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Facebook Faces Fresh EU Scrutiny As WhatsApp Edges Closer To Mobile Payments

The European Union is actively probing Facebook’s Libra digital currency project for competition law violations, mainstream media report.

Facebook’s Libra Has ‘Potential Anti-Competitive Behavior’

According to Bloomberg, which cited official correspondence August 20, the European Commission is quizzing Libra participants via a dedicated questionnaire.

The document originally appeared earlier this month, and forms Libra’s latest scrutiny by international regulators.

The focus of the enquiries is “investigating potential anti-competitive behavior,” Bloomberg quoted officials are stating. In particular, it is Facebook’s spin-off in charge of administering Libra, the Libra Association, which now lies in the spotlight.

According to Bloomberg, the EU is “concerned about how Libra may create ‘possible competition restrictions’ on the information that will be exchanged and the use of consumer data.”

As Bitcoinist reported, Libra became a headache for authorities worldwide almost as soon as its whitepaper went live. With some of the world’s biggest finance names involved, concerns about data privacy and the power to control a user’s economic power continue to surface.

The US held dedicated hearings into Libra and cryptocurrency more generally in July, while China has even prepared its own state-backed digital currency in response. 

The EU probe further involves the wider crypto sphere, the Commission adding it was “monitoring market developments in the area of crypto assets and payment services, including Libra and its development.”

WhatsApp Eyes Indonesia For New Mobile Payments

Facebook has promised to contend with the worries of regulators regarding Libra, while sources have acknowledged it may never launch at all.

Given the company’s user data handling record, one Bloomberg correspondent said commenting the EU move, it could be next to impossible for it to gain a significant foothold in the payments space. 

That said, Facebook-owned WhatsApp is already preparing to debut payments for users in Indonesia. Reportedly in talks with various digital payments operators, Reuters stated Tuesday, the instant messenger wants to offer its users mobile payments. 

Local regulations mean that WhatsApp will not offer P2P payments itself, the publication added, while a full payment offering for the Indian market also awaits permission to launch.

The plans do not make explicit references to Libra, which Facebook previously said would involve its subsidiaries including WhatsApp and Instagram in future. 

As Bitcoinist reported, for its part, India is currently on course to ban cryptocurrency altogether, unless a token falls within parameters under discussion among authorities. 

What do you think about Facebook and WhatsApp’s plans? Let us know in the comments below!

Images via Shutterstock

The Rundown

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EU Adopts New AML Directive to Combat Cryptocurrency Crimes

The European Union recently adopted a new anti-money laundering (AML) directive specifically targeting cryptocurrencies. It is the fifth AML directive of the EU, and aims to detect, investigate, and prevent financial crimes in the region.

Details of the Directive

The directive tagged “Directive (EU) 2015/849” allows Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) to access cryptocurrency wallet information. These security agencies will be able to identify the owner of a cryptocurrency address, based on this latest policy. A portion of the directive reads:

It is therefore essential to extend the scope of Directive (EU) 2015/849 so as to include virtual currency exchange platforms and custodian wallet providers. Competent authorities should be able to monitor the use of virtual currencies. This would provide a balanced and proportional approach, safeguarding technical advances and the high degree of transparency attained in the field of alternative finance and social entrepreneurship.

The major highlights of the new directive include:

  • A better understanding of the risks posed by virtual currencies as well as prepaid cards.
  • Improved cooperation between FIUs
  • More comprehensive checks on transactions originating from “high-risk third countries.”

One crucial aspect of the new policy is balancing its objectives of hindering criminal finance without disrupting the region’s payment ecosystem. Commenting on the new directive, Bulgarian finance minister and President of the European Council said:

These new rules respond to the need for increased security in Europe by further removing the means available to terrorists. They will enable us to disrupt criminal networks without compromising fundamental rights and economic freedoms.

Cryptocurrency and ML/TF

A large part of the government opposition to cryptocurrency lies in the anonymity of the system. Many governments around the world are quick to declare that virtual currencies provide a viable conduit for money laundering and terrorist financing (ML/TF).

Recently, Robert Novy, Deputy Assistant Director of the U.S. Secret Service’s Office of Investigations called for “additional legislative actions” to address the dangers posed by privacy coins. Rep. Robert Pittenger of North Carolina even described virtual currencies as “one of the greatest emerging threats to U.S. national security.”

However, experts like Matt Peyer disagree, saying cryptocurrencies are for the most part overrated for terrorist finance. According to Peyer, while virtual currency transactions are somewhat anonymous, lack of places that accept them in known terror havens make them unsuitable for supporting terrorist activities.

In fact, a report from the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) revealed that only 7.929 BTC were linked to terrorist financing between 2015 and 2017.

What is your opinion on the new EU AML directive? Do you think cryptocurrencies are a viable means for terrorist financing and financial crimes? Keep the conversation going in the comment section below.

Image courtesy of, Shutterstock

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New EU Cybersecurity Laws to Cover Online Banking, Markets

Source: bitcoin

EU flag

The European Union (EU) parliament has approved a new set of cybersecurity laws, ordering firms in “essential service” industries like banking, health, energy and transport to bolster their defenses against cyber-attacks.

Also read: Industry Report: How China, France, and the FBI Do Bitcoin

The EU network and information security (NIS) directive represents the first EU-wide standards on cybersecurity. According to an EU parliament statement, they are designed to increase cooperation between member states as well as to prevent attacks on EU countries’ interconnected infrastructure.

EU Parliament rapporteur Andreas Schwab said:

“Cybersecurity incidents very often have a cross-border element and therefore concern more than one EU member state. Fragmentary cybersecurity protection makes us all vulnerable and poses a big security risk for Europe as a whole.”

Requirement to Report Breaches

Of note is a provision within the laws covering digital service providers — such as cloud services, search engines and online marketplaces.

As well as taking measures to protect their infrastructure, these companies will also have to report any major breaches or security incidents to national authorities.

Given the law’s specific mention of online financial services, and KYC/AML requirements for bitcoin exchanges falling in line with those covering banks, there’s no doubt digital currency service providers will need to take extra care to protect their clients’ property and personal data.

The European parliament approved new regulations to cover bitcoin exchanges earlier this year. While not seen as particularly restrictive, the regulations called for “precautionary monitoring” of the industry and the appointment of a watchdog to keep an eye on its development.

Another set of proposed rules are aimed at making trading more transparent and preventing tax evasion. It should be noted, however, that most digital currency exchanges operating in the EU already have customer identification requirements similar to those of banks.

What EU Countries Will Need to Do

For NIS, Union member states will need to identify which companies are operating as “essential services” using set criteria, e.g: is the service critical for society and the economy? Is a security incident at those companies likely to have “significant disruptive effects” on providing their services?

A new EU-wide strategic co-operation group will form to share information and assist EU member states in building their cybersecurity capacity. The existing European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) will assist with implementation.

They will be required to form a network of “Computer Security Incident Response Teams” (CSIRTs) to handle incidents, identify risks, and formulate a set of responses.

The NIS directive will come into force 20 days after publication in the EU Official Journal, after which member states will have 21 months to draft individual national laws that comply.

Will the new laws make any difference to the way European bitcoin exchanges handle security and customers’ personal information?

Images courtesy of User Irinawave, Wikimedia Commons.

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New EU Cybersecurity Laws to Cover Online Banking, Markets

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Bitcoin Price Bursts Ahead, Nearing $700 USD

Source: bitcoin

Bull Market Bitcoin Price

As if there were any doubts among fans, Bitcoin has proven to be as innovative and surprising as ever. In what has been a long-awaited moment, the bitcoin price has risen beyond what anyone expected and is hovering at around the $682 mark at press time.

Also read: Counterparty: The Fuel for Bitcoin Price Stability?

Naturally, the next step is to go even further. Many are wondering if $700 isn’t just wishful thinking, anymore. While predictions regarding a further advance may be unclear at this time, bitcoin fanatics everywhere are celebrating like they mean it.

Jose Rodriguez, VP of payments for Mexico-based bitcoin exchange Bitso, explained with enthusiasm:

“Today we had the highest price in MXN since we started operation in April 2014. This is the highest registered price. In 2013, there were still no bitcoin exchanges in Mexico. We believe in the technology and its applications and use cases to bring better financial services for humanity, and not only speculation.”

Bitcoin Price Rises in Midst of Global Instability

As we approach the oncoming Bitcoin halving, it seems that Bitcoin is attempting to prepare itself for when production is cut down. Are more people purchasing bitcoin hoping to stock up before miners reduce their work by half?

The other potential factor contributing to the rise in price could be what’s being called the “Brexit vote.”

The UK is presently pondering whether or not to leave the European Union, and many of its politicians feel that a vacation from the EU could ultimately cause harm to its economy. Some have suggested that Bitcoin is being purchased by Europeans who are fearing the worst.

Regardless of the circumstances, the price of bitcoin is higher than it’s ever been, and many of us couldn’t be happier. As one analyst claims:

“In yet another large single day move, bitcoin price surged from $580 to $650… The popular USD exchanges have mostly achieved the $650 level… There seems to be additional advance in store.”

However, words of caution are still being thrown out to those who will listen, as a downward jolt of the coin’s price is still expected to hit hard within the coming months:

“The bitcoin price… is surging higher as bullish trade easily scales the order books during low liquidity weekend trade. Given the pace of advance, the $680 level may be achieved within the next 24 hours. It seems a futile and often-failed call, but at some point the bitcoin price… can be expected to put in a massive downward price correction. It may occur from the $680 level, so trade long aggressively but with caution.”

Will the bitcoin price hit $700 soon? Post your thoughts and comments below!

Images courtesy of

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Bitcoin Price Bursts Ahead, Nearing 0 USD

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Industry Report: EU Gets Serious, Blockchain Does Healthcare

Source: bitcoin


Want to catch up on the latest digital currency news? Recently, the EU has been making waves in the blockchain space. Take a gander at the stories below to see what you’ve been missing.

Also read: Industry Report: Kraken, Others Receive Large Investments


The European Union is getting serious about bitcoin. Digital currency exchange Bitstamp has received an official license from Luxembourg, a little country with some large aspirations, making it Europe’s first fully regulated institution for bitcoin. Several newcomers are now looking to get in on the trade, and crypto popularity in Europe is expected to increase tenfold.

The license is set go into effect on July 1st of this year. One of the highest priorities of all digital currency applications is customer safety, and Bitstamp isn’t willing to take any chances.

Co-founder and CEO Nejc Kodric explained in a press release:

“We have put a lot of time and resources into the regulatory process with the goal of ensuring customers feel more confident in using Bitstamp’s exchange and products across the European Union… We are proud to have taken this important step for our customers and the digital currency/blockchain industry globally.”


First came Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act; Obamacare. Now, the blockchain is spreading its wings in the world’s health industry, and the ways we do medicine and emergency surgery are about to undergo some massive changes.

With the introduction of Gem Health, a blockchain based around healthcare data is emerging with the goals of keeping records and data safe and sound, and connecting people on a global scale to reasonable and accessible healthcare providers. It is also being implied that Ethereum will be integrated for the handling of private health infrastructure.

Micah Winkelspecht, founder and CEO of Gem, stated:

“Blockchain technology will create a new fabric that connects the entire healthcare industry, weaving together critical data from every stage of the continuum of care… Blockchains address the trade-off between data availability and data security. For healthcare, this enables hospitals, insurance companies and labs to connect in real-time and share information instantly and seamlessly – without exposing those channels to theft or forgery.”

Through Gem Health, those in need of appropriate medical attention can likely rest assured that their information will be kept private and invulnerable to dangers like hackings and related cyber-attacks.

What stories would you like to see mentioned in our weekly industry reports? Post your thoughts and comments below!


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Industry Report: EU Gets Serious, Blockchain Does Healthcare