also drew bids.

The safe-haven narrative surrounding bitcoin has strengthened with the cryptocurrency gaining ground in tandem with gold since Friday.

The alpha-beta brass found takers near $1,530 on Friday after the U.S. killed a top Iranian military commander and rose to a high of $1,611 earlier today. Meanwhile, bitcoin turned higher from lows near $6,850 on Friday and has gained quite 20 percent since.

The cryptocurrency now looks set to require a page out of gold’s book and ensure a falling channel breakout on the weekly chart.

Bitcoin and gold weekly charts

As are often seen, both assets had a troublesome time within the last half of 2019.

Gold (above right) topped out at $1,557 at the top of August and fell to lows below $1,450 in November, creating a falling channel on the weekly chart. The channel was breached on the upper side within the last week of December with a convincing move above $1,483. The breakout signaled a resumption of the rally from lows near $1,270 seen in April and since then, the alpha-beta brass has rallied by quite 8 percent.

Bitcoin’s weekly chart (above left) also shows a falling channel, which represents the sell-off from the June 2019 high of $13,880 to the low of $6,425 reached in December.

The cryptocurrency is currently trading above the falling channel resistance of $7,960. A breakout would be confirmed if prices close the week (Sunday, UTC) above $7,960. that might imply a continuation of the rally from April 2019 low of $4,100 and open the doors for a re-test of $13,880.

A breakout looks likely with bullish developments on key technical indicators.

Weekly and daily chart

Bitcoin’s rise to seven-week highs has confirmed seller exhaustion signaled by multiple long-tailed weekly candles and therefore the bullish divergence of the MACD histogram, an indicator wont to gauge trend strength and identify trend changes.

A bullish divergence occurs when an indicator produces higher lows, contradicting lower lows on price and is taken into account an advance warning of an impending bullish reversal. The MACD has charted higher lows since early December.

Meanwhile, the daily chart is reporting an inverse head-and-shoulders breakout, also a bullish reversal pattern. The recent rally looks to possess legs, as buying volumes (not shown) have risen over the previous couple of days and therefore the MACD is charting higher bars above the zero line, signaling a strengthening of bullish momentum.

All-in-all, the chances appear stacked in favor of an increase to $8,626 – the 61.8 percent Fibonacci retracement of the sell-off from $10,350 to $6,425.

The odds of bitcoin confirming a channel breakout this coming Sunday would drop if prices find acceptance below $8,000 with high volumes.

That said, stronger buying pressure could emerge within the subsequent weeks, yielding a breakout, as miner reward halving (supply-cutting event) is due in May.

At press time, bitcoin is changing hands at $8,340, representing a 5.4 percent gain on a 24-hour basis.

Disclosure: The author doesn’t currently hold any digital assets.


Former Bakkt CEO to assist Oversee CFTC in Congress

The newly appointed senator, Kelly Loeffler (R., Ga.), will serve on the Senate Agricultural Committee, which is liable for defining the CFTC’s remit and approving nominations for commissioners and chairmen. It also includes reauthorizing the CFTC as a federal regulator.

Loeffler was appointed CEO of Bakkt when it launched under its parent company Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) in August 2018. Under her leadership, Bakkt received approval from the CFTC to start trading physically-settled bitcoin contracts, finally opening to traders in September. Loeffler, who only resigned her position in December to travel into politics, is additionally married to Jeffrey Sprecher, the founder, chairman, and chief executive of ICE.

Amid concerns her appointment would create a conflict of interest, Loeffler told the Wall Street Journal she had “worked hard to suits both the letter and therefore the spirit of the Senate’s ethics rules and can still do so every day”.

“I will recuse myself if needed on a case by case basis,” she said.

Loeffler grew abreast of her family’s farm in Illinois – a fact that’s been emphasized in her marketing materials since Georgia Governor Brian Kemp first announced her appointment in December.

ICE is that the second-largest exchange operator by market capitalisation . The company’s expansion into bitcoin last year came after the CME Group started offering its own cash-settled futures in December 2017. ICE’s annual report said many of its exchanges were “subject to extensive regulation by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.”

According to regulatory filings, Sprecher features a 1.1 percent equity stake in ICE worth almost $600 million supported the present market value .

The CFTC has treated bitcoin and a few other cryptocurrencies as commodities since a ruling in 2015. More recently, it investigated allegations against crypto derivatives platform BitMEX and suggested U.S. regulated ether futures could launch sometime in 2020.

Regulatory concerns lay behind the nine-months delay to Bakkt’s launch. chatting with CoinDesk in April, Christopher Giancarlo, the CFTC’s then-chairman, hinted about concerns surrounding the exchange’s decide to self-custody bitcoin also as clear trades through its parent company’s clearinghouse.

At the time, Loeffler said the exchange would “continue to figure with regulators to deal with the emerging global landscape for digital assets.”


ESMA Wants to make ‘Sound Legal Framework’ for Cryptocurrencies in 2020

ESMA published its 2020-2022 priorities list Thursday, noting that EU capital markets face new risks from digitalization. The organization wants market participants to acknowledge and steel oneself against these apparent risks.

“The dangers of cyberthreats to the economic system as an entire and a sound legal framework for crypto-assets are increasingly becoming areas of focus for ESMA along side the opposite ESAs, the ESRB, the ECB and therefore the European Commission,” the document reads.

ESMA has been grappling with the question of the way to regulate cryptocurrencies and securities within the space for years, developing rules for initial coin offerings and derivatives round the space.


North Korean Hackers Now Using Telegram to Steal Crypto: Kaspersky

Moscow-based Kaspersky Labs has been analyzing new attacks from the Lazarus Group, a cybercrime group with links to North Korea , to work out how its techniques have developed since the AppleJesus attack on several cryptocurrency exchanges in 2018.

In research published Wednessday, the cybersecurity firm said there are “significant changes to the group’s attack methodology.”

One case study involved what seemed to be a software update for a fake cryptocurrency wallet that, once downloaded, began to transmit user data to hackers. Another example involved creating a backdoor for Mac software that bypassed security mechanisms without the pc ever being aware it had been under fire .

A seemingly new attack vector has been to deliver malware via files distributed on the Telegram messaging app. Researchers found computers downloaded manipulated software, which originated from the group’s website, with embedded malware that might send sensitive data to hackers without the victim even being aware.

Many of those channels were for fake cryptocurrency companies, presumably found out by the hackers themselves. One recently detected fake site was for a “smart cryptocurrency arbitrage trading platform.” Kaspersky researchers found these websites were often incomplete and crammed with broken links, apart from those that took visitors to the Telegram channel.

Kaspersky said it had been ready to identify “several victims” from Poland, Russia, China and therefore the U.K., most with links to cryptocurrency businesses.

But Lazarus itself remains a mystery. By running malware through memory instead of a tough disc drive , the group generally avoids detection. Although the group is widely believed to be affiliated with North Korea , the secretive regime has repeatedly denied responsibility for its attacks.

Cybersecurity firm Group-IB estimated the group stole nearly $600 million worth of cryptocurrency in 2017 and most of 2018. Because its attacks are so successful, Kaspersky researchers are convinced the group will continue stealing cryptocurrency. “This quite attack on cryptocurrency businesses will continue and become more sophisticated,” the report reads.

The U.S. Department for Treasury placed the Lazarus group on the U.S. sanctions list in 2019, meaning that any financial organization found handling it faces sanctions. This week, ethereum developer Virgil Griffith was indicted by U.S. authorities for speaking at a conference in North Korea . If found guilty, he faces up to twenty years in prison.


SEC Charges Man Behind Alleged Crypto Mining Scam

In a filing Jan 8, the SEC alleged Blackstad, 60, bilked over $3.5 million from investors of three separate firms: an oil and gas company; a vehicle parts holding company; and “Energy Sources International” (ESI), a purported cryptocurrency company whose Las Vegas datacenter has just one employee: Blakstad.

The crypto mining operation specifically took in some $550,000 from five separate investors, all of whom were told by Blakstad their capital would cover equipment costs. However, the SEC alleges Blakstad instead used nearly half the cash for himself at casinos, restaurants and hotels.

The regulator further alleges Blakstad maintained the ruse by issuing each of the five investors $60,000 checks as returns on their investments.

Blakstad was previously charged in July during a separate trading scheme worth $6.2 million.


China’s Central Bank: Here’s the newest on the Digital Yuan

In a statement (in Chinese) Thursday, the bank said the “processes of top-level design, setting industry standards, developing potential functions and integration testing,” were “almost complete.”

The bank said it’s been performing on the expected two-tiered system that might offer “controllable” anonymity and therefore the functionality to exchange paper cash.

The financial institution , which assembled a special task force to conduct research on digital currencies and established the Research Institute of Digital Currency, both in 2014, accelerated its digital yuan work after Facebook unveiled its digital currency project Libra in June.

As far because the financial institution cares , DCEP beats Libra in terms of major technical features like the power to process transactions offline on mobile phones. It also claims one among the goals for the digital yuan is to market the internationalization of the renminbi since it are often utilized in cross-border payments without browsing banking intermediaries that charge a fee and take longer to process these transactions.

The statement didn’t say when the work on the digital yuan was expected to be completed.


PwC Switzerland Incorporates ChainSecurity Team to Expand Blockchain Audit Tools

In what looks like a purchase altogether but name, the seven technical engineers are joining the firm to bolster PwC Switzerland’s smart contract audit abilities.

After being spun out of Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zürich) in October 2017, ChainSecurity has conducted quite 75 smart contract and blockchain audits globally and has had an extended relationship with PwC Switzerland — the corporate within the PwC network employed by the Tezos Foundation for its external audit. Last year, ChainSecurity discovered a problem that delayed the Constantinople hard fork and issues with the Istanbul hard fork.

The team will still collaborate with the federal institute and work with its new employer to upgrade PwC Switzerland’s tools and make them more compatible with formal verification, or the mathematical proofs that test mission-critical ASCII text file to make sure it operates as programmers intended.

“For smart contracts generally , one can say that they represent modern business logic for companies,” said Hubert Ritzdorf, former chief technology officer at ChainSecurity and technical lead for smart contract assurance at PwC Switzerland. “If a stablecoin features a bug, you’ll create coins that aren’t properly backed by collateral.”

While formal verification was a part of the team’s product suite before joining PwC, Ritzdorf and his colleagues decide to expand their offerings within the next generation of their products.

Usually tools that employ formal verification are utilized in high-risk industries like airplane engineering and spaceflight where organizations including Boeing or NASA use them, Ritzdorf added. within the crypto industry, where money is represented by digital units and dictated by code, traditional firms and start-ups are using formal verification to make sure it’s impossible that users can spend what they are doing n’t have or lose what they do have.

The players in crypto that seek formal verification tend to be more serious, like companies handling decentralized finance or stablecoins, said Daryl Hok, chief operating officer of blockchain cybersecurity company CertiK. The Libra Association also plans to make automated formal verification for its programing language , Move.

“We’re seeing more and more projects seeking out the rigor that formal verification provides,” Hok said. “Those are usually self-selecting and have a tendency to be the foremost equipped teams and have enough capital to try to to this stuff .”

The clients that come to PwC Switzerland for blockchain audits tend to be majority enterprises from banking, manufacturing and trading, said Andreas Eschbach, partner and leader of risk assurance for PwC Switzerland and Europe.

“It has grown out of the startups and is becoming popular among companies that are around 80 years plus,” Eschbach said.

With the legal expertise of PwC, the ChainSecurity team can go further than it had been ready to before in its analysis of smart contracts.

“The compliance step was always hard for us to try to to ,” Ritzdorf said. “We just wrote down technically what the smart contract does and had to travel to a firm to see if it had been legally compliant.”


SEC Produces Evidence That Telegram Kept Selling Tokens After $1.7B ICO

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which filed the documents Friday in its ongoing court case against Telegram, said the evidence of post-ICO sales undercuts the company’s argument that the offering was exempt from registration requirements.

Investment fund Leonardo Capital and another entity called Gem Limited requested commissions of $209,783 and $1.1 million, respectively, for “subsequent sales” of purchase agreements for grams, the longer term tokens for Telegram’s blockchain project TON, the filings show.

According to the invoices presented by the SEC, Leonardo Capital sold over $2 million worth of grams to a fund managed by its portfolio company, ITI Funds, on June 20, 2018. Gem Limited sold 7.8 million euros ($8.6 million) worth of grams to a firm named Goliat Solutions and $4.5 million to Space Investments Limited on July 2, 2018.

Both sales happened after the offering of grams, which Telegram maintains was exempt from registration under Regulation D, was completed in February and March 2018.

Da Vinci Capital’s investment director Denis Efremov declined to comment. Gem Limited was unavailable for comment at press time.

The filings joined a huge trove of documents the SEC has submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of latest York to support its allegation that grams were illegally sold as unregistered securities, which Telegram has denied.

“These documents undermine Telegram’s claimed affirmative defense that the Offering was exempt under Regulation D. First, Telegram either raised quite the $1.7 billion that it claimed an exemption, or it didn’t raise $1.7 billion as of March 29, 2018 and therefore the later funds may are raised through underwriters,” an earlier SEC filing said, pertaining to the invoices.

The SEC’s argument is that under Regulation D, the issuer should take reasonable steps to make sure the purchasers don’t act as statutory underwriters (i.e. aren’t selling securities for the issuer for commissions), said Philip Moustakis, a counsel at Seward & Kissel and former senior counsel at the SEC.

In this case, the regulator is saying the businesses that invoiced Telegram did exactly that, while Telegram argues that the commissions were finders’ fees to non-U.S. persons and entities for introducing grams to other investors, Moustakis said.

Telegram raised $1.7 billion within the pre-sale of future tokens of the TON project in February and March 2018. the acquisition agreement prohibited investors from reselling their grams, but a secondary market emerged soon anyway. However, there have been previously no public indications of Telegram’s approval of the later sales.

The SEC sued Telegram in October, ordering it to halt the launch of TON. The regulator is about to satisfy Telegram in court on Feb 18-19.

In the meantime, the SEC requested full banking records of Telegram regarding the token sale proceeds. On Jan. 9, Telegram asked the judge to grant the corporate five to seven weeks to organize the documents to avoid privacy infringement.