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Singapore explores rules to protect investors in cryptocurrencies

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, March 2nd, 2018

Representations of the Ripple, Bitcoin, Etherum and Litecoin virtual currencies are seen on a PC motherboard in this illustration picture, February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore’s central bank is assessing whether additional regulations are required to protect investors in cryptocurrencies, an official said in a speech released on Thursday.

The city-state – which is aiming to be a hub for financial technology and so-called initial coin offerings in Asia – does not regulate virtual currencies and last year called for the public to exercise“extreme caution” over investment in cryptocurrencies.

Its central bank does regulate activities involving virtual currencies if they pose specific risks. For example, it imposes anti-money laundering requirements on intermediaries providing virtual currency services.

“We are assessing if additional regulations are required for investor protection,” Ong Chong Tee, deputy managing director (Financial Supervision), Monetary Authority of Singapore said.

Other countries such as South Korea, where trading in cryptocurrencies is more popular, are looking at ways to regulate that activity.

Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan and John Geddie; Editing by Kim Coghill

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EXCLUSIVE: G20 financial heads to urge crypto-asset monitoring to safeguard financial stability

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, March 15th, 2018

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

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The world’s financial leaders will call on international standard-setting bodies on March 20 for stronger monitoring of crypto-assets and to assess the need for a multilateral response as such assets could at some point threaten financial stability.

The call appears in a draft communique prepared for the meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors of the world’s 20 biggest economies in Buenos Aires on March 19-20, seen by Reuters.

The financial leaders will say the technological innovation behind crypto-currencies has the potential to improve the efficiency and inclusiveness of the financial system.

“Crypto currencies, however, raise issues with respect to consumer and investor protection, tax evasion, money laundering and terrorist financing. At some point they could have financial stability implications,” the draft communique adds.

“We agree that international standard setting bodies strengthen their monitoring of crypto-assets and their risks… and assess whether multilateral responses may be needed.”

Regulators globally have raised the alarm over cryptocurrencies, saying they may aid money laundering and terrorist financing, hurt consumers and undermine trust in the global financial system.

Japan was the first country to adopt a national system to oversee cryptocurrency trading. It carried out checks on several exchanges this year after the theft of $530 million from one exchange, Coincheck Inc, in January.

France and Germany have said they will make joint proposals to regulate the bitcoin cryptocurrency market.

The head of the European Union’s watchdog said a short-term strategy could be to focus on applying anti-money laundering and terrorist financing rules, warning consumers of the risk of trading in cryptocurrencies and preventing banks from holding them.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said last week that many online trading platforms for cryptocurrencies should be registered with the regulator and subject to additional rules, in a further sign regulators are cracking down on the digital currency sector.

In a statement, the SEC said these “potentially unlawful” platforms may be giving investors an unearned sense of safety by labeling themselves as “exchanges.” The regulator said these platforms need to register with the SEC as a regulated national securities exchange or as an alternate trading system, or ATS.

Virtual currencies have existed for years but speculation in them has recently ballooned – along with scams promising investors returns of over 1,000 percent in weeks.

In a time of volatile markets, hackers are also active in the sector.

Bitcoin, the best known virtual currency, lost over half its value earlier this year after surging more than 1,300 percent last year.

Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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Cryptocurrency traders to launch lawsuit against Coincheck on Thursday – lawyer

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

Cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck’s signboard is pictured in front of a building where their office is located in Tokyo, Japan February 2, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

TOKYO (Reuters) – A group of cryptocurrency traders will file a lawsuit against Coincheck Inc on Thursday over last month’s theft of $530 million (£382 million) in digital money from the Tokyo-based exchange, a lawyer representing the claimants said.

The ten traders will file the claim at the Tokyo District Court over Coincheck’s freezing of cryptocurrency withdrawals, Hiromu Mochizuki, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, told Reuters.

The traders will request that Coincheck allows them to withdraw cryptocurrencies to “wallets” – folders used for storing digital money – outside the exchange, Mochizuki said. The group may launch a second lawsuit at the end of the month to claim for damages over the heist, he added.

Coincheck representatives did not immediately respond to phone and emailed requests for comment.

The Coincheck incident highlighted the risks in trading an asset that policymakers are struggling to regulate, and has renewed the focus on Japan’s framework for overseeing these exchanges.

The Tokyo-based exchange, which froze all withdrawals of yen and digital currencies following the theft, resumed yen-withdrawals from Tuesday, according to posts on Twitter.

Coincheck said on Friday it would allow customers to withdraw yen after confirming the integrity of its system security. It added it would keep restrictions on cryptocurrency withdrawals until it could guarantee the secure resumption of its operations.

Coincheck is set to file on Tuesday a report with regulators on the heist, the safety of its systems, and measures it will take to prevent a repeat.

Reporting by Thomas WilsonEditing by Shri Navaratnam

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Japan’s Coincheck reports to regulators over $530 million cryptocurrency heist

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: Journalists are seen next to Cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck’s signboard while Japan’s financial regulator conducts a spot inspection on Coincheck, in Tokyo, Japan February 2, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck Inc, under pressure to better safeguard investors after the daring theft of $530 million (£382 million) of digital money last month, said it had on Tuesday filed a report with regulators on the hacking.

The Financial Services Agency ordered Coincheck to raise its standards after the late-January hack, directing it to submit a report on the security of its systems and measures it would take to prevent a repeat.

The report included Coincheck’s investigation into the heist and details of steps to bolster its risk management system, the exchange said in a statement.

The submission of the report came as Coincheck lifted curbs on yen withdrawals.

The exchange, which froze all withdrawals of yen and cryptocurrencies following the heist, said last week it had confirmed the integrity of its system security and would from Tuesday allow customers to withdraw yen. A source told Reuters on Friday that Coincheck had received withdrawal requests from customers totalling about 30 billion yen (£202 million).

The exchange will hold a press conference at 8 p.m. local time (1100 GMT), the person familiar with the matter said. Coincheck did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

The heist has exposed flaws in Japan’s system of regulating cryptocurrency trading, and raised questions over the country’s dash to oversee the industry – a move that was in sharp contrast to clampdowns by policymakers in countries such as South Korea, China and India.

LAWSUIT

Despite allowing customers to resume withdrawing yen from its systems, Coincheck said last week it would keep in place curbs on cryptocurrency withdrawals until it could guarantee the secure resumption of its operations.

“We are continuing to confirm and improve the security of our systems in order to resume transfers of other cryptocurrencies,” Coincheck said.

A lawyer representing a group of ten cryptocurrency traders told Reuters that they will launch a lawsuit against Coincheck on Thursday over the curbs on taking out cryptocurrencies.

The group will file a claim at the Tokyo District Court for Coincheck to allow withdrawals to private “wallets” – digital folders for storing money – outside the hacked exchange, the lawyer, Hiromu Mochizuki, said.

Separately, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said on Tuesday cryptocurrencies likely won’t threaten legal tenders like the yen any time soon as they are mostly used for speculative trading, rather than as payments and settlement means.

Kuroda also said the BOJ was closely watching developments in cryptocurrency trading to ensure they do not erode public trust over the safety of existing settlement systems overseen by the central bank.

“Cryptocurrencies aren’t legal tenders and don’t have assets to back up their value,” the BOJ chief said.

Reporting by Takahiko Wada and Thomas Wilson; Additional reporting by Leika Kihara Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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