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Bank of Spain issues registration guidelines for crypto services

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The central bank of Spain is introducing new registration guidelines for local virtual currency service providers, or VASPs, including banking institutions.

The Bank of Spain has issued instructions on VASP registration for Anti-Money Laundering, or AML, purposes, requiring institutions to submit their registration requests through an electronic registry, Cointelegraph en Español reported Oct. 25.

Issuing the guidelines on Oct. 19, the Spanish central bank noted that the obligation to sign up in the registry applies to “all individuals and institutions providing virtual currency exchange services” like cryptocurrency trading and custody services.

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The regulator stressed that VASPs will have to register “regardless of whether they are also registered in other administrative records in the Bank of Spain or other related authorities.”

According to the official statement, institutions are required to proceed with the registration even if their end customers are not located in Spain. Individuals are also recommended to use the electronic registry form but may also proceed via other channels like mail, the central bank said.

The instructions specifically require both legal entities and individuals to issue reports on their measures for preventing illicit activity like money laundering and terrorism financing, including certain information on their clients.

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According to the statement, the Bank of Spain will analyze data and evaluate potential risks while taking into account VASPs’ types of clients, operated countries, products, business relationship purposes, operated volumes and others.

According to the local news agency El País, the Bank of Spain initially announced plans to establish AML procedures for VASPs in June 2021. In August, Spanish lawmakers backed a legal initiative to legalize the usage of cryptocurrency for mortgage and insurance purposes.

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Visa debuts crypto consultancy for retailers and banks

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  • Visa is now advising companies and financial institutions on cryptocurrency offerings.
  • UMB Bank is reportedly the first client to use the company’s crypto consulting and advisory service.
  • The new service further cements Visa’s involvement in the crypto sector. 

Global payment network Visa announced Wednesday it’s launching a consulting and advisory service to help financial institutions and retailers navigate through cryptocurrency. The development today further strengthened the company’s move into the digital currency space and would drive more crypto services and mainstream adoption.

Crypto consultancy

At the moment, the payment company already works with over 60 crypto-related companies, according to the press statement. Through its expertise, Visa will assist financial institutions, retailers, and central banks to roll out cryptocurrency offerings, including non-fungible token (NFT) projects and central bank digital currency (CBDC).

The crypto consultancy was launched as an offering under “Visa Consulting & Analytics (VCA)” and already has American bank UMB as the first client, which is already exploring the roadmap of a strategy for a new digital currency-related offering. 

“We came to Visa to learn more about digital currency and the use cases that are most relevant for various business lines as we serve our customers in the years ahead,” says UMB Bank’s executive vice president, Uma Wilson.

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Visa is digging deeper into cryptocurrency

Since 2021, the payment company has been making strategic efforts to expand into cryptocurrency as the dominant on and off-ramp medium for crypto to fiat conversion. Besides partnering with major exchanges like Coinbase and FTX for card programs, the company has been increasing its team of cryptocurrency experts to further drive its digital currency business.

As recently as November 12, Cryptopolitan reported that the company was looking to hire a director for its “Crypto Ecosystem Readiness Lead,” who will focus on creating and growing new revenue streams and expanding strategies for accelerating the company’s crypto card acceptance.

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Bank of Thailand bans commercial banks from trading crypto

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  • Bank of Thailand bans commercial banks from crypto trading
  • An official of the bank cited price volatility
  • Thailand’s tourism industry encourages crypto holders to visit

Trading digital currency is very rewarding, and that is if a trader knows what he is doing in the market. Despite that, the market has been targeted by several evil users, pushing countries to regulate the sector or ban it outrightly. In the latest update, the Bank of Thailand has announced that it has barred all commercial banks in the country from providing crypto trading services.

Bank of Thailand official cited price volatility concerns

The statement was released yesterday through one of the top members of the Bank of Thailand, Chayawadee Chai-Anant. In his statement, the executives talked about a series of issues associated with trading crypto but rested majorly on price volatility. Since banks have a moral obligation to hold cash for clients, they should be nowhere near cryptocurrencies.

This latest statement is coming off the back of several key partnerships between commercial banks and crypto exchanges across the country. Last month, Bitkub announced that it had concluded details and has inked a partnership deal with Siam Commercial Bank. Another crypto exchange announced in August that it had completed a massive funding round.

The funding round was led by the Bank of Ayudhya and saw the exchange raise $1.3 billion. The Bank of Thailand has continued to be unmoved in its clamor against digital assets, although most people in the country are moving to it. Another senior member of the Bank of Thailand, Sakkapop Panyanukul, advised businesses about the risks of operating with digital assets.

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Thailand’s tourism industry continues to invite crypto holders

The Bank of Thailand has in previous times talked about some of the disadvantages of using digital assets as payments for goods and services bought. Chai-Anant believes that people need to abandon digital assets completely. He listed several risks associated with holding and using them, including theft, price spikes, money laundering, and theft of personal data.

He opined that the massive usage could eliminate stability in any system and risk consumer protection. This recent warning was released after Thailand announced that it had completed preparations to receive crypto-rich visitors into the country. Although the Tourism industry wants people to bring their crypto in, the Bank of Thailand wants them to be alert. Thailand holds its tourism sector in high regard as it is one of the most income-generating sectors.

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic have caused a stop in income generation from this sector for a while. Although crypto holders have been encouraged to visit, the country has continued to record a low turnout of visitors.

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Australia to Introduce New Regulatory Laws and Licensing Frameworks for Crypto Firms

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As some top economies across the world are working to bring clarity on crypto regulations, Australia joins the bandwagon. As per the latest report, Australian lawmakers will soon create a licensing framework for cryptocurrency exchanges.

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has recently welcomed this move saying that Bitcoin and other digital assets would emerge under a financial licensing scheme for crypto trading platforms. Speaking of this development, Mr. Frydenberg said:

“Australia has an opportunity to be among the leading countries in the world in leveraging this new technology. Recent surveys have found that up to 17 percent of Australians currently own cryptocurrency, with that figure likely even higher among young Australians.”

The Australian Treasurer said that he will begin talks on the licensing framework of crypto from early 2022. Besides, they will also be regulating crypto custodians i.e. businesses who hold digital assets on behalf of their consumers.

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Crypto businesses in Australia are also supporting this move. BTC Markets chief executive Caroline Bowler said: “It would be a crushing shame to not have our regulation keep pace with international peers such as Singapore, Canada and Britain”.

Australia’s Own Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC)

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg also spoke about the possibility of having a central bank digital currency (CBDC) and doing pilot testing before the end of 2022. However, he advocates for the cash industry saying that the Australian CBDC should be replacing physical banknotes.

Besides, the country is looking to broaden the scope of laws for online transactions providers. Tech giants like Google and Apple are making rapid penetration in the payments market. Furthermore, there’s a fast emergence of buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) providers ike Afterpay Ltd. operating without any direct supervision. Speaking of this, Treasurer Frydenberg said:

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“If we do not reform the current framework, it will be Silicon Valley that determines the future of our payment system. Australia must retain its sovereignty over our payment system.”

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