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Japan Reinforces Crypto Exchange Regulations To Avoid Another Coincheck



Japan regulators unveiled stricter rules and regulations regarding cryptocurrency exchanges. It was an effort to avoid another theft like the one that ensued Coincheck way back in January. It was based on the Nikkei Asian Review.

Japan’s Financial Services Agency hopes to start with the use of a latest and stricter framework designed for registered cryptocurrency exchanges this summer. The agency will also advise those who fail to come up with its new rules to discontinue operations. All of the new and current operators are highly required to meet the new standards.

New goal

The government has changed its goal to support consumer protection measures after primarily identifying virtual currencies as a legal form of payment having the interest of supporting the continuous innovation of technology.

The latter agency explained last April that the latest procedures are necessary for the registrations of the cryptocurrency exchange which extend beyond simple documentation to contain onside investigations on how the operations will be managed.

New requirements

New requirements are established for the cryptocurrency industry. As a result, the cryptocurrency exchanges will now face harsher standards when it comes to system management such as not storing currency in internet-connected computers and using several passwords for currency standards.

This time, exchanges will have a big part to avoid money laundering through verification of the identification of the customer for major transfers. Keeping customer assets separated from exchange assets, the exchanges will have to check the account balances of the customer several times per day for signs of diversions.

Furthermore, exchanges are also mandated to have rules in place to avoid their officers from using the funds of their clients. New rules are also implemented about the types of cryptocurrencies used to register exchanges. Stricter internal rules like measures on separating management from shareholders were also established.

The system development roles must also be separated from those of asset management. In return, the employees can never manipulate the system for their own sake.

Two-step procedure

The operators will pass documents for the registration of exchanges with the FSA. Aside from a review of these documents, the agency will also allow inspectors to visit exchanges which pass through the initial screening to monitor their operations and check the number of employees.

According to an unnamed source from the agency, “By not having a sufficient expertise with the exchanges, the agency has been feeling our way through the dim on how thoroughly we need to check these different aspects.


PayPal Joins $4.2M Round for Crypto Banking Compliance Startu



Financial institutions know how to calculate the risk of serving traditional businesses. But for firms touching cryptocurrency, the math is still fuzzy. The assumption of added regulatory hurdles and money-laundering fears have led to a widespread problem: Your average bank would rather just not deal with it.

Addressing those concerns with clear-eyed data is how compliance startup TRM Labs wants to accelerate the institutional embrace of crypto. And that’s why a group of investors are backing the blockchain analytics firm to the tune of $4.2 million in new funding.

“Many might consider this the unsexy plumbing of the financial system but it’s what allows [crypto adoption] to thrive,” TRM Labs co-founder and CEO Esteban Castaño said in an interview. “We’re helping financial institutions to think through crypto’s potential as well as to mitigate any of the associated risks.”

The slate of investors includes Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian’s Initialized Capital, SF stalwart Blockchain Capital and a new strategic partner, PayPal Ventures. The influx of capital brings TRM’s total funding to $5.9 million after the startup emerged out of Y Combinator earlier this year.

It’s only the second blockchain-related investment disclosed by PayPal Ventures (the first was in April 2019) and comes just a month after PayPal itself withdrew from the Facebook-led Libra Association.

Chainalysis, but for banks

While competing firms like Chainalysis and Elliptic are known for aiding law enforcement, TRM Labs is focused solely on finance.

“Financial institutions use TRM to risk-score their cryptocurrency-related transactions, customers, or partnerships, helping them to simplify customer due diligence and meet regulatory requirements,” the company said in a statement.

That means the startup scours over a dozen blockchains, analyzing billions of transactions for signs of fraud and money-laundering.

The heightened interest from major players in traditional finance comes from a dawning realization that exposure to crypto is now “inevitable,” Castaño said.

“This new world is coming,” he said. “We’re going to help the existing financial system adapt to this new world so they can effectively engage with it.”

That doesn’t mean TRM is alone. Chainalysis, for one, already serves the finance sector, apparently to mixed reviews.

“The existing providers are trying to tailor products to financial institutions, and we’re just finding they’re not doing a good job of that,” Blockchain Capital’s Spencer Bogart told CoinDesk.

Regardless, he said, getting those institutions comfortable with crypto requires conforming to existing rules and regulations around tracking the provenance of customer funds.

“Every time we’re talking to a financial institution, number one or two on their list of concerns is compliance and risk management,” Bogart said.

TRM Labs is a team of 20, according to Castaño. The San Francisco-based company says it will use the new funding for product development, hiring and expanding to new geographies.

Image: TRM Labs co-founders Esteban Castaño and Rahul Raina, courtesy of TRM Labs


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How Crypto and Blockchain Are Influencing Geopolitics



The world is a constantly changing place — and from an economic standpoint, things are dramatically shifting, too. Two major superpowers, the United States and China, are embroiled in a dramatic trade war where tit-for-tat tariffs have been placed on goods — breeding uncertainty for consumers and businesses alike and making everyday products more expensive. The United Kingdom is still embroiled in a messy divorce from the European Union, and Russia is ratcheting up tensions with its neighbors in the West.

All of this geopolitical drama has two effects. Firstly, it can wreak havoc on the markets, wiping billions of dollars off the value of major companies and affecting employment rates in the world’s economies. Secondly, it is prompting some enthusiasts to passionately advocate for crypto and blockchain taking a bigger role in the economy. They say it could help bring down borders, making international payments faster and less expensive, while encouraging trade between nations.

That said, crypto and blockchain are also creating new geopolitical challenges. North Korea has faced allegations that a sophisticated group of hackers are launching cyberattacks on major exchanges in neighboring South Korea and other parts of Asia. Millions of dollars have been lost, with each incident shaking consumer confidence to its core. India has also been resolute in its decision to push ahead with a crypto ban. This could have ramifications for the likes of Facebook, which is hoping to launch a stablecoin that would benefit the unbanked. The Libra project is also creating tensions around the world, with many countries — the U.S. and the EU among them — concerned that the cryptocurrency could undermine traditional payment infrastructure and overtake the dollar and the euro.

Regulating crypto

A major thing that’s holding cryptocurrency back is the disjointed, fragmented approach to regulation around the world. While some countries like India are taking a hardline approach by proposing jail terms for anyone found handling these coins and tokens, the likes of Japan and Canada have been far more laidback — encouraging innovation, enabling taxes to be paid using Bitcoin, and creating so-called “regulatory sandboxes” where new crypto products can be tested on a small portion of the population before being rolled out.

There is a real and pressing divide when it comes to the attitudes surrounding crypto and blockchain. In some countries, there is incredible caution surrounding this technology amid fears it could have a detrimental impact on vulnerable consumers. That said, there are politicians out there who are appalled by the negative attitude that’s being espoused towards the industry — people who believe in its potential and believe their country should be at the forefront of innovation.

In part, this desire for a pro-crypto stance lies in fears that certain countries may be getting a headstart on developing their own central bank digital currency, establishing early dominance. One such country is China — which is already set to embark on a rapid acceleration of blockchain usage at the behest of President Xi Jinping.

What of the future?

Reading the tea leaves to figure out what the future holds for crypto and blockchain is a challenge. Will China achieve dominance and launch a central bank digital currency? Will India be successful in its quest to ban cryptocurrency? Will Russia succeed in its quest to enable law enforcement to confiscate Bitcoin, and is this even possible?

With so many unknowns, conferences have gained popularity as a way of hearing valuable insights from some of the best-known practitioners in the crypto and blockchain industries. One of them is the Crypto Finance Conference, which is taking place from Jan. 15 to 17 in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

Organizers of the conference say that they are determined to cater each session to the individual needs of attendees. To that end, some of the event’s main speakers are going to be taking time to answer questions both onstage and offstage. Extensive networking opportunities are also on offer, giving delegates the chance to delve into areas of particular interest and establish meaningful contacts.

The program is still under development — but already, there are a series of sessions that will interest those who are keeping a close eye on geopolitical developments in the industry. The first day will explore the global impact of crypto and blockchain, and offer predictions for the future. There’s little doubt that the talk on the evolution of central banking will explore the attitudes that countries worldwide are adopting when it comes to everything from Bitcoin to Libra. Tales from the global regulatory frontline are also going to be shared.

With crypto and blockchain constantly hitting the headlines and battles being fought on many fronts, there’s going to be plenty to discuss as business visionaries descend on one of Switzerland’s finest resort towns.

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Presidential candidate Andrew Yang vows to promote crypto legislation



“In order to regulate technology effectively, our government needs to understand it. It’s embarrassing to see the ignorance some members of Congress display when talking about technology, and anyone who watched Congress question Mark Zuckerberg is well aware of this”, said the 2020 US Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang.

In his latest blog post titled, ‘Regulating Technology Firms in the 21st Century’, Yang wrote that the government needs to be forward-thinking and informed on the latest technological developments to keep pace with innovation. He added that without a base level of understanding, it’s unreasonable to expect proper regulation of major tech firms or the drafting of legislation that addresses the critical technical issues.

According to the Democratic Candidate, legislators are blind to, or completely unprepared to comprehend technical aspects of the cryptocurrency industry and due to the unregulated nature, the marketplace has seen levels of fraud. He further said,

” Other countries, which are ahead of us on regulation, are leading in this new marketplace and dictating the rules that we’ll need to follow once we catch up… Cryptocurrencies and digital assets have quickly grown to represent a large amount of value and economic activity, outstripping government’s response. A national framework for regulating these assets has failed to emerge, with several federal agencies claiming conflicting jurisdiction.”

Yang also emphasized that the market is being outpaced by innovation. If he wins the 2020 Presidential Election, Yang promised to promote legislation that provides clarity on cryptocurrency and digital asset market space by defining a ‘token’ and distinguishing ‘security’ from it. Yang affirmed that he will define which federal agencies have regulatory power over crypto/digital assets space and provide protection for the consumers. Additionally, tax implications of owning, selling, and trading digital assets will also be clarified.


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