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Bitcoin News Cryptocurrency News Ethereum News Litecoin News

Gemini Unveils Plans For Credit Card With Crypto Rewards

Gemini, a crypto exchange and custodian, today announced that it will launch the Gemini Credit Card, a credit card with cryptocurrency rewards. This effort has been accelerated by the acquisition of Blockrize, a fintech startup that has been building a credit card with cryptocurrency rewards. In preparation for launch later this year, Gemini has opened the Gemini Credit Card waitlist — providing Gemini customers, and those already on the Blockrize waitlist, with early access.

By combining Gemini’s simple, reliable, and safe platform with Blockrize’s rewards program, card holders will be able to seamlessly earn up to 3 percent back in bitcoin, or other cryptos, on every purchase they make with the Gemini Credit Card.

“The Gemini Credit Card will make it easier for any consumer to invest in bitcoin and other cryptos without changing their existing behavior, ” said Tyler Winklevoss, CEO of Gemini. “Rather than deciding how and when to buy crypto, customers can do so when making their everyday purchases. We’re excited to welcome the Blockrize team to Gemini and work together to continue to mainstream crypto.”

Those who join the waitlist, and the more than 10,000 people already on the Blockrize waitlist, will get early access. The Gemini Credit Card will work like a traditional credit card. It will be available to U.S. residents in every state and will be widely accepted wherever major cards are accepted. Rewards will be automatically deposited into a cardholder’s Gemini account.

For Gemini users or others interested in signing up to the waitlist, please visit: https://gemini.com/credit-card/waitlist. To sign up for a Gemini account visit: https://exchange.gemini.com/register.

This is Gemini’s second acquisition, following its acquisition of Nifty Gateway in November of 2019. Gemini continues to look for companies that align with its values and mission to empower the individual through crypto.

About Gemini

Gemini Trust Company, LLC (Gemini) is a cryptocurrency exchange and custodian that allows customers to buy, sell, and store more than 30 cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ether, litecoin, and Zcash. Gemini is a New York trust company that is subject to the capital reserve requirements, cybersecurity requirements, and banking compliance standards set forth by the New York State Department of Financial Services and the New York Banking Law. Gemini was founded in 2014 by twin brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss to empower the individual through crypto.

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Blockchain News

Future FinTech To Acquire 60% of Blocknance

Future FinTech Group Inc. (NASDAQ: FTFT) a leading blockchain e-commerce company and a service provider for financial technology, today announced it has signed a term sheet with Blocknance Financial International SRL (“Blocknance”), a company incorporated in the Dominican Republic and the selling shareholders of Blocknance on December 30, 2020. Pursuant to the Term Sheet, the Company plans to acquire 60% of the total issued and outstanding shares of Blocknance.

Blocknance provides services for transactions between Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies, such as Dominican Peso, US dollar, Euro and Russian Ruble for customers through Bitcoin ATM machines and physical offices. All ATMs and physical offices are currently located in Santo Domingo, Punta Cana, La Romana, and Santiago de los Caballeros in the Dominican Republic.

Blocknance is headquartered in the Dominican Republic. Its subsidiary Cryptocana SRL works with financial consulting companies to help clients buy, rent and sell residential, commercial, local and international real estate using cryptocurrencies; another subsidiary Blockchain Finance International Inc. is registered in Wyoming, US and officially registered as a Money Service Business (MSB) which is regulated and administered by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). According to the framework agreement, the current total valuation of Blocknance is $1.6 million. Future FinTech or its wholly-owned subsidiary plans to acquire 60% of Blocknance through cash and shares with a purchase price of US $960,000. Future FinTech reserves the right to purchase additional shares from the seller.

Emmy Jude Fortune, the General Manager of Blocknance, stated, “Blocknance is one of the most advanced, semi-decentralized cryptocurrency exchange platforms on the market today. It provides a safe way to exchange Bitcoin and cryptocurrency with fiat currencies for individuals who want to use them to buy and sell goods or services and is the largest Bitcoin transaction service provider in the Caribbean. With the help of our new ATMs, more and more people use cryptocurrency for transactions. Our Punta Cana and Santiago office provides services to more than 10,000 tourists every year, because most tourists do not have local bank accounts. Our physical offices or ATMs provide convenient two-way exchange services of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency to fiat currencies for tourists. Blocknance plans to increase the number of Bitcoin ATMs and expand them to Europe, Asia and other regions pursuant to local regulatory requirements in 2021. FTFT has a great management team in financial services and blockchain technology. The union with FTFT can rapidly expand our operations, continuously improve customer experience and satisfaction, increase service scenarios, and meet the needs of more and diversified customers. “

Shanchun Huang, Chief Executive Officer of Future FinTech said, “Blockchain technology and its application is an important strategic segment and business component of FTFT. Building a complete blockchain financial service system is an important development plan of FTFT. We have been looking for valuable blockchain technology companies to dock with our existing resources. When Bitcoin holders could convert Bitcoin into cash at ATM as Blocknance does in Dominican Republic, cryptocurrency will be gradually accepted by more and more people. We believe that the investment in Blocknance can further expand our business, bring additional income to the Company, and we hope to eventually create a channel that can connect Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies with the services of mainstream financial institutions under applicable laws and regulations. “

About Future FinTech Group Inc.

Future FinTech Group Inc. is a leading blockchain e-commerce company and a service provider for financial technology incorporated in Florida. The Company’s operations include a blockchain-based online shopping mall platform, Chain Cloud Mall (“CCM”), a cross-border e-commerce platform (NONOGIRL), an incubator for blockchain based application projects. The Company is also engaged in the development of blockchain based e-Commerce technology as well as financial technology.

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Blockchain News Cryptocurrency News

The US Treasury OCC Issues New Guidance Allowing US Banks To Use Public Blockchains And Stablecoins As A Payment Method

One Major Step Closer To Mass Adoption

Right in accordance with our forecast that 2021 will be a tremendous year for cryptocurrency building into the next 4-year cycle high due in December, the U.S. Treasury of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has just announced that national banks and federal savings associations can treat public blockchains as infrastructure similar to SWIFT, ACH and FedWire. In addition, stablecoins like USDC can be used as electronic stored value as well as a payment method.

The significance of this is simply astounding.  

This places blockchain and cryptocurrencies on a path towards all major financial and economic activity being executed on-chain. It is extremely encouraging to see such forward thinking support from the largest regulator of national banks in the United States.

The new guidance from the OCC provides assurance for banking institutions:

WASHINGTON—The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) today published a letter clarifying national banks’ and federal savings associations’ authority to participate in independent node verification networks (INVN) and use stablecoins to conduct payment activities and other bank-permissible functions.

“While governments in other countries have built real-time payments systems, the United States has relied on our innovation sector to deliver real-time payments technologies. Some of those technologies are built and managed by bank consortia and some are based on independent node verification networks such as blockchains,” said Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian P. Brooks. “The President’s Working Group on Financial Markets recently articulated a strong framework for ushering in an era of stablecoin-based financial infrastructure, identifying important risks while allowing those risks to be managed in a technology-agnostic way. Our letter removes any legal uncertainty about the authority of banks to connect to blockchains as validator nodes and thereby transact stablecoin payments on behalf of customers who are increasingly demanding the speed, efficiency, interoperability, and low cost associated with these products.”

The agency letter concludes a national bank or federal savings association may validate, store, and record payments transactions by serving as a node on an INVN. Likewise, a bank may use INVNs and related stablecoins to carry out other permissible payment activities. In deploying these technologies, a bank must comply with applicable law and safe, sound, and fair banking practices.
You can read the full statement here.

After years of patience, 2021 could very well be the year of celebration in the world of crypto.

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Cryptocurrency News Ethereum News Litecoin News

Bittrex Announces Delisting 3 Privacy Coins

Cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex announced impending delistings of three privacy cryptocurrencies as of Jan. 15.

As privacy coins, the three fit into a category that is increasingly under threat from government regulators worldwide.

A not-so-Happy New Year for privacy enthusiasts?

On Jan. 1, the Bittrex cryptocurrency exchange posted a notice on their website that effective Jan. 15, Monero, Dash, and ZCash would be removed from their trading platform. These three are privacy tokens, which anonymize transactions.

The notice states:

You must perform any trades with these tokens no later than Friday, January 15, 2021, 23:00 UTC.

After the markets are removed, Bittrex generally seeks to provide users up to 30 days to withdraw any delisted tokens, but in certain instances the withdrawal period may be shortened. Users should withdraw any tokens before the posted withdrawal deadline.

Privacy tokens, as the name suggests, are relatively difficult for investigators to track. Their use is rising, and some tokens have been in regulators’ sights for a while.

Back in November, Bittrex announced the delisting of 23 tokens for a variety of performance or regulatory issues. The exchange also singled out Grin at that time as a possible target for future delisting. Readers should note that Bittrex also pointed to MEME and VRC for possible delisting.

Bounty program

 In Sep. 2020,  the Internal Revenue Service of the US government offered  up to $625,000 to the team(s) that could crack Monero’s or the Lightning Network’s encryption. The announcement carried a sense of urgency, considering that tight time frames were included in the rules. In particular, Monero seems to be a thorn in the regulators’ side. The request for proposals specified that a Lightning Network on Bitcoin monitoring tool already existed. However, tools for Lightning on Litecoin and on Ethereum were needed. 

Europe is seriously determined to thwart privacy.

In October, EUROPOL, the EU’s united policing body, released the Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA) for 2020. Privacy coins ranked among the top threats. Mixing services and anonymization are evolving, the report noted. Moreover, crypto-enabled crime adapts quickly to the changing landscape.

Communications encryption 

Governments focused their attention on more than privacy coins in 2020. They turned to encrypted communication as well, and saw a threat. The European Union emphasized this in early November. The EU Council of Ministers issued a proposal regarding a resolution forbidding end-to-end encryption of communications. This proposal affected What’s App and Signal in particular. 

While the proposal was non-binding, it shows where the EU is heading in terms of privacy. The rest of the world is following close behind.

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Cryptocurrency News Ethereum News

Japanese Tech Giant Gets U.S. Approval For JPY Stablecoin

GMO Internet Inc., the Tokyo-based Internet conglomerate, has won approval from the New York Department of Financial Services to establish a limited purpose trust company, GMO-Z.com Trust Company, Inc. (“GMO Trust”) and issue the world’s first regulated JPY-pegged stablecoin (Ticker: GYEN).

To win approval for the trust, the company had to meet stringent requirements for its cybersecurity programs, as well as meet federal standards for anti-money laundering and economic sanctions. The approval allows the company to launch both JPY-pegged stablecoin (Ticker: GYEN) and USD-pegged stablecoin (Ticker: ZUSD). Both GYEN and ZUSD can be purchased and redeemed directly from GMO Trust. In addition, GMO Trust has partnered strategically with digital asset exchanges that operate globally to enhance the accessibility and liquidity of the tokens.

There are currently other regulated stablecoins, but none are pegged to JPY. Therefore, GMO Trust will take the lead in launching the first regulated JPY-pegged stablecoin along with the US dollar-pegged stablecoin in the U.S., and to be available globally, in January, 2021. These digital assets can be leveraged by institutional firms and retail users for trading, institutional hedging, arbitrage, settlements, and payments. For more information on GMO Trust, please visit https://stablecoin.z.com/

The stablecoins will:

  • Be 100% fiat-backed and always redeemable 1:1.
  • Be available on exchanges globally among the most liquid digital assets.
  • Be powered by Ethereum‘s leading blockchain-based technology.

A monthly attestation report will be disclosed by certified public accountants to verify the availability of assets to support the value of the stablecoins. GMO Trust will issue and redeem GYEN and ZUSD directly to reduce fees while improving security and transparency.

GMO Internet Group has been a global market leader in the Internet infrastructure, Internet finance and digital asset space since its inception in 1991.

It operates the world’s largest online FX trading platform, claiming the top global spot in trading volume within the FX space for seven consecutive years. It also operates a Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA) regulated Internet bank. In 2017, it launched a digital currency exchange regulated by the FSA and a large Bitcoin mining operation. In 2018, it began research and development for the launch of GYEN.

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Cryptocurrency News

U.S. Treasury Releases Regulatory Statement On Stablecoins

The United States President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, operating as part of the U.S. Treasury Dept. issued a “Statement on Key Regulatory and Supervisory Issues Relevant to Certain Stablecoins.” The President’s Working Group on Financial Markets is responsible for enhancing the “integrity, efficiency, orderliness, and competitiveness” of US financial markets.

According to the working group, the new regulations specifically target stablecoins:

“These requirements address a range of policy objectives, including safety and soundness, countering illicit finance, end-user protection, and market integrity. In particular, stablecoin arrangements with greater potential scale, complexity, and interconnectedness should consider.”

Why is the Group Considering the Regulation?

The document states that the group views stablecoins as a potential regulatory risk. The document states:

“Depending on its design and other factors, a stablecoin may constitute a security, commodity, or derivative subject to the U.S. federal securities, commodity, and/or derivatives laws. If so, the federal securities laws,3 and/or the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”),4 would govern the stablecoin itself, transactions in, and/or participants involved in the stablecoin arrangement. Whether a stablecoin is a security, commodity, or derivative will depend on the relevant facts and circumstances.”

All stablecoins won’t be considered securities or derivatives, but they may be depending on their makeup.

This statement is significant given the members that make up the President’s Working Group of Financial Markets. They include the Secretary of the Treasury, the Chairperson of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, the Chairperson of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Chairperson of the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC).

One notable member is SEC Chairperson Jay Clayton, who, as head of the watchdog, was involved in the recent charges brought against Ripple. On Wednesday, the SEC filed a suit against Ripple and two of its top executives for conducting an unregistered sale of securities.

The SEC states that they perceive XRP, the native currency of the Ripple network, to be a security and not a currency like bitcoin or ethereum.

This classification means that Ripple, it’s co-founder, and current CEO are responsible for the sale of unregistered securities and will be held accountable.

As the cryptocurrency market continues to mature, regulatory bodies will likely scrutinize cryptocurrencies with additional oversight.

What is a Stablecoin?

Summary: Stablecoins are a new class of digital currency. Although the concept of stablecoins was considered years ago, only recently has it received widespread attention. Stablecoins refer to a collection of currencies that derive their value solely from an external reference point. Stablecoins can best be classified on the basis of their underlying working mechanisms, namely, Fiat-collateralised, algorithmic, and cryptohash-based stablecoins. The Fiat-Collateralised variety are the most widely recognised stablecoins as they trade against financial instruments like credit and deposit bills. The algorithmic variety of stablecoins, on the other hand, trade against a basket of global currencies (the basket of which they are traded) and are not linked to any particular financial instrument.

One of the advantages associated with stablecoins is their use as an asset. By understanding which option provides the best fit for your circumstances, you will be able to effectively hedge against any potential financial setbacks. When looking at buying, selling, or trading a stablecoin, it is important to consider the factors surrounding the particular coin. Another factor that is crucial is to determine whether one wants to purchase, sell, or trade non-collateralized stablecoins – these are coins that are not backed by any collateral such as certificates of deposit or bank notes. Finally, it is important to consider whether one wants to invest in algorithmically-derived stablecoins (which trade on algorithms instead of actual commodities) or non-algorithmic stablecoins (which trade based on supply and demand fundamentals).

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Cryptocurrency News Ripple News

SEC Lawsuit Filed Against The XRP Firm

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged Ripple — the company closely associated with XRP — along with its executives Brad Garlinghouse and Christian Larsen for selling as well as the ongoing sale of over $1.3 billion worth of XRP to the public.

In the filing, the SEC charged since 2013 up to the present time, the defendants have sold over 14.6 billion XRP in return for cash or other consideration to fund Ripple’s operations. 

The SEC said Ripple never filed a registration document, and, therefore, it never provided investors with information all companies that sought investment from the public regularly supplied.

The SEC lawsuit alleges that Ripple broke securities laws by selling XRP directly to consumers across exchanges. According to the complaint filed by The Alliance for Financial Innovation (AFI), Ripple acted in bad faith by not requiring users to sign a disclaimer when offering the discounted currency. Additionally, according to the complaint, Ripple instructed investors to disregard the “Ripple Statement” which is issued by the SEC when promoting the discounted currency. In addition, the complaint claims that Ripple promoted the statement on its website and in emails to customers without disclosing that the advertising was deceptive and in violation of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) guidelines. As a result, for lack of any express requirement that customers sign a disclaimer or other agreement, investors have reportedly been sending money to the XRP office for their own private investments. As a result, due to the lack of a disclaimer, the SEC found that Ripple broke securities laws by advertising the discounted currency and not requiring users to purchase a product as a security in advance of making a purchase.

The SEC on Wednesday formally sued Ripple, alleging that its co-founder Christian Larsen and CEO Bradley Garlinghouse “created an information vacuum” that allowed them to sell XRP into a market that only had information they chose to share.

According to the SEC’s lawsuit, the duo ignored legal advice that the cryptocurrency could be considered an investment contract and therefore was a security.

“From a financial perspective, the strategy worked,” raising at least $1.38 billion “over a years-long unregistered offering of securities,” the SEC said. “Ripple used this money to fund its operations without disclosing how it was doing so, or the full extent of its payments to others to assist in its efforts to develop a ‘use’ for XRP and maintain XRP secondary trading markets.”

Larsen and Garlinghouse both fervently have denied the SEC’s allegations, publicly arguing that XRP is a currency and should not have to be registered with the SEC as an investment contract. The company has also questioned the lawsuit’s timing – SEC Chairman Jay Clayton is soon to step down – and said the U.S. government and other regulators had previously given XRP currency status.

CEO of Ripple
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Bitcoin News Cryptocurrency News

Bitcoin Fund Update

One of the latest attempts to raise money for a start up venture in the digital currency space is the creation of the Bitcoin Fund, which will allow start up companies in the space to raise money without having to rely on venture capitalists. According to the documentation, the proposed fund would be classified as a private equity fund. However, Skybridge declined to reveal the total number of planned investments, but the required minimum from an individual investor would be $50,000. The offering would be under the SEC’s Reg D exclusion, which means that only those wishing to invest directly with the SEC can participate. Although participation in a venture capital fund has become increasingly difficult for new businesses, it is still possible to raise funds using the Reg D exception.

The proposal states that investors will receive the proceeds from the sale of a discounted percentage of the market price of one of many potential assets that are included in the proposed fund. While there is no guarantee that the selected sector will be a profitable one, it is expected that the management fee will be proportional to the profitability of the chosen investment. It is also not clear from the proposal how the investor would be compensated for the market to gain from the selling of the portion of the company’s stock included in the fund. This information should be clearly defined in the documentation accompanying the proposal, and if not, should be clarified in the shareholders’ agreement or operating agreement of the company.

The creation of the bitcoin fund is part of the wider effort by several large financial institutions to diversify their investment portfolio. In the past, hedge funds have generally focused on exchanging floating exchange rates between currencies, or on particular economic areas. The creation of the fund will allow more investors to participate in the exchange trading while maintaining their traditional hedge fund roles. This may open up new investment opportunities for investors in cryptocurrencies.