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First cryptocurrency cafè in Singapore assures digital money trading is safe

by UNTV   |   Posted on Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

Ronny Tome, the chief executive officer of the newly opened cryptocurrency café in Singapore, Ducatus Café,  said they are taking advantage of the of public’s acceptance of the cryptocurrency trading and with this, they seek to make them understand how the trading works in real life.

“They thought it’s very complicated. They think it’s difficult to use. It’s risk and you know, they didn’t see the usage in real life,” said Tome.

In Ducatus Café, customers can buy food, coffee, and even eco-friendly beauty products. However, the café is not accepting cash.

“This is Ducatus Cafè’s own bitcoin machine. To facilitate the use of bitcoins, customers can buy or top-up some cryptocurrency while waiting for their coffee,” he said.

For its operation, the cryptocurrency café created its own digital money for a faster transaction in their coffee shop.

“It’s more like a barter. I’m giving you my crypto, you’re giving me my product, whatever it is, my coffee, or my bread or anything. That’s where the value comes from. If people are going back to that original idea and I don’t see any downside,”
said the executive officer.

Ronny said the public does not have to worry about using digital money as it is used to directly pay for products and services the company is offering.

The problem, Ronny said, is that others view digital money differently.

He cited as an example the investment in the stock market.

“The downside at the moment is that a lot of people are looking at cryptocurrencies as speculation only. You know, they are all trying to buy cheap and sell high but that is not what the cryptocurrency is meant for,” said Tome.

The CEO also laments that governments act slowly in terms of creating public awareness on the benefits of the technology.

“Why not invest in bitcoin, right? It’s not scary since cryptocurrency is becoming popular now,” said Jay Llaguno, a bitcoin player.

The Ducatus Café, meanwhile, is confident that the virtual money industry would help the economy of countries grow faster.

For now, Tome noted that the public has to understand it and governments should give cryptocurrency the chance to further grow.

“Cryptocurrency and the underlying technology of blockchain will change the world. I’m one hundred percent sure of that. It’s here to stay,” he said.

“I only see upsides and it just requires all of us, all players, the government as well as the businesses, to play together and find the best way of making use of this new amazing technology,” added Tome. — Maila Guevarra | UNTV News and Rescue

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Gibraltar moves ahead with world’s first initial coin offering rules

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, February 12th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: Cryptocurrencies are seen on a website that tracks the value of initial coin offerings (ICO) in this illustration photo taken September 5, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) – Gibraltar will introduce the world’s first regulations for initial coin offerings with dedicated rules for the cryptocurrency sector whose fast growth has triggered concern among central bankers.

They are worried about financial stability and protecting consumers but regulators have so far adopted a patchwork approach to ICOs, ranging from bans in China to applying existing securities rules in the United States.

This has created legal uncertainty for transactions that sometimes straddle many countries.

An ICO involves a company raising funds by offering investors tokens in return for their cash or cryptocurrency such as bitcoin, as opposed to obtaining shares in the company from a traditional offering.

Over $3.7 billion was raised through ICOs last year, up from less than 82 million euros in 2016, a leap that has rung alarm bells among central bankers as some firms rush to issue tokens before new rules are introduced.

Gibraltar’s government and Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (GFSC) said lawmakers will discuss a draft law in coming weeks to regulate the promotion, sale and distribution of tokens connected with the British overseas territory.

The GFSC said it would represent the first set of bespoke rules for tokens in the world.

“One of the key aspects of the token regulations is that we will be introducing the concept of regulating authorized sponsors who will be responsible for assuring compliance with disclosure and financial crime rules,” said Sian Jones, a senior adviser to the GFSC.

The regulation will establish disclosure rules that require adequate, accurate and balanced information to anyone buying tokens, the government and Financial Services Commission said in a joint statement.

Central bankers have lined up in recent weeks to call for cryptocurrencies and ICOs to be regulated, saying that while innovation in finance can bring benefits, consumers must be protected.

“Tokens could post substantial risks for investors and can be vulnerable to financial crime without appropriate measures,” the finance ministers and central bank governors of France and Germany said in a letter on Friday.

“In the longer run, potential risks in the field of financial stability may emerge as well,” said the letter calling on the Group of 20 economies (G20) to discuss cryptocurrencies at their next meeting.

Gibraltar’s move is being closely watched by regulators from across the world, including Britain and Singapore, who may come forward with their own rules.

Jay Clayton, head of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, said on Tuesday that tokens are securities and subject to the same investor protection rules as share offerings.

French markets watchdog AMF published a discussion paper last October on ICOs, but it has not yet said if it will push ahead with rules.

Gibraltar is looking to boost its thriving financial services industry beyond gaming after Britain, along with Gibraltar, leave the European Union in 2019.

It blazed a trail in January by introducing the world’s first bespoke license for “fintech” firms using the blockchain distributed ledger technology that underpins ICOs.

“We remain fully committed to ensuring that we protect consumers and the reputation of our jurisdiction,” said Albert Isola, Gibraltar’s commerce minister.

Gibraltar is also reviewing its rules for investment funds that involve cryptocurrencies and tokens.

($1 = 0.8159 euros)

Editing by Anna Willard

 

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Virtual currencies need firm global regulation: ECB’s Mersch

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, February 9th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past an electric board showing exchange rates of various cryptocurrencies at Bithumb cryptocurrencies exchange in Seoul, South Korea, January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) – Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and the banks and financial firms that trade them need to be more closely regulated, one of the ECB’s top policymakers said on Thursday.

Officials from the world’s top economies are set to discuss the impact of digital currencies at next month’s G20 meeting in Argentina and are expected to signal a more coordinated approach to their regulation.

“Any virtual currency business of credit institutions needs to be rigorously supervised to ensure that risks emerging from such activities are contained,” ECB Executive Board member Yves Mersch said at an event in London.

Mersch said that proper protocols were needed to meet anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing regulations.

“Furthermore, given the risks posed by leverage, credit institutions should not accept virtual currencies as collateral (by banks),” he added.

Mersch is the latest of a slew of global policymakers to speak out against digital currencies after their meteoric rise last year. Bitcoin, the best-known crypto asset, rose more than 1,000 percent in 2017 BTC=BTSP.

This year, however, the threat of regulatory clampdowns and bans from credit card firms to social media sites, has already caused it to tumble about 50 percent.

In the same vein, relevant market authorities should also monitor, analyse and regulate Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) – where companies or projects issue their own digital coins or ‘tokens’ as a way of raising real world money from the public.

In 2016, the total amount of funds raised through ICOs was less than 82 million euros. This number dramatically increased to over three billion euros in 2017.

Mersch added somewhat reticently that he had had “heated” discussions with his own son who was “seriously considering” an ICO for a new firm he was looking to start up.

Despite the concerns he raised, Mersch said that the ECB was looking at its own virtual currency, although he stressed it would be more of a digital version of cash rather than a bitcoin-styled revolution.

Central banks already create money digitally via the reserves that banks either park or borrow, but that is not technically the same as the money that comes out of cash machines and used for everyday payments.

Any new digital currency would be like that though. At the same time however its use would depend on its popularity.

“One could imagine a digital representation of cash that replicates the features of cash in the reasonably distant future, if citizens demanded it.”

Mersch acknowledged that negative interest rates, like those currently at the ECB, were part of the virtual currency debate.

Economists argue having these currencies would allow central banks to slash rates even further as people and firms would then not be able to withdraw and stash away physical cash to avoid the hit of sub-zero rates to their savings.

However “deeply negative” rates would not become a standard instrument in the central bank’s toolbox, Mersch said.

Reporting by Marc Jones, Editing by William Maclean

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U.S. states join forces on fintech licenses

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

Representation of the Bitcoin virtual currency standing on the PC motherboard is seen in this illustration picture, February 3, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Banking regulators of seven U.S. states have agreed to simplify the way financial technology companies can apply for licenses, in a bid to make it easier for businesses to offer their services nationwide.

The states of Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas and Washington, will recognize each other’s findings when assessing the suitability of companies applying for money service business licenses, the national organization of state bank regulators said on Tuesday.

Money business licenses are used by a wide range of young digital companies that provide financial services, from money transfer startups to bitcoin exchanges.

The initiative responds to longstanding complaints by fintech startups about the costly and time consuming process of having to secure licenses separately in each state in order to operate in the United States.

“This MSB licensing agreement will minimize the burden of regulatory licensing, use state resources more efficiently, and allow for broad participation by other states across the country,” John Ryan, president and chief executive of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, said in a statement.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the main regulator for federal banks, has also tried to streamline the way fintech companies secure licenses.

In 2016, it proposed offering a special purpose charter that would let fintech companies such as online lenders operate nationwide.

State regulators have opposed the federal charter arguing that it could lead to weaker consumer protection.

The initiatives underscore the challenges faced by regulators worldwide as they try to keep up with dramatic changes in the banking industry amid the increasing use of digital technology that is reshaping the way financial services are delivered and consumed.

Reporting by Anna Irrera

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