An Indian official has redacted the government’s “official” blanket ban on cryptocurrencies, saying “I don’t think anyone is really thinking of banning it (cryptocurrencies) altogether”. Instead they could be classified as commodities, the official told Quartz.
In April, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued a mandate to banks to cease facilitating services to customers involved in any crypto-related activity.
Wealthy Indian crypto investors determined to trade despite the measures moved their activity to the US where a new crypto fund B1T Capital was established by Indian investors. The fund focuses on investing in crypto startups and is one of the 500 crypto funds estimated to open in 2018.
Apparently the government panel on cryptocurrencies is more concerned with the paper trail of cryptocurrencies.
“Trade is not a criminal offence. Most of us trade in various asset classes in the stock market. So how is this [cryptocurrency trading] any different? What has to be in place is a mechanism to be sure that the money used is not illegal money, and to track its source is the most important thing,” the official said.
Ripple's ambitions in India
Meanwhile in India, Ripple’s vice president Asheesh Birla has said he wants the XRP currency to overtake bitcoin in the country and become the most dominant cryptocurrency by considering an airdrop of 2 billion XRP coins on the entire population of 1.3 billion to expedite the process.
Birla said: “We looked early on at India, and we looked at two billion people – a huge market. And we decided, how do you get two billion people onto Ripple? Do we give the currency away to every Indian, that’s like two billion – just give it away?”
Speaking at Scaling and Digital Disruption in Fintech conference in San Francisco, Birla said Ripple wants XRP to facilitate 50% of the Indian banks processing payments using its low fees and efficiency to take market share away from Swift, which it considers a direct competitor.
Task force to investigate crypto crime:
President Trump has appointed an Attorney General task force to establish financial market integrity and crack down on fraud, including crimes involving cryptocurrencies.
The Market Integrity and Consumer Fraud Task Force is comprised of a number of divisions of the Department of Justice (DOJ), including the FBI and various Attorney’s Offices to investigate and prosecute consumer and corporate fraud that targets the public and the government, with a particular emphasis on the elderly, service members and veterans.
At the announcement Chairman of the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) Jay Clayton highlighted the SEC’s actions involving allegedly fraudulent Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), noting that the SEC has frozen tens of millions of dollars in assets raised in certain ICOs, while working in parallel with federal criminal authorities.
Clayton also noted that the SEC is working with other regulators to “provide clarity on the application of our laws and regulations to new and emerging products” such as digital currency. “[C]yber-enabled crime is an area of focus that the SEC shares with many others” on the new Task Force, he said.
Today’s announcement by high-ranking government officials of a multi-agency Task Force with a broad mandate is significant as it demonstrates the administration’s commitment to initiating criminal and regulatory investigations against perceived bad actors in various marketplaces, including a focus on emerging digital products.
USD stable coin Tether:
Another crypto startup has captured a corporate financial executive. The controversial USD stablecoin Tether, based in the British Virgin Islands, announced it has appointed a former Bank of Montreal AML manager as its new chief compliance officer (CCO).
This continues the streak of weekly transfers from the legacy corporate world to the crypto world. Tether’s new man Leonardo Real certainly doesn’t have the most envious job in crypto as the company has been under months of scrutiny about its USD reserves and only recently completed an audit to try and dispel the allegations.
The credit card giant has filed a patent for a proof-of-payment blockchain technology that would allow customers access to the products they’ve purchased, potentially turning their credit card into a key to unlock a hotel door or a rental car.
The company has been bullish on blockchain for years and has explored the technology through projects with Hyperledger and Ripple but has been quietly forging its own blockchain-based payment system that will use smart devices and mobile digital wallets to send and verify transactions between customers.
Litecoin Foundation, the non-profit body behind the currency, has acquired an almost 10% stake in German bank WEG Bank from TokenPay, a blockchain company that has been working with WEG Bank on a crypto-to-fiat payment ecosystem. The price of LTC surged on the announcement.
TokenPay has bought an additional 9.9% stake in WEG Bank with the option to buy the remaining shares in the bank if approved by German regulators. TokenPay said the funds for the acquisition were raised through a token sale in 2017.
A similar blockchain project in Malta aims to become the world's first decentralized bank in collaboration between Malta-based Binance and blockchain-based equity fundraising platform Nefund, which is regulated in Germany. To be named Founders Bank, it will specialize in crypto and fintech projects which are still finding it difficult to get banking partners.
The move was lauded by the Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Ducat and Junior Minister for Digital Innovation and Financial Services Silvio Schembri who said it was a huge development for Malta.
Changpeng Zhao, founder and CEO of Binance said: “We are not only excited to be one of the first investors of this inclusive community for this pioneering initiative, but also look forward to exploring the full range of its banking services. We continue to be delighted by the vibrant blockchain opportunities in Malta and look forward to launching more partnerships in the region," he said.