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Facebook’s Libra Should Be Regulated Like a Security, Says Former CFTC Chair

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Libra is a security, says a former Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) chairman in prepared remarks to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Gary Gensler, who chaired the CFTC from 2009 to 2014 and previously held leadership roles at the U.S. Treasury Department, says in written testimony that Facebook’s new cryptocurrency project looks like an investment vehicle and that Libra may even resemble some banking structures.

Gensler will testify before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, as part of a panel of expert witnesses on the potential implications of Libra. He will join Public Citizen president Robert Weissman, Columbia University law professor Katharina Pistor and Georgetown University law professor Chris Brummer.

In Gensler’s remarks, obtained by CoinDesk, he describes how the Libra cryptocurrency might be classified as a security.

At the heart of his argument is Libra’s structure: Libra itself is intended to act as a kind of stablecoin, with its value pegged to a basket of sovereign currencies and government bonds. Members of the Libra Association, the governing council charged with overseeing the cryptocurrency’s ongoing development after it launches, will receive a Libra investment token – a security token, as Facebook has acknowledged.

Collateral earned on the basket of currencies backing Libra (referred to as the Libra Reserve) will go to holders of the investment token, according to documentation Facebook published about the project last month.

Gensler argues this means Libra itself looks like a security, saying:

“As currently proposed, the Libra Reserve, in essence, is a pooled investment vehicle that should at a minimum, be regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), with the Libra Association registering as an investment advisor.”

‘Pooled investment vehicle’

According to Gensler, Libra is a security for the same reasons that the Libra Investment Token is a security.

There may be debates on whether and how Libra qualifies as a security under the Investment Company Act of 1940,

the Howey Test, or the “Reves Family Resemblance Test,” but none of these are strictly important for this analysis, he argues, explaining:

“It’s unambiguous that [the Libra Investment Token] is a security as it will receive a net return based upon interest on the Libra Reserve.”

In Gensler’s view, the actual Libra token is “part of the same pooled investment vehicle,” and therefore faces the same market risks as the investment token.

The SEC is already considering whether Libra could be considered a security, and therefore falls under its purview, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

“Further, investor protection will be just as important for the proposed Libra token as it is for investors in international bond funds or in commodity ETFs such as gold, silver, or oil ETFs,” Gensler says. “I also believe that each Authorized Reseller of the Libra token would need to be a registered broker dealer.”

He describes holders of Libra as a “2nd class of investors” in the Libra Reserve.

Bank too?

Securities concerns aside, aspects of Libra’s setup also may fall under banking regulations, Gensler adds.

The Libra Reserve is effectively proposing “a private form of money” which can be used for payments, storing value and lending “the proceeds to banks (as deposits) and governments (as debt securities),” he says.

These applications are similar to services offered by banks.

“Thus, there is some basis to consider the Libra Reserve as a bank or to apply bank-like regulation to it,” Gensler proposes. “At a minimum there should be restrictions on Libra Reserve’s investments and prohibition on its ability to lend or operate as a fractional bank.”

(It’s worth noting there’s actually precedent for a stablecoin issuer operating as a fractional bank: Tether.)

source:coindesk.

Cryptocurrency

PRESIDENT MADURO FORCES AIRLINES TO BUY FUEL USING PETRO CRYPTOCURRENCY

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The Rundown

  • Venezuela’s Petro: National cryptocurrency that failed
  • Maduro’s plan to revive Petro
  • Maduro is Determined to Make Petro a Success

Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro, recently announced that he plans to revive the country’s oil-backed cryptocurrency Petro, which failed to attract users.


VENEZUELA’S PETRO: NATIONAL CRYPTOCURRENCY THAT FAILED

The last several years have brought great economic difficulties for the country of Venezuela, whose native currency, bolivar, suffered a great loss of value due to extreme inflation. At the same time, cryptocurrencies were finally leaving the shadows and becoming a big trend around the world. This is why the country decided to create its own, national cryptocurrency backed by its oil supplies — Petro.

The coin was supposed to represent a safe haven from the nearly-worthless bolivar, but also to help circumvent US sanctions. However, Petro, which was launched in 2018, failed to attract users as Venezuelans were more interested in Bitcoin and altcoins. Now, Maduro has announced that he plans to bring the Petro back.

MADURO’S PLAN TO REVIVE PETRO

This Tuesday, President Maduro published a decree, stating that airlines flying from Caracas are now obligated to pay for Venezuela’s fuel via Petro. He said,

I decree the sale of all fuel sold by the PDVSA for planes operating international routes be made in petros from now on.

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Further, he ordered that the coin must be more widely used throughout the country.

The fact that the US banned the use of Petro and marked it a scam also did not help the coin’s popularity.

Another one of Maduro’s decrees states that the coin must also be used for paying for state document services,

such as passports. So far, even Venezuelans avoided Petro as much as possible as many do not even know how to use it. As for foreigners, the coin is not only banned by the US, but it was also labeled as a scam by numerous risk rating websites.

Still, Venezuelans have shown that they are open to the idea of cryptocurrency by using trusted, decentralized coins to battle hyperinflation.

MADURO IS DETERMINED TO MAKE PETRO A SUCCESS

In mid-May 2019, Bitcoinist reported that Venezuela attempted to discuss mutual trades in Petro with Russia. With both countries having issues with the US, they were discussing methods of eliminating the use of the USD in their trade deals.

Then, last December, Maduro also approved bonuses for public employees and pensioners, but he insisted that they will be paid in Petros. According to experts, it was not long before the coins were exchanged for bolivars, which were then used to purchase other currencies. This is why the country’s government recently blocked the possibility of exchanging Petros for bolivars.

So far, Maduro’s decree regarding fuel payment lacks details, and it remains unknown whether the measures he introduced only concern Venezuelan firms, or international carriers, as well. It is worth mentioning that international links to the country have been weak due to restrictions ever since the country’s economic crisis began seven years earlier.

With that said, the country capital’s Maiquetia Airport is still serviced by multiple companies, including Iberia, Panama’s Copa Airlines, Portugal’s TAP, Air France, and Air Europa. Even so, Venezuela does not offer direct flights to the US as a consequence of sanctions.

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Akon Finalizes Agreement For His Cryptocurrency-Powered “Akon City”

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When news first broke out about Akon’s plans to build a “real-life Wakanda city” powered by cryptocurrency and renewable energy, many thought it was just a ruse for the African-American singer and entrepreneur to stay relevant.

However, recent events have shown that the iconic rapper is indeed serious with his plans to build his own smart city named after himself “Akon City” in Senegal, and it is now official.

Akon Announces “Akon City”

Akon said on Monday via a tweet that he has finalized the agreement for the new city, a development which means there’s no going back.

The Senegalese artist first announced his intentions to build a smart city in June 2018 after launching a cryptocurrency called Akoin, which he believes will help “cryptonize daily human and business exchanges” in Senegal, his home country.

The city, which is estimated to cost about $2 billion,

will be built on the 2000 acres of land that was given to Akon by the President of Senegal. Akon city will be the first city to run 100% on renewable energy and cryptocurrency with Akoin digital currency being the primary medium of exchange, Akon revealed.

The rapper’s plans for his city to run on renewable energy aligns with his “Akon Lighting Africa,” charity project, which according to him, has provided “scaled solar power solutions” across 18 African countries.

According to the singer, the project is expected to take ten years to complete, and construction, which is the first stage, started in March 2019. “Stage two is going to be 2025,” he said.

Crypto Could Change Africa

The Grammy-nominated rapper said during a Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity panel that crypto and blockchain have the potential to change Africa in many ways.

“I think that blockchain and crypto could be the savior for Africa in many ways because it brings the power back to the people and brings the security back into the currency system,” he said.

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CFTC Chairman Encourages Further Cryptocurrency Derivatives Regulations

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In a recent interview with Cheddar, Heath Tarbert, Chairman of the CFTC, sat down to talk about Phase 1 of the upcoming U.S.-China trade deal, slated to be signed on Wednesday of this week.

According to Tarbert, the trade deal will “be an immense success,” and that once the agreement is signed, we’ll start to see U.S. markets, such as energy and agriculture, coming back to where they were initially before the trade war with China began a few years ago.

Tarbert also talks about his primary concern as the Chair of the CFTC: making sure that commodities, such as Bitcoin and Ether, are safe and accessible for everyone in all areas of industry.
Could this be the much-needed push to help bring legitimacy and widespread adoption to cryptocurrency derivatives?

While the future is still uncertain for many crypto derivatives, Tarbert believes that yes, regulation is the solution that we’ve all been waiting for.

Heath Tarbert
Heath Tarbert, Chairman of the US CFTC

On Cryptocurrency and Digital Assets

Today, there is an ever-expanding market for cryptocurrency derivatives.

But the issue is that these marketplaces are more-or-less unregulated exchanges. This, combined with the competition from their regulated counterparts, makes investors rather leery about investing in digital products.
According to Tarbert, one of the biggest complaints from market participants is that they need more clarity when it comes to cryptocurrencies. As it stands, Bitcoin and Ether are the only two cryptocurrencies currently sanctioned by the CFTC as commodities. All others are presently unregulated digital assets, which raises a major red flag for most investors.

On the other hand, Tarbert states that by regulating

these (Bitcoin and Ether), and other cryptocurrency derivatives, the futures markets will be allowed to develop according to these digital products, making them safer and more accessible than ever before.

In other words, in the future, market participants would be able to rely on the futures markets when purchasing cryptocurrencies and other digital assets.

The futures markets have been around for a long time. Therefore, investors would be able to rely on them for reassurance, as well as “price discovery, hedging, and risk management.”
Altogether, Tarbert’s opinion is that the CFTC is currently working to “legitimize and add liquidity to these (cryptocurrency) markets.”

A Brighter Future For Crypto?

Although many observers believe that regulation goes against the very principles of cryptocurrency itself, Tarbert thinks that the regulation of cryptocurrency derivatives will, “create a market for digital assets.”
Regulations might irk some market participants. But, regulation could also represent a golden opportunity for cryptocurrency derivatives to take the world by storm.

For example, when the U.S.- China trade war first started a few years ago, the U.S. government provided massive bailouts to the agriculture sector, which was heavily affected by the tensions between the two countries.
But at the time, if there had been more regulated cryptocurrencies available, farmers and ranchers might have had other options, rather than accepting the government bailout.

In the end, the regulation of cryptocurrency derivatives isn’t going to close doors, it’s going to open them. And make digital assets safer and more accessible for anyone who could benefit from investing.

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