Kvě 24

From Russia with Love: How Cryptocurrency and Blockchain are Finding Their Feet

· May 23, 2018 · 9:00 pm

In the West, crypto markets continue to battle with the regulatory uncertainty as the SEC and other regulatory bodies take their time to decide which camp they sit on. At the same time, things are not much rosier in the East either where China is yet to warm up to cryptocurrencies.


Blockchain has been around “long” enough to show the proof of concept in that by utilizing blockchain it is possible to streamline a number of processes, both on the governmental and also corporate levels. This then has prompted an exponential rise in fintech start-ups looking to challenge the status quo and disrupt the standard ways of storing, organizing, and extracting data sets. However, the actual implementation of blockchain technologies across much of Western Europe and even the US has been constrained by the regulatory uncertainty.

On the one hand, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) are yet to put a fundamental framework forward to appease concerns surrounding utility vs security token model. While in Europe, an introduction of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is perfectly suitable for blockchain applications, is being rushed through by compliance and HR departments with such haste that blockchain is far away on their radar.

In Blockchain We Trust

In Blockchain We Trust

Russia is an interesting case when it comes to the world of ICOs. On the one hand, it is a great place to source technical experts for your blockchain related ventures. The price tag might be astronomical but at least you know what you are getting for the labor and that is quality, reliability and of course security. So, with one piece of the puzzle sorted comes the tricky bit, finding a suitable business partner and this is where things go wrong… really wrong.

One of the most depressing and worrying statistics that has come out of the Russian Association of Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain (RACIB) is that around half of the ICO funds in the country that were raised in the past year – amounting to $300 million – have gone to pyramid schemes.

Economic and political uncertainty, together with numerous corruption scandals has really dented investor appetite for projects in the country. It is very much high-risk, high-reward based game when it comes to investing in Russia and when combined with the volatile nature of the currency, this perception is unlikely to change anytime soon. The regulation and oversight by the government can help alleviate some of the concerns relating to fraudulent activities but at least for now, the crypto community is yet to “sanction” Russian projects altogether.

In the meantime, the likes of Blackmoon (BMC) will remind budding entrepreneurs and investors of the success stories and there is, of course, hope that the government, which is actively looking at ways to promote and integrate digital economy, will not be overly involved in regulation aspect.

On the subject of regulation, it was reported that the Russian State Duma’s Committee for Legislative Work will support the first reading of an initiative that will add the basic norms of digital economy to the Russian Federation Civil Code. The initiative itself does not mean that digital currencies will now become a legitimate means of payment and instead, a separate law developed by other regulatory bodies, will outline conditions for using digital currencies as a payment method. The initiative will also look to treat a digital confirmation by a user in a smart contract is equal to his written consent.

What Does Russia’s Future Hold?

Over the course of 19-20 May 2018, Moscow hosted one of the largest cryptocurrency summits of 2018, with over 200 speakers and over 3000 participants taking part in the event. While the event may not carry the same weight as Consensus, which took place earlier this month, or d10e, it was an important event for the country that stands at a crossroads with the technology. The decisions that will be made by the government need to be made in the spirit of blockchain and with the aim to further technological, as well as economical, advancement as opposed to being the means to destabilize the Dollar.

The commissioning of the crypto-rouble is not far-reaching enough. Anyone looking for inspiration should turn to Dubai and their smart-city plans. According to Smart Dubai, which is conducting government and private organization workshops to identify areas that will benefit from the overhaul, the strategy could save 25.1million man hours, equivalent to $1.5 billion in savings per year for the emirate. It has been noted that the fast majority of improved efficiency will come from moving to paperless government.

What do you think of the latest developments in Russia and can it reform and lead the way in providing a sound base for crypto projects? 


Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Shutterstock

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Úno 24

Coinbase Gives IRS More Than 10K Users’ Information

· February 24, 2018 · 9:30 am

After fighting the IRS in court, popular digital currency marketplace Coinbase has been ordered by the Northern District of California to turn over more than 10,000 users’ personal information and trade history — but it could have been much worse.


The Taxman

The Beatles once sang:

If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.

Now, you can add “If you sell on Coinbase, I’ll tax your trades.”

Coinbase

According to Coinbase support, the popular cryptocurrency marketplace notified roughly 13,000 users concerning a summons from the Internal Revenue Service — the United States’ tax collection agency and official administers of Congress’ Internal Revenue Code.

As described in the United States District Court’s decision, the IRS served up a summons to the exchange regarding records of almost every single Coinbase user over a period of several years. The exchange, however, failed to comply — leading to the IRS narrowing its request to significantly fewer individuals with larger accounts. The Northern District of California both granted and denied parts of the United States of America’s Petition to Enforce, resulting in Coinbase’s being ordered to turn over more than 10,000 users’ information, on suspicion that they failed to pay federal tax on their cryptocurrency profits.

The information provided to the IRS by the cryptocurrency exchange includes users’ “taxpayer ID, name, birth date, address, and historical transaction records for certain higher-transacting customers during the 2013-2015 period.”

Coinbase Is on Your Side

Though nobody enjoys dealing with the IRS, it’s worth noting that Coinbase sought to protect its users’ information from the federal government’s tax collectors. As explained by the exchange:

In December 2016, the Internal Revenue Service issued a summons demanding that Coinbase produce a wide range of records relating to approximately 500,000 Coinbase customers. Coinbase fought this summons in court in an effort to protect its customers, and the industry as a whole, from unwarranted intrusions from the government.

Bitcoin Taxes

Coinbase also considers the result of its initial non-compliance a victory, writing:

After a long process, the court issued an order that represents a partial, but still significant, victory for Coinbase and its customers: the order requires Coinbase to produce only certain limited categories of information from the accounts of approximately 13,000 customers.

Have you received a notification from Coinbase in regards to your information being turned over to the IRS? Do you appreciate the exchange’s initial non-compliance? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Wikipedia Commons, Coinbase, and Bitcoinist archives.

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Led 12

New Data Shows Coinbase May Be Spamming the Bitcoin Network

· January 12, 2018 · 7:30 am

US exchange and wallet provider Coinbase is facing fresh criticism from both users and Bitcoin industry figures over its delayed SegWit adoption.


‘You Alone Are Spamming The Network’

As the company continues to suffer technical outages due to high demand, its effect on the Bitcoin mempool has become the source of renewed calls for SegWit as a priority.

“You need to batch your outgoing transactions,” Twitter user Civ Ekonom wrote in response to Coinbase’s latest reported system breakdown.

You are ALONE spamming the network. If you would use segwit and batch all outgoing transactions the mempool would be EMPTY.

Citing analysis of the mempool as “clear evidence,” the mempool size appears to drop significantly when Coinbase recently suspended sending Bitcoin. This has added fuel to existing community anger that the exchange has failed to implement SegWit, which would significantly reduce the cost of Bitcoin transactions it handles.

New GM: Performance ‘Totally Unacceptable’

CEO Brian Armstrong has also borne the brunt of accusations regarding his exchange’s performance and roadmap. Last year, he claimed SegWit was not a high priority on Coinbase customers’ wishlists.

In a different response to the outage, Blockchain real estate personality Ragnar Lifthrasir went as far as to suggest firing Armstrong would serve to improve Coinbase’s reliability.

New Evidence Emerges, Points to Possible Insider Trading at Coinbase

Earlier this week, Bitcoinist reported on a user-filed petition on Change.org to force a SegWit upgrade as a priority. That petition has now accrued over 8000 signatures.

In its latest official correspondence Thursday, Coinbase focused on “improving customer experience” via its new general manager Dan Romero.

Romero had previously announced SegWit as engineering priority number three in 2018.

“Dan’s first priority as GM will be improving the Coinbase customer experience,” Armstrong explained.

…Dan will provide an update on what we are doing to improve the experience and I will continue to post about all of the major activities at the company.

Romero meanwhile called the past technical performance throughout 2017 “totally unacceptable.”

What do you think about Coinbase’s SegWit situation? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Twitter, Shutterstock

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Led 05

Coinbase Rejection Sees Ripple Drop 20% As Rumors Evaporate

· January 5, 2018 · 5:15 am

Ripple’s seemingly unstoppable bull run took a hit Thursday after US exchange Coinbase dispelled rumors it would add the asset.


‘No Plans For New Assets’

From highs above $3.60, the latest milestone in what has become the biggest-ever annual appreciation for a major cryptocurrency of around 35,000%, the platform’s XRP token swiftly fell by almost a fifth following the news.

As of press time Friday, XRP is correcting and is still down 9% versus USD and 15.4% against Bitcoin (BTC).

A blog post from Coinbase reads:

As of the date of this statement, we have made no decision to add additional assets to either GDAX or Coinbase. Any statement to the contrary is untrue and not authorized by the company.

Coinbase Treads Carefully

Rumors had previously circulated widely that XRP was due to debut on the largest exchange in the US. The veiled nod to those rumors is no doubt a prudent step as Coinbase is continuing to face major criticism and scrutiny after it emerged staff leaked information about Bitcoin Cash (BCH) being added to its books.

Meanwhile, the Coinbase blog post continued to say:

A committee of internal experts is responsible for determining whether and when new assets will be added to the platform in accordance with our framework.

The Coinbase Effect

It then added the following:

These individuals — and all employees at Coinbase — are subject to confidentiality and trading restrictions.

Ripple executives, like its investors, nonetheless remain tangibly confident about the asset’s prospects. As Bitcoinist reported Thursday, the token’s utility as a currency is a major boon to users and, thus, has a tremendous innate value, according to CEO Brad Garlinghouse.

Co-founder and chairman Chris Larsen, who owns a 37% stake of Ripple’s implied value of $320 billion, could well be the world’s ‘implied’ new richest person, with a fortune topping that of both Bill Gates and crypto-skeptic Warren Buffett.

XRP also found its way into traditionally Bitcoin-critical media outlet Russia Today’s cryptocurrency recommendations for 2018, along with Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Cardano, and Litecoin.

What do you think about Coinbase’s decision not to add Ripple? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Pixabay and Bitcoinist archives.

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