The chief of the European Central Bank (ECB) said Friday that the institution sees no “concrete need” to issue a digital version of the euro, Reuters reports.
In a letter to a member of the European Parliament, ECB President Mario Draghi said a lack of robustness in the technology that would underlie such an endeavor, as well as the high levels of physical cash use cross the EU, meant the option is not on the table at present.
“The ECB and the Eurosystem currently have no plans to issue a central bank digital currency,” he said.
Draghi went on to say that distributed ledger technology (DLT), a likely prime candidate for the basis of a central bank digital currency (CBDC), would “require substantial further development.”
The ECB’s own research indicates that, in 2017, cash still made up 78.8 percent of all payments at points of sale across the EU. Payments by credit and debit cards, meanwhile, made up 19.1 percent and the remainder (2.1 percent) were made using other instruments.
The 2017 report stated that, “This seems to challenge the perception that cash is rapidly being replaced by cashless means of payment.”
While the ECB may not consider DLT yet mature enough to warrant a real world application as the rails of a national digital currency, other centrals banks are increasingly moving to investigate the possibility.
In late August, the Bank of Thailand said it plans to complete the first phase of a proof-of-concept trial for a CBDC by next March. For the effort, the central bank has partnered with eight domestic financial institutionsand will build the product on Corda, a DLT platform developed by consortium startup R3.
China too, is making rapid strides towards the launch of its CBDC.
CoinDesk reported in June that the Digital Currency Research Lab at the People’s Bank of China has filed more than 40 patent applications so far pertaining to its planned digital currency – one that would combine the core features of cryptocurrency and the existing monetary system.
Others such as Norway, are investigating their own national cryptos in the face of falling cash use in the country.
That said, like the ECB, other central banks have suggested that now is not the time for launching a CBDC. Hong Kong ruled out the option in May, as did Australia and New Zealand in June.
Brazilian Authorities Arrest Suspect Of Running Potential Crypto Money Laundering Scheme
Brazilian police arrested a man that was apparently running a crypto money laundering scheme in Brazil.
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Suspect Arrested of Running Crypto Money Laundering Scheme
According to the report, police found mining equipment valued at R$ 250,000, close to $63,000. These devices were switched on and running 24 hours a day mining Bitcoin. The room in which the equipment was found had little ventilation and no other security objects to run the operations.
The man claims that he owns the equipment to mine virtual currencies and that he entered the market in order to mine digital assets. At the same time, he said that he is not involved in illicit organizations dealing with drugs. The individual was also accused of stealing electricity to mine virtual currencies. Bitcoin mining requires large amounts of electricityand, depending on its price, it could be profitable or not to perform mining activities.
Adriano Nonnemacher, a police officer, commented:
“The flat is well-hidden. We are going to investigate further. Everything points to a Bitcoin mining operation. They could be exchanging the money and use it to fuel drug trafficking. Here is also a possibility that they are using the funds derived from drug trafficking to buy Bitcoin.”
At the same time, police officers decided to seize the mining equipment that could have entered the country in an illegal way from China.
Bitcoin has been several times linked to illegal activities around the world and in many different situations. However, there are some reports that show that most Bitcoin transactions are not related to illicit and criminal activities.
New York State Sees First Conviction for Crypto Money Laundering
A case involving millions of dollars in bitcoin and Western Union payments has resulted in New York State’s first conviction for cryptocurrency money laundering.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday that defendants Callaway Crain and Mark Sanchez, both 35, laundered $2.8 million earned through sales of controlled substances carried out over the internet.
Between 2013 and 2018, the two men sold steroids and other drugs including Viagra across the U.S. via their website “NextDayGear” and on the dark web. They sold over 10,000 packages and accepted payments in cryptocurrency and fiat currency via Western Union, which they then laundered.
Customers usually paid in bitcoin, the Attorney’s Office said, with the defendants laundering the proceeds via one or more “intermediary” cryptocurrency wallets to obfuscate the source of the funds. The bitcoin was then converted to U.S. dollars using a cryptocurrency exchange platform before the cash was deposited into their bank accounts.
Western Union payments, on the other hand, were laundered through the use of false identities or international wire transfers from receivers outside of the U.S..
The duo has now pleaded guilty and faces a jail term of 2.5–7.5 years, with sentencing expected to take place on July 12.
Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., said:
“These defendants raked in crypto and cash worth millions on their full-service website that sold prescription-free counterfeit steroids and other controlled substances to customers in all 50 states.”
“Online drug sellers who do business in New York should take note: whether you’re operating in plain sight or in hidden corners of the dark web, my Office has the skills and resources to follow the money, shut down your business, and hold you accountable,” Vance warned.
Just last week, the same DA’s office also indicted three individuals for dealing in drugs and laundering $2.3 million in cryptocurrency by using preloaded debit cards and withdrawing cash at ATMs in Manhattan and New Jersey.
Galaxy Digital CTO Out at Novogratz-Led Crypto Fund
Mike McMahon, chief technology officer at crypto merchant bank Galaxy Digital, has left the firm, CoinDesk has learned.
“I have already left Galaxy Digital and looking for my next opportunity,” he told CoinDesk Wednesday, declining to provide further details.
Galaxy didn’t respond to CoinDesk’s request for comment by press time, but it’s actively looking for McMahon’s replacement, according to a new job posting on LinkedIn.
The CTO should, among other things, “build, coach and provide hands-on leadership to the technology team” an “build a strong partnership with the business to ensure technology is supporting revenue-generating, client-facing business initiatives.”
McMahon joined Galaxy a year ago following a career at traditional financial institutions and mainstream companies, including Bank of New York-Mellon, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, according to his LinkedIn profile.
He also spent more than two years at ENSO Financial Analytics, a fintech company owned by Chicago futures exchange operator CME Group.
Galaxy Digital, founded by former hedge fund manager Michael Novogratz, is one of the most active investors in crypto startups. In recent months, it backed staking startup Bison Trails and crypto analytics firm CipherTrace.
In January, Galaxy announced it had raised $250 million to “offer loans in U.S. dollars to struggling crypto firms.” Before that, Novogratz signaled his own confidence in the enterprise despite the bear market when he bought 2.7 percent of Galaxy’s shares, increasing his total stake to about 79.3 percent.
Although based in New York, Galaxy Digital is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange’s TSX Venture Exchange, where it went public via a reverse merger with a pharmaceutical company.