Říj 19

Nordea in Money Laundering Scandal After Calling Bitcoin ‘High-Risk’ for Money Laundering

Nordic banking giant Nordea Bank is allegedly implicated in a multi-million money laundering scandal. Reportedly, the case is related to another recent money laundering scheme involving Denmark’s Danske Bank.


Nordea in Hot Water 

Banking giant Nordea Bank, headquartered in Helsinki, is alleged to have accepted criminally-sourced funds from banks located in Lithuania and Estonia.

The giant confirmed that it’s aware of the report on Tuesday October 16th:

We are aware of the report, and at Nordea we work closely with the relevant authorities in the countries in which we operate, including the Nordic Financial Intelligence Units.

According to Sweden’s public broadcaster SVT, some 365 individual accounts at the bank have allegedly received payments from shell companies amounting to 150 million euros. What is more, the media, which claims to have access to the report, outlines that part of those payments came from the Estonian branch of Danske Bank.

Danske Bank

Bitcoinist reported earlier in October that Denmark’s Danske Bank found itself at the center of a tremendous Russian money laundering scandal, alleging that it has illegitimately processed some $235 billion.

And Yet, Cryptocurrencies Present a Threat?

Danske Bank reportedly laundered more money than the entire cryptocurrency market capitalization alone. That’s one bank at one location.

According to the report mentioned above, Nordea is also at the center of yet another 150 million money laundering scandal. This is the same bank which banned all of its 31,000 employees from trading Bitcoin 00 because of its “high risks.”

Back in February, another major Dutch bank – Rabobank, was also fined for accepting at least $369 million in illegal proceeds from drug trafficking and other activity from the period between 2009 and 2012.

Rabobank also warned against the risks of Bitcoin. Quickly after that, the bank took a major U-turn and announced that it plans to offer a cryptocurrency wallet.

Coincheck NEM laundered

The obvious conclusions aside, it’s important to note that multiple international governmental institutions have already spoken up on the risks of cryptocurrencies associated with illicit activities.

A report from the Financial Services and Treasury of Hong Kong on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment revealed that cryptocurrencies are widely left out of organized crime.

The National Crime Agency of the UK, in its National Risk Assessment of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing report of 2017 also outlined that the risks of cryptocurrencies used for money laundering is “relatively low.”

What do you think of the recent allegations against Nordea? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Říj 18

Goldman Sachs and Mike Novogratz Invest in Cryptocurrency Startup BitGo

BitGo, a company which provides institutional-grade investors with compliance, security, and custodial solutions for cryptocurrencies has closed its Series B funding round bringing in $58.5 million. Goldman Sachs and Novogratz’ Galaxy Digital Ventures LLC contributed with $15 million of said amount.


Investing in a $1 Trillion Cryptocurrency Wallet

In an official release from today, BitGo disclosed that it has successfully finalized its Series B funding round, bringing in a total amount of $58.8 million USD.

The lineup of investors includes companies like Valor Equity Partners, Craft Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, DRW, and, most recently – Mike Novogratz’ Galaxy Digital Ventures LLC and Goldman Sachs’ Principal Strategic Investments Group.

According to Bloomberg, Novogratz and Goldman invested a total of $15 million in this round of funding. The money is designated to support BitGo’s development of a $1 trillion cryptocurrency wallet.

Notes BitGo CEO, Mike Belshe:

This strategic investment from Goldman Sachs and Galaxy Digital Ventures validates both our market opportunity and unique position. No one is better positioned than BitGo to serve institutional investors who want to trade cryptocurrencies and digital assets. That’s why we’re focused on figuring out what it takes to secure a trillion dollars. The market’s not there yet but our job is to be ready first.

Novogratz Backtracks

The former Goldman Sachs partner sat down with CNBC’s “Cryptotrader” Ran Neu-Ner in July, outlining that the next price rally will require a “custody from a trusting source.”

Novogratz

At the same time, the permabull was quite straightforward on his position regarding existing custodial solutions at the time, namely BitGo, saying:

If I’m at the state of Wisconsin, I’m not going to risk my job on a company called BitGo.

Speaking on his most recent multi-million dollar investment–in the company he had no confidence in just four months ago–Novogratz said:

We have been impressed with BitGo’s world class team, their deep technical understanding of digital assets as well as their ability to deliver institutional-quality products to investors. Our team is excited to support BitGo as it enters into this next phase of growth.

Bitcoin (BTC) price 00 remains unfazed by the positive news in what has been an auspicious week for cryptocurrency so far and amid rising Bitcoin futures volumes on the CME.

“Institutional movement into the space continues …,” commented Bitcoin entrepreneur Alan Silbert.

What do you think of Goldman Sachs’ and Galaxy Digital Ventures’ most recent investment in BitGo? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Bitcoinist archives

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Zář 26

Lamassu Unveils New Line of Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency ATMs

On September 24th, Lamassu announced the introduction of their new line of cryptocurrency ATMs to the public. Lamassu calls its new line of ATMs, “Sintra.” The ATMs herald a new line of ATMs as another crucial step in crypto’s march towards widespread consumer use and accessibility. 


Growing Industry

According to CoinATMrader.com, there are currently roughly 3,750 crypto ATMs installed worldwide. Lamassu has been producing cryptocurrency ATMs since 2013 when they produced their first, which was called the Bitcoin Machine.

While that number sounds impressive, and the number of the crypto ATMs installed continues to grow steadily, it is important to put that number in context. Information from Data.gov, for example, indicates that there are over 5,500 bank-owned ATMs in New York State alone. Crucially, this ATM count does not include independently managed ATMs at convenience stores and other retail locations.

Cost

Pricing for the new crypto ATM’s ranges from 5,200 EU for the cheapest Duoro II model, to 8,900 EU for the highest price Sintra Forte model. The mid-priced Sintra model costs 7,500 EU. The Duoro II model is the newest model of Lamassu’s original Crypto ATM, and features one-way fiat to crypto conversion, while both the Sintra and Sintra Forte feature two-way conversion.

The new models offer a bevy of features, designed to make buying and selling crypto through the machines as painless as possible. The machines feature a sleek, futuristic look, and are all crafted in Portugal. The body of the machines is crafted out of 2.5mm steel for extra durability.

Owners of these machines can configure their ATM’s to take almost any major currency, and support conversions from fiat to Bitcoin, Zcash, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, and Dash.

While Lamassu does not directly facilitate transactions on the ATM, it does offer a backend exchange trading engine that can steer conversions to liquidity providers. Lamassu’s engine is currently connected to BitPay, Bitstamp, Kraken, and Coinbase.

Fees and Regulatory Issues

ATM operators have control over the fee structure charged by their machines and can profit by either charging direct fees or adjusting the spread charged by their liquidity provider.

On Lamassu’s website, the estimates indicate that a machine needs roughly $800-$1,000 worth of daily transactions to break-even. Lamassu estimates that the average monthly turnover on their machines is roughly $20,000 and rising.

The Sintra line of ATMs features numerous compliance features, but investors interested in purchasing and managing a machine need to do their due diligence regarding the legality of operating an ATM in their jurisdiction.

Prospective ATM operators in the United States must ensure they are following both federal and state laws. Bitcoin ATMs would currently fall under the criteria of “Exchangers,” according to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. In turn, they must register as “Money Service Businesses.” If you are interested in purchasing a machine in the United States, this primer is a handy starting point.

As interest in Crypto continues to grow among the retail investing community, ATMs will likely be a key “on-ramp” for investors into the crypto industry.

What do you think of Lamassu’s New ATMs? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Bitcoinist archives, Shutterstock, Lamassu.is

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Srp 31

Bitcoin Cash Will Cost 0.3% Of Bitcoin, Ripple to $0.01 By 2023: Forecast

Ripple (XRP) will be worth just 1 US cent within five years and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) will fade, a damning new report from ICO advisory firm Satis Group predicts August 30.


Satis: Ripple ‘Misleadingly Marketed’

Forecasting the future trajectory for the cryptocurrency industry, Satis drew a sharp distinction between assets that “apply unique value propositions within deep and viral markets” and copycat tokens.

Bitcoin, Monero, and Decred, as examples of the former, are set for huge gains by 2023 – Bitcoin should costs $96,000, Monero $18,000 and Decred $535.

Bitcoin Cash, on the contrary, is an example of “cryptoassets which attempt to inherit brand recognition and provide minimal technological advantage to incumbents.”

Ripple, Satis continues, represents “cryptoassets which are misleadingly marketed, not needed within their own network, and have centralized ownership/validation.”

As such, Bitcoin Cash 00 will pale in comparison to Bitcoin at $268 in five years’ time, while Ripple will de facto become worthless. Satis adds:

Most ‘Other Utility’ application-specific networks hold very little value, in their current construct.

Cryptocurrency Market Value Will Hit $3.6T

The remarks constitute some of the most pessimistic to hit Ripple’s XRP token 00, which has battled a slew of negative publicity this month. As Bitcoinist reported, confusion of its token utility and conflicting statements by executives have earned the company scorn from various sources.

Similarly embattled, Bitcoin Cash has become a focus for criticism and even ridicule this month following the alleged liquidity issues suffered by mining giant Bitmain, a major bagholder of the altcoin.

Beyond those assets’ failings, Satis meanwhile predicts, cryptocurrency markets, in general, are set to boom throughout the coming decade.

“We estimate the amount of cryptoasset market value needed to support economic activities to expand from (~$500 billion) next year to ($3.6 trillion) in 2028,” the company states.

The findings are part of a five-installment series examining the cryptocurrency industry.

What do you think about Satis Group’s forecast? Let us know in the comments below!


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Srp 30

Venezuela Shatters Bitcoin Trading Records With 500,000,000 Bolivars Per Week

Trading between Bitcoin and the Venezuelan Bolivar (VES) has beaten all records to pass 500 million for the first time last week.


7 Days, Half A Billion Bolivars

Data from Coin Dance, which tracks volumes on P2P platform Localbitcoins, confirms that the seven days ending August 25 saw BTC/VES achieve volumes never seen before.

The results come the same week Venezuela revalued the bolivar to create the new Sovereign Bolivar, lowering the currency’s value by 96 percent in the process.

For the week, Localbitcoins processed 506.3 million VES, a figure which dwarfs the previous all-time high of 175.8 million seen the week before.

In Bitcoin terms, the figure was also the highest ever, at 1143 BTC.

The Venezuelan government has come under extensive criticism for rolling out its Sovereign Bolivar project, which is tied to its national cryptocurrency Petro. As Bitcoinist reported, both Petro and the VES have received broad votes of no confidence, sources describing the latter as a “scam on top of another scam” last week.

Following conversion day August 20, the government in the meantime has even released a dedicated app to help citizens calculate how much money they actually own.

Rampant hyperinflation, which Caracas claims the new currency will help calm, is contributing to the confusion and ever-decreasing purchasing power of ordinary Venezuelans.

Government Clampdown ‘Will Affect’ Bitcoin Users

While Bitcoin has been gaining popularity in line with the deteriorating economic situation, the latest decisions by authorities appear to be fuelling interest and uptake.

Venezuela: Record Bitcoin Buying Spree Continues Amid Hyperinflation

As Purse.io head of support Eduardo Gomez, who is a Venezuelan national, noted on Twitter August 27, citizens traveling abroad will now have to notify banks of their intention to leave the country. This, according to documents, is a result of the government forcing them to reveal the IP addresses of those who access their banking setup from abroad.

“Many Venezuelans who live outside the country use their national bank accounts to send money to family members and to purchase local currency from traders by selling USD,” Gomez commented.

“Bitcoin users will be directly affected by this. Many (Localbitcoins) traders live outside the country.”

What do you think about Venezuela’s trading volumes? Let us know in the comments below!


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Srp 01

Winklevoss Author Sells New Book About the Twins Entitled ‘Bitcoin Billionaires’

After penning the book which inspired “The Social Network,” you may have expected Ben Mezrich’s Winklevoss interest to have waned. However, he recently wrote a new book detailing their adventures in Bitcoin, which will be available next spring.

Winklebros

You’ve all heard the story of how the ‘evil’ automaton Mark Zuckerberg co-opted Facebook from the heroic Winklevoss brothers, who really invented it.

The subsequent, and highly publicized, lawsuit led to a settlement of $65 million for our third-favorite twins. The lawsuit later became the subject of Mezrich’s book “The Accidental Billionaires”.

It also pre-empted the Winklevoss’ discovery of Bitcoin. Mezrich’s new book “Bitcoin Billionaires,” tells that story. It seems like billionaires and Winklevii are twin obsessions of Mr. Mezrich. UK publisher Little, Brown has just picked up the title.

Licking their Wounds

We join the story with the brothers planning to use their bumper payout to set up a venture capital fund in Silicon Valley. Whilst there, a questionable character convinced them to forget about the ‘now mainstream’ Facebook. If they wanted to be true disruptors, they needed to buy into the new concept of cryptocurrency.

And buy in they did. Starting when the price of Bitcoin was still just $6, they eventually invested $11 million. They now hold 1 percent of all Bitcoin in circulation. Last November when the market cap hit $100 billion dollars, this officially made them Bitcoin billionaires.

ETF vs SEC

In more recent times, their battle to receive SEC approval for their Bitcoin exchange-traded fund has been eating up column inches. It was again denied at the last hearing, although this time one of the four commissioners tweeted her dissent.

No doubt Mr. Mezrich will be holding out for a positive outcome to this ongoing saga before publication of the book, to create a compelling final chapter. Or perhaps he’s hoping this drags on and on interminably, giving him the perfect excuse to write another sequel?

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Čvc 19

Crypto Company Change Launches App to Trade Bitcoin Commission-Free

A stream of positive developments and new products is helping to boost Bitcoin’s adoption rate. One of the latest products is Change Wallet, a mobile app for trading Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies with zero commission fees.


Change CEO Predicts: Cryptocurrencies Will Be Used As Much As Fiat Money

Change, a company headquartered in Estonia and financed from Singapore, has launched Change Wallet – a mobile app that allows users to buy and convert between cryptocurrencies. This multicurrency app supports digital assets such as Bitcoin, Ether, Ripple, Litecoin, and Tether.

According to the company, Change Wallet facilitates the execution of financial transactions and payments and provides access to an array of other financial services.

Significantly, no commission fees are charged for the transactions executed with Change Wallet, according to Change’s press release dated July 18, 2018.

Change Wallet is now available to residents of the European Economic Area in IOS and Android operating systems.

Joining the experts predicting that Bitcoin is here to stay and that it is eventually going to be used in everyday life, Change’s CEO Kristjan Kangro declared at the launch of the app:

Cryptocurrencies will soon be used just as much as traditional currencies by the masses when paying for good and services.

Solving Traditional Banks’ Major Limitations

Change Wallet allows sending, receiving, and storing several cryptocurrencies as well as fiat currencies, including US dollars and Euros.

As Change’s whitepaper explains, because Change Wallet is a mobile app, it solves three significant problems affecting traditional banks.

Specifically, users can handle all transactions via the app, thus avoiding the inconvenience of needing to go to the bank. Moreover, Change Wallet can provide banking services to the millions of unbanked people around the world.

As Bitcoin continues its inexorable trajectory to test the USD 8,000 resistance mark, the crypto community is encouraged by initiatives, such as Change’s, that contribute to increasing Bitcoin’s adoption rate. One of Change Wallet’s supporters, Roger Crook, former CEO of DHL Global Forwarding, says:

I’m backing this project because I think it’s got an extremely great future, and I see that Change is going to have challenges going forward. I have no doubt that this business is going to thrive and grow globally over the coming years.

How do you think the commission-free Change Wallet will impact Bitcoin trading? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of AdobeStock, Twitter/, Change

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Čvn 30

Poland Bitcoin Community Files Complaint Against Bank Account ‘Denials’

Poland’s cryptocurrency industry lobby group the Polish Bitcoin Association (PBA) confirmed it has complained to regulators about banks’ denial of services to businesses June 27.


Banks ‘Aim To Remove Virtual Currency’

In a statement sent to the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (OCCP), the PBA cites financial institutions closing and denying bank accounts as proof they “clearly aim at removing virtual currency entities from the market.”

Poland continues its chequered history regarding cryptocurrency, which still lacks official laws but faces a de facto ban on ICOs.

The government has sought to change the situation, various media outlets note, but its position appears to jar with that of the country’s banking sector.

The PBA claims a total of fifteen institutions refused an account to 52 cryptocurrency-related businesses, and closed the accounts of a further 25.

Of these, mBank, Poland’s fourth-largest banking group, refused nine accounts and closed three.

Poland The Black Sheep

“…The effects of the banks’ actions described clearly aim at removing virtual currency entities from the market, despite the fact that such activities are legal and conducted with dignity,” the complaint states.

In view of the above, action by the regulators is necessary, and this notice and its requests are fully substantiated.

Last month saw local cryptocurrency exchange operator BitBay suspend all activity in Poland and relocate to Malta, copying a move by industry heavyweight Binance in March. Its motive also appeared to be banking difficulties.

The situation differs increasingly from neighboring Lithuania, where a concerted effort to formalize the cryptocurrency and ICO sector has been underway this year.

As Bitcoinist reported this week however, the country’s progressive stance on crypto is not without its problems.

Banking sources have expressed concerns about Russian capital entering the local economy, something which is undesirable, a central bank board member said.

Lithuania released formal ICO guidelines in June, the government announcing the “brave new” cryptocurrency economy was “here to stay.”

What do you think about Poland’s banks’ stance on cryptocurrency businesses? Let us know in the comments section below!


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Čvn 09

South Korea Claims $28M Tax From Bithumb But Finds No ‘Illegal Activity’

· June 8, 2018 · 8:00 pm

South Korea’s National Tax Service (NTS) has requested $30 billion won ($28 million) in taxes from major cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb in a move which has gained positive feedback from the community.


Bithumb ‘Will Not Object’ To Tax Bill

Local media reported on June 8 that Bithumb, which posted revenues of 427 billion won ($397 million) in 2017, will pay the bill following an audit from South Korea’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

As a result of the audit, which occurred in April, the IRS also confirmed that investigators had not found “any illegal activities such as tax evasion.”

An NTS official said:

The IRS has conducted a tax investigation against Bithumb for the 2014 to 2017 business years. […] We understand that Bithumb has decided to pay the related taxes without any objection to the imposed tax amount.

Cryptocurrency commentators received the news warmly on social media, noting that Bithumb getting the all-clear from regulators marked a positive step forward for South Korea’s exchange industry.

South Korea Stabilizes Crypto

Earlier this year, the government moved to clamp down on exchange operators, banning multiple accounts and forcing users to link their exchange account with their bank account. Foreign accounts were also halted, along with provisional warnings from authorities that exchanges would soon need to respond to tax obligations from the previous 2017-18 tax year.

The boon for Bithumb, meanwhile, comes as Seoul continues to consider reversing its previous ban on ICOs. A National Assembly committee dedicated to studying the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ recommended during a meeting on May 29 that it plans to “establish a legal basis for cryptocurrency trading, including permission of ICOs.”

Also among its recommendations was making “improvements” to the “transparency” of the local cryptocurrency industry, along with “establishing a healthy trade order,” local news outlet Business Korea reported.

What do you think about Bithumb’s tax bill? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of BigStockPhoto

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Kvě 19

eToro’s 9M Users Set To Increase with US Exchange & Wallet Launch

· May 18, 2018 · 8:00 pm

UK-based trading platform eToro has announced it will launch an international cryptocurrency exchange and mobile wallet, debuting in the US for the first time.


$100M Series E Funds Put To Work

As part of a keynote speech at the Consensus 2018 conference in New York which finished May 16, eToro CEO Yoni Assia confirmed the move, which will provide US traders with ten cryptocurrency pairs.

etoro

“U.S. crypto holders have a strong appetite for diversified portfolios,” he said quoted in an accompanying press release.

The platform’s ambitious plans come as little surprise on the back of a $100 million Series E funding round which it completed in March this year.

Prior to that, eToro had revealed it now counted nine million users on its books as it targeted international markets in Asia.

China Minsheng Capital was the major force behind the funding round, Bitcoinist reported at the time, with Japan’s SBI Group, Korea Investment Partners and World Wide Invest also among the contributors.

Ex-Samsung Executive Leads eToro USA

For the US, which is notorious for its patchwork regulatory landscape regarding trading, the company will create offshoot eToro USA, led by ex-Samsung director of innovation strategy Guy Hirsch.

“We know that there is a strong demand in the U.S. for crypto and we are excited to be able to offer U.S. investors the opportunity to learn about and invest across multiple cryptocurrencies,” Hirsch commented.

It is not yet known how the company will navigate obstacles such as New York’s BitLicense scheme, which has seen multiple cryptocurrency operators deny service to its residents.

The wallet and exchange will see a gradual rollout “over the coming months,” the former “eventually” being available for both Android and iOS devices.

In addition to standard functions, the wallet will also contain as yet unspecified “other features.”

Will eToro’s expansion move boost cryptocurrency trading in the US? Share your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, eToro, Twitter

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