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  1. Several of the largest Canadian media companies, including Bell and Rogers, are asking the Federal Court for a new and broader piracy blocking order. To prevent multi-million dollar losses, the media giants want Internet providers to dynamically block IP-addresses that provide access to pirated NHL streams. Two months ago, Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal upheld the first pirate site blocking order in the country. Following a complaint from major media companies Rogers, Bell and TVA, the Court confirmed that major ISPs must block access to domains and IP addresses of pirate IPTV service GoldTV. There was little opposition from Internet providers, except for TekSavvy, which argued that the injunction threatens the open Internet. In addition, the company warned that it could open the floodgates to many other blocking requests. TekSavvy’s hunch may not be far off. This week, Rogers, Bell and TVA are back in Canada’s Federal Court, requesting a new and much more advanced piracy blocking order. Dynamic NHL Piracy Blocking Order The new request isn’t targeted at a specific site or service. Instead, it aims to shut down any pirated live streams of National Hockey League (NHL) games. This is similar to existing dynamic football blockades, which are commonplace in the UK and other European countries. The media companies, which include Bell’s CTV Television and The Sports Network, note that technology is rapidly evolving. Pirates constantly change the way they offer content which makes ‘static’ site-blocking orders useless in some cases. This is particularly true for live streaming. The ‘pirates’ who offer these streams anticipate countermeasures and rotate between IP addresses and servers, sometimes even during live broadcasts. Thousands of Streams The rightsholders cite data from anti-piracy partner ‘Friend MTS,’ which found that pirates offered 53,443 illegal live streams in a four-month period earlier this year, with a mean of 822 distinct IP addresses per week. “Some of these servers are only active and can only be identified during the live broadcast of a popular event and pirates are even able to adjust their infrastructures during the broadcast to attempt to circumvent enforcement measures,” the media companies write. “The Plaintiffs are thus asking this Court to also adapt existing remedies and grant the only effective remedy available in these circumstances to stop such blatant and widespread infringement” Rolling Updates During Games Through the Court, the companies request an injunction that requires Canadian ISPs including TekSavvy, Cogeco, Distributel, and Eastlink, to block a constantly updated list of IP addresses. This dynamic blockade should remain active during the live broadcast of NHL games. The legal paperwork provides several examples for streaming servers located around the world. These are offered through a variety of websites and services, including usagoals.video and livetotal.tv. The media companies stress that they have already tried other options to address live streaming piracy. For example, Rogers sent notices to hosting providers, and payment providers and advertisers have been alerted to the infringing activities as well. These anti-piracy measures had some effect, but these efforts didn’t stop pirated live streams from being offered. “Unauthorized Streaming Servers providing access to high quality streams of NHL Live Games in Canada are still widespread and can be accessed easily by consumers with a simple search on a search engine, and in many cases for free,” the rightsholders add. Bell, Rogers and Groupe TV say they invest hundreds of millions of dollars a year to acquire the rights to broadcast NHL live games. But due to online piracy, between 583,000 and 974,000 subscribers have been lost. With a dynamic blocking order, the rightsholders hope to tackle this live-streaming problem more effectively and they hope the Court will agree. Not All ISPs Are Eager to Block Needless to say, not all ISPs are eager to implement even broader blocking mechanisms. Aside from the costs of maintaining this system, there are concerns that they go far beyond what the law envisioned. TekSavvy’s vice-president of regulatory affairs Andy Kaplan-Myrth tells TorrentFreak that the company is very concerned about this motion. “Without any policy oversight by the government, these media incumbents are attempting to springboard from targeted site blocking to active internet filtering,” Kaplan-Myrth says.
  2. Last month, police in Japan arrested three people for uploading so-called "fast movies" to YouTube. These edits reveal entire plotlines of major movies in just a few minutes while breaching copyright law, movie companies claim. Police have now made two more arrests of people alleged to have provided narration for the edits. Uploading full movies to YouTube is an activity that can lead to takedowns, copyright strikes and even lawsuits. Despite the dangers, some people go ahead nonetheless but even those sharing short clips now have reason for caution. Movie companies in Japan say they are increasingly worried about the rise of so-called “fast movies”. These are edits of popular movies that take place over the span of about 10 minutes but instead of being uploaded for review or critique, they instead aim to make viewing the original movies unnecessary. Anti-piracy group Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA) previously informed TorrentFreak that action would be taken against uploaders and last month that prediction came true when three people were targeted in Japan. These people weren’t subjected to a civil lawsuit but instead were arrested by police as part of criminal action based on alleged breaches of the country’s Copyright Act. Allegations and New Arrests According to CODA, the Miyagi Prefectural Police Life Safety Division and the Shiogama Police Station made the arrests claiming that the suspects edited and uploaded four movies owned by Toho Co., Ltd and Nikkatsu Corporation. The edits were approximately 10 minutes in length and due to their popularity generated advertising revenue for the uploaders, making the offenses commercial in nature. The videos also featured added narration, which has now resulted in more arrests this week in Japan. “The Miyagi Prefectural Police Headquarters and the Shiogama Police Station arrested two additional suspects who reside in Tokyo and referred them to the Sendai District Public Prosecutors Office for uploading films to YouTube without the right holders’ consent in violation of the Copyright Act,” CODA informs TorrentFreak. “There were three suspects arrested on 23rd June. The police investigated and found that the two suspects colluded with the three and narrated the unauthorized re-edited versions of the films or otherwise contributed to the crime.” Police Action Seems to Act as a Deterrent While copyright complaints can deter some users from uploading or continuing to upload allegedly infringing content, it appears that having the police involved can elicit even more rapid results. CODA says that prior to the first set of arrests, it had confirmed the existence of 55 accounts on YouTube offering so-called “fast movies”. With news of that action in the air, people are now taking action to avoid being part of a new sweep. “After the arrest, many of such accounts have been closed and many of the fast movies have been deleted,” CODA says. Whether any additional arrests are in the pipeline is currently unknown but the anti-piracy group says it will maintain the pressure to ensure that the prevalence of “fast movies” is kept under control. “CODA shall continue to take appropriate measures, including international enforcement measures against overseas platformers, to identify such malicious uploaders, so that copyright should be properly protected,” the group concludes.
  3. Riot Blockchain, a Nasdaq-listed mining company, reported Thursday on its Bitcoin production last month. The company’s numbers jumped a little more than 400% year-on-year, as a result of the increase in mining power. The recent mining crackdown in China is also helping companies like Riot to keep growing. The company plans to continue increasing its mining resources after acquiring 43,500 miners from Bitmain. Riot Blockchain Ramps Up Production Riot Blockchain, an American Bitcoin mining company, delivered its Production and Operations updates for June on Thursday. The company reported growth on the bitcoin mined of more than 400% year-on-year. It produced 243 bitcoin this June, a big increase from the 48 bitcoin mined in the same month last year. The company has produced 1,167 bitcoin this year. These numbers represent an increase of 130% compared to last year. There is a key fact that allows Riot Blockchain to achieve these results: The Chinese mining exodus. Caused by the regulatory crackdown in China, the decrease of hash power securing the network created a profit opportunity for some companies. The recent difficulty adjustment, one of the biggest drops in Bitcoin history, seems to be creating unique opportunities to get into bitcoin mining. This situation is expected to continue for some time till Chinese mines manage to relocate. A report from Hashrate Index predicts that between 30% and 40% of this hashrate will travel to the U.S. However, these relocations may face delays of up to one year considering the logistics that surround Bitcoin mining. Expansion Plans in Motion Riot Blockchain is already on its way to expanding mining operations. Earlier this year, the company announced the purchase of more than 42,000 S19j Antminers from Bitmain for $138.5 million. This deal secures more mining muscle for Riot starting from next November. Also, the company acquired Whinstone in May, one of the biggest bitcoin mining operation data centers in Texas. This acquisition allows it to secure a working location and energy for the acquired miners. At the time of writing, Riot Blockchain stock sits at $32.83. Bitcoin currently trades at $33.8K.
  4. Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz has ordered the seizure of cryptocurrency funds raised by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas. His department has reportedly started taking control over digital wallets used by the terrorist group to collect crypto donations from abroad. Defense Ministry of Israel Targets Crypto Addresses Used by Hamas Minister Gantz approved the seizure of the wallets on June 30, the Times of Israel reported on Friday. The National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing (NBCTF) published a list of targeted addresses and wallet details used by Hamas to raise funds in bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies. They were identified during a joint operation with the Ministry of Defense. Ministry of Defense, Israel. The publication adds that the stockpiles of cryptocurrency were being managed from the Gaza Strip, which is under the control of Hamas. The wallets were employed by the Palestinian organization in its efforts to collect money from foreign sources following the 11-day conflict with Israel in May. The seizure has affected the Al Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing. According to a blog post by blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis, the investigation focused largely on analysis of open-source intelligence such as social media posts and blockchain data. The blockchain analysis reveals the movement of donation funds to exchanges. Chainalysis published a graph showing bitcoin transactions carried out by addresses listed by the NBCTF, many of which have been attributed to individuals involved in donation campaigns. Source: Chainalysis “The orange hexagons represent deposit addresses hosted by a large, mainstream cryptocurrency exchange and controlled by individuals named in the NBCTF announcement,” explains Chainalysis. “On the graph, we see how funds moved to those exchange addresses from Hamas donation addresses, often passing first through intermediary wallets, high-risk cryptocurrency exchanges, and money services businesses (MSBs),” the company detailed. According to the report, two addresses named in the announcement received funds from addresses associated with the Idlib office of Bitcoin Transfer, a Syrian cryptocurrency exchange connected to terrorism financing cases. A third address received funds from a Middle East-based MSB that had previously received funds from the Ibn Taymiyya Media Center (ITMC), another organization linked to terrorism financing. Besides BTC, the ministry intercepted payments in ETH, XRP, USDT, and DOGE, the Times of Israel claims. The crypto cash has been seized in accordance with Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Law from 2016. In a statement released by the defense department, Benny Gantz was quoted as saying: The intelligence, technological and legal tools that enable us to get our hands on terrorists’ money around the world constitute an operational breakthrough. Seizure of Hamas’ Funds Proves Bitcoin Is ‘Safe’ Currency According to Noa Mashiah, CEO of the Israeli Bitcoin Association, “the seizure and forfeiture of Hamas’s donations proves that Bitcoin is a safe currency.” He elaborated that “criminals who make use of this financial system will find out the hard way that the open transaction log, the blockchain, will expose them and allow law enforcement agencies to act against them.” The executive said that the news of the confiscation marks “a significant improvement over the anti-money laundering ban and also over international bank accounts hidden behind a bank secrecy wall.” He insisted that the operation proves regulators in Israel should “adopt and use” bitcoin “as it makes it possible to expose the bad and do good with the good.” “Once you go beyond the boundaries of the blockchain to the worlds of trading platforms, you immediately lose anonymity and then, as in the present case, states and law enforcement agencies are able to locate and freeze the currencies of criminal and terrorist organizations,” added Omri Segev Moyal, CEO of cybersecurity firm Profero. He also noted that “when the network is completely exposed, you can very accurately track the trajectory of the coins and locate their final destination.” Hamas called on its supporters to send bitcoin in 2019, when the Islamist movement needed the money to deal with its financial problems. A few months later, the terrorist group established an experimental program to collect money via an elaborate system designed to facilitate international cryptocurrency donations.
  5. Santander Bank in the U.K. has become the latest high street bank in the country to block fund transfers to cryptocurrency exchange Binance. Recently, Barclays and Natwest banks reportedly made a similar move. A number of Santander Bank customers reported on social media that they have received an email from the bank stating, “We’re stopping payments to Binance for your protection,” beginning on July 8. The bank explained: This follows the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)’s recent warning to consumers and is to help protect you from fraud. For now, we want to be restricting payments from finance to your account(s). The email continues: “We are taking this step as we want to do everything we can to protect you and help keep your money safe. We’ll continue to monitor the situation, and let you know if anything changes.” A Santander customer representative further explained on social media: “In recent months we have seen a large increase in UK customers becoming the victims of cryptocurrency fraud. Keeping our customers safe is a top priority, so we have decided to prevent payments to Binance following the FCA’s warning to consumers.” Recently, two other major high street banks in the U.K. made a similar move to block funds to Binance: Barclays and Natwest. The FCA was not the only regulator that issued a warning on Binance. The authorities in Thailand, Cayman Islands, and Japan also issued a similar warning about the crypto exchange. Binance recently suspended euro deposits via SEPA bank transfers. At the time of writing, this option is still disabled on the exchange’s website.
  6. The CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk, is a fan of base layers when it comes to blockchain technology and on Friday, Musk explained there’s “merit” to the Dogecoin chain “minimizing transaction cost.” Dogecoin developers are in the midst of preparing to update the Dogecoin network by gradually deploying the updates to the network “over multiple software releases.” Tesla’s Elon Musk Wholeheartedly Believes in Dogecoin’s Base Layer On Friday morning (EDT), top dogecoin (DOGE) Youtuber Matt Wallace tweeted about the fact that the Dogecoin upgrade was coming in the near future. “Reminder,” Wallace tweeted. “The Dogecoin update is coming soon. It will position Doge perfectly to become one of the most used currencies in the world.” Following the tweet, Elon Musk decided to respond to Wallace’s statement and said: "BTC [and] ETH are pursuing a multilayer transaction system, but base layer transaction rate is slow [and] transaction cost is high. There is merit [IMO] to Doge maximizing base layer transaction rate [and] minimizing transaction cost with exchanges acting as the de facto secondary layer." The message from Musk follows his June 27 statement on Twitter, where he said it was “important to support” the Dogecoin upgrade. Dogecoin core developer Patrick Lodder and Dogecoin core maintainer Michi Lumin have been working with a team that has been coding the upgrade. “The proposed changes below bring the decision power towards which transactions to include back to miners instead of the relay network and increase configurability of all fee-related parameters, enhancing the sovereignty of each individual node operator and the community as a whole,” the new fee structure for Dogecoin core says. Back in May, Tesla’s CEO said he was hoping block times would increase 10X and the fees would drop 100X. Lodder’s new fee structure states: - Lower the minimal relay fee to 0.001 DOGE - Lower the dust limit to 0.01 DOGE - Set the default block inclusion fee rate to 0.01 DOGE - Bring back a functional free transaction space - Lower the default fee rate to 0.01 DOGE Responses Sent to Musk See Recommendations Like Solana, the Lightning Network, Stacks, Drivechain, and Bitcoin Cash Currently, the cost to send dogecoin (DOGE) is 0.0052 DOGE per byte, which can be translated into 2.13 DOGE per transaction ($0.454). During the first week of May, dogecoin transaction fees touched a high of $2.37 per transfer. Dogecoin prices at that time were much higher than they are today. Some people responded to Musk’s base layer transaction rate tweet and explained that there are existing blockchains that are already up to speed. “Solana, you literally are just asking for Solana,” one crypto fan replied to Musk on Friday. Software developer Patrick Dugan responded to the individual’s Solana tweet. “The one thing that would make defi on Doge better than Solana is its PoW mining and the impact of that on amortizing solar and battery installations,” Dugan tweeted. Of course, supporters of the Lightning Network (LN), which has seen significantly less adoption than many other networks used for BTC sidechain purposes, tried to convince Musk to look into the LN protocol. LN was recommended to Musk by people like Udi Wertheimer and others. Bitcoin Cash supporters also chimed in and responded to Musk’s base-layer statement. “Meanwhile BCH is already doing it… sound electronic cash for everyone.. even the poorest people on the planet,” a BCH supporter wrote in response to Musk’s dogecoin statement. Other people responded by recommending things like Paul Sztorc’s Drivechain (BIPs 300+301) and the Stacks protocol. A Stacks representative wrote that Musk’s requests have been innovated on for quite some time now and he believes Stacks offers these benefits. “Everything that Elon Musk is saying is what the space has been innovating for the past 5 years,” Louise Ivan Valencia tweeted to Musk. “TLDR; Stacks adds scalability [and] smart contract functionality to Bitcoin without modifying it.”
  7. On Thursday local reports from Mechanicville, the city located in Saratoga County, New York, say that an old hydroelectric plant constructed back in 1897 was almost dismantled, but today the plant is mining bitcoins. The Mechanicville facility is considered one of the oldest renewable energy plants in the world, and it’s now making “more money with bitcoin than selling the electricity” to the grid. Historical Hydroelectric Machinery From 1897 Mines Bitcoin In the historic district of Mechanicville, New York, there’s an 18.3-acre site that is considered one of the oldest renewable energy facilities in the world. Mechanicville Hydroelectric Plant was built in 1897 by the Hudson River Power Transmission Company and years ago the plant was almost shut down. The plant is now owned and operated by Albany Engineering Corp (AEC) and the company signed a deal with National Grid in order to have continued access to cheap renewable energy. Mechanicville Hydroelectric Plant is the longest-running hydro plant in the U.S. and one of the oldest in the world. Photo credit: Paul Buckowski/Albany Times Union. Jim Besha, AEC’s CEO, told local reporters that AEC is currently making 3X more money than it would be selling electricity to National Grid, the multinational electricity, and gas utility company. “We can actually make more money with bitcoin than selling the electricity to National Grid,” Besha remarked in a recent interview. The firm only makes $0.03 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) selling power to National Grid. Besha further said: "It’s the best (type of bitcoin mining) because we’re using renewable energy. We’re just doing it on the side, experimenting with it. We’re buying used servers." Albany Engineering Corp Converts the Bitcoin Into Cash The site leverages the powerhouse built in 1897, an earth embankment, and a concrete non-overflow dam. Furthermore, the power site also utilizes a 700-foot-long concrete gravity overflow dam. AEC has dedicated a lot of capital and resources toward extensive renovations and in 1989 the facility was recorded in the National Register of Historic Places. According to Besha, the AEC CEO is a little skeptical of bitcoin and he told the press the firm immediately converts to cash. Besha said that he would have liked to sell the renewable energy to National Grid, but the multinational electricity and gas utility company reneged on an old agreement. AEC has had a long-running legal battle with National Grid who signed a contract with AEC in 1993. The deal was that the Mechanicville Hydroelectric Plant and AEC would sell power to National Grid priced just under the going market rates. However, when Besha got the Mechanicville operation licensed, National Grid called the company and allegedly said: “We’re not going to honor this contract. And if you don’t like it, take it to the judge.” AEC got the plant 100% operational but Mechanicville’s local news reports note that the original 1800s machinery had a hard time maintaining a profit. That was until bitcoin mining changed the trend.
  8. President Nayib Bukele’s adoption of cryptocurrency as legal tender in his country is not being met with deep understanding by most of his fellow Salvadorans, a new survey suggests. Almost half of the respondents admitted they knew nothing about Bitcoin, while two-thirds aren’t ready to be paid in crypto. Bitcoin Adoption ‘Not at All Correct,’ Half of Salvadorans Say In a blow to President Bukele’s crypto-friendly policy, poll results released Thursday showed that around 54% of people in El Salvador viewed the adoption of bitcoin (BTC) as “not at all correct.” Another 24% said it’s “only a little correct.” Less than 20% fully approved of the government’s crypto move. The survey has been conducted by Disruptiva, which is affiliated with Francisco Gavidia University, Reuters reported. The pollster reached out to 1,233 people across the Central American nation between July 1 and 4, and the study has a margin of error of 2.8%. El Salvador has been using the U.S. dollar as its national currency for years but last month the Congress supported Bukele’s push for cryptocurrency adoption. Lawmakers approved legislation giving bitcoin (BTC) official currency status in the country, which became the first in the world to do that. President Bukele has been promoting bitcoin also as a way to facilitate remittances from Salvadorans living abroad. The poll indicated, however, that a large portion of the country’s population, 46%, knew “nothing” about the cryptocurrency. And another 65% of the respondents stated they were not willing to be paid in crypto. During an event presenting the outcome of the survey, the head of Disruptiva’s Institute of Science, Technology and Innovation, Oscar Picardo, commented: "This is a risky bet on digital transformation." Supporters of 39-year-old Nayib Bukele in the Salvadoran Congress approved the bill making bitcoin (BTC) an “unrestricted” legal tender in early June. Since then, the unique decision has been met with concerns over how the crypto-friendly move will affect the country’s economy. The IMF warned of “a number of macroeconomic, financial and legal issues,” while the World Bank refused to assist El Salvador in the technical implementation of the cryptocurrency. Last week, the U.S. State Department urged the president to ensure that bitcoin is “well regulated.”
  9. Presenting at the Talent Land Jalisco 2021, Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak called bitcoin an “amazing mathematical miracle.” Wozniak said he’s not a bitcoin investor per se, but “believes in it for the future.” Steve Wozniak Is Not Necessarily Invested but Still Believes Bitcoin Is an ‘Amazing Mathematical’ Creation Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak is a fan of bitcoin and he’s mentioned the subject on numerous occasions over the years. Back in August 2018, Wozniak revealed he was participating with a crypto startup and spoke highly about bitcoin. “It’s so independent,” Wozniak said at the time. “It’s kind of like the internet when it was brand new… I was amazed at the technology behind it,” Wozniak added. Still months before the internet comparison, Wozniak told an audience at the Nordic Business Forum in Sweden that he wasn’t obsessed with bitcoin either. “I had bitcoin to experiment with and when it shot up high, I said, ‘I don’t want to become one of those people that watches it, watches it and cares about the number,’” Wozniak said at the time. Speaking at the Talent Land Jalisco 2021 event this week, Wozniak had a similar outlook and highlighted that he doesn’t invest in bitcoin. The event which was 100% in digital format, saw more than two million attendees dedicated to the development of technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship projects. Despite not investing in bitcoin, Wozniak said that the leading cryptocurrency was still a very profound invention. Wozniak further stated: "Bitcoin is the most amazing mathematical miracle." Wozniak’s Efforce Crypto Coin and His Failed Battle With Google Steve Wozniak also has a cryptocurrency that bears his name called WOZX and the crypto asset was developed by the Efforce team and Wozniak. WOZX was developed “as the energy savings token to allow contributors of the Efforce platform to benefit from the energy savings generated by efficiency projects worldwide.” WOZX currently trades for 0.00002146 BTC or roughly $0.719 per unit at the time of writing. The market cap on Friday is hovering above $82 million and has made some gains in recent times. Two-week stats recorded on Friday at 2:00 p.m. (EDT) show WOZX has gained 43.3% in two weeks and 14.0% in a month’s time. Last year in July, Steve Wozniak and 17 other victims sued Google and its subsidiary Youtube for allowing crypto scams using his name. However, less than 12 months later, Wozniak failed to win the lawsuit against Youtube and its parent, Google LLC.
  10. The Chinese government is taking its digital yuan test one step further. Now, 10 million users will be able to test and use the currency after applying to join a whitelist in selected state banks. This new phase of the test aims to detect possible problems in a more broad testing environment. China is preparing its user base and its digital yuan technology to be used in the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics. Digital Yuan Whitelist Open The government of China is expanding the testing of its CDBC. According to reports from an officer of the People’s Bank of China, it opened a whitelist to further experiment with the digital yuan. Citizens interested in being part of this initiative can request their inclusion in this new trial phase at selected state banks. More than ten million citizens are already on this whitelist, said Fan Yifei, deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China. However, the extent of this test and how the digital yuan will be distributed have not been clarified. While the digital yuan has been tested in several cities, its acceptance is still far from being ubiquitous. China is ramping up the volume of users and currency in these tests, intending for the digital yuan to be used in the next Winter Olympics. Fan Yifei stated: "We have the confidence to continue increasing the scope of the trials." Testing Ramps Up This whitelist program is just the latest of the stages that the People’s Bank of China has executed. Earlier last month, Beijing and Shanghai started giving away red envelopes of digital yuan to their citizens. These two cities will give out more than 500,000 red envelopes. However, these tests might not be getting all the attention the government wants. According to some reports, people are hesitant to switch from known payment methods to the digital yuan. As a consequence, the government of China is moving to clean house. A ban on cryptocurrency mining and trading is now in effect in several key provinces. Yunan, Sichuan, Qinghai, and Inner Mongolia have ousted miners from their territories. This gave rise to a mining exodus that is affecting the operation of the Bitcoin blockchain. Also, the government has acted against established companies involved in the cryptocurrency business. This is the case of Beijing Qudao Cultural Development, a company that was shut down for its alleged participation in providing software to facilitate cryptocurrency transactions.
  11. With over 1.3 billion inhabitants, Africa accounts for over 16% of the world’s population. However, the continent still falls short when it comes to providing its residents with legitimate or government-issued identification documents. As some studies have revealed, as many as 400 million Africans do not have the appropriate identification documents. Lack of Required Documents Creates Problems Unfortunately, the lack of a national identification document precludes many from accessing financial services, participating in national plebiscites, or even travelling across national borders. To help reduce the number of people that are in this situation, one African tech start-up, Flexfintx, has created a virtual solution to the challenge — digital IDs. To understand how digital IDs can potentially overcome the challenge of lacking identification, Bitcoin.com News interviewed Victor Mapunga, the CEO and co-founder of Flexfintx via email. Bitcoin.com News (BCN): Can you start by briefly telling us what motivated you to start this business? Victor Mapunga (VM): In 2018 upon my return to Zimbabwe, I was trying to open a bank account with a local bank and I was surprised that I couldn’t easily provide them with proof of residence, a piece of documentation necessary to open an account that most people don’t have and which is hard to prove. I went from bank to bank collecting registration forms and they all required hard to prove documentation. I spent the next few months researching and asking people in banking halls how long it took them to open a bank account. For some, it was months as they lived in rural areas and had to commute back and forth if they had missing documents. I also learnt later that over 400 million people in Africa face this challenge and are locked out of the broader financial ecosystem. Thus, Flexfintx was born. BCN: Why do you think digital identities are the panacea to this global challenge of using or lacking identification documents? VM: Manual verifications are expensive and time-consuming, whilst performing KYC for users in emerging markets like Africa is seen as too complex and risky. This results in financial institutions, crypto & fintech companies abandoning this market segment. Digital IDs like the one we developed — Flex ID — unlike traditional ones are completely decentralized, with only the user in full control of their data. This decentralized approach makes it easier for multiple institutions to verify information without having to develop multiple integrations with different service providers. The use of this ID drastically reduces the cost of verification to negligible sums. BCN: What are the other benefits of digital identities? VM: A digital identity wallet like Flex ID is capable of storing multiple credentials from e-KYC credentials, healthcare records, prescriptions and academic transcripts all with one application that is interoperable and completely self-sovereign. This means a user is able to perform multiple verifications with different organisations without having to submit voluminous paperwork. Blockchain-based IDs vs Traditional Systems BCN: Can you explain how blockchain technology is involved with the digital identity solution you are offering? VM: We have a Layer 2 network built on top of the Algorand blockchain called the Flex Network (FN). Every issuing authority and verifier organization will be required to either run or use a SaaS API, to interact with a FN node. The node acts as a trustless way to create, update, and fetch information about digital identifiers (DIDs) from the blockchain. This enables verifiable credentials to be independently issued and verified against the public keys associated with the issuer and holder DIDs. The core technology allowing us to build self-sovereign identity is the DIDs and these are essentially a data format mapping unique identifiers to a set of public keys. A decentralized key management system (DKMS) on the blockchain allows us to maintain a global, shared, immutable ledger of DIDs, and associated public keys to enable independent cryptographic verification of digital signatures. BCN: The concept of digital identities is not a very new one and there are players in this field already. How is your start-up doing things differently from the competition? VM: The naive solution is digital identity, but history has proven that central data stores are high-value hacking targets and can affect millions of users in case of a leak. Flex ID is a self-sovereign digital identity, which means the digital identity is fully owned and controlled by the user/thing being referred to. Flex ID allows users to securely exchange their credentials and gain access to services without intervening third parties. Analogous to a real wallet, it contains credentials like driver’s licenses, national IDs, land certificates, etc. Issuance of digital credentials is more secure, cheaper, and instantaneous than physical ones which are prone to forgery. Physical credentials are expensive to issue and manage and take weeks if not months. Verification of digital credentials is more trustworthy, cheaper, and instantaneous than physical credentials because they allow verifiers to onboard more customers and expand their service offerings with less risk as digital credentials cannot be faked. Ownership of digital credentials allows holders to access services digitally and remotely without needing to visit in-person offices which are only present in major urban centres. They are also self-sovereign and recoverable so users cannot lose or harm their credentials accidentally. WEF Recognition BCN: Your company Flexfintx was recently recognised by the World Economic Forum as one of seven African tech start-ups that are “shaking up the global tech ecosystem.” What does this mean for what you are trying to achieve? VM: We are extremely honoured to be selected into this year’s cohort by the World Economic Forum as a Tech Pioneer. We are especially proud to be the first company from Zimbabwe to ever grace the list and the only one representing Southern Africa. We see it as a vote of confidence in the region’s ability and efforts to develop global problem-solving solutions and a thriving startup ecosystem. As part of Tech Pioneers, we are aiming to contribute towards the Forum’s goals, engage other global stakeholders working within the blockchain space, and use the platform to share our experience building solutions within the emerging world. BCN: In your view, who is the ideal candidate for this solution you are offering? VM: Financial organisations, crypto exchanges, insurance and healthcare companies. Virtually any startup which intends on accessing the broader African market will have access to Africa’s identity API through Flex ID.
  12. Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, has become the first national legislature to release a non-fungible token. The special NFT has been created for the country’s new president, Isaac Herzog, who took office this week after his election in early June. Knesset Becomes First Parliament to Issue NFT Isaac Herzog received the token right before his inauguration on Wednesday, the Jerusalem Post reported. The unique NFT represents a copy of the original oath signed by his late father, Israel’s sixth president, Chaim Herzog. President Isaac Herzog With the symbolic gesture, the Knesset becomes arguably the first parliament to create an NFT. “I am excited to present President Herzog with a special memento of his father that includes the oath he signed 38 years ago,” Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy was quoted as saying. Levy also stressed: It is a great honor for the Knesset to implement one of the world’s most innovative technologies in order to preserve such a significant historical document for future generations. In the original file that has been published for the first time, president Herzog senior pledged “allegiance to the State of Israel and its laws and to faithfully carry out my duties as president of the state.” His son, Isaac, did the same on July 7 from the speaker’s podium in the Knesset plenum. The image file for the NFT has been produced by the staff of the Knesset’s Technology and Computing Division using a secure and encrypted mobile device, the newspaper detailed. It will be handed over to staff members of the IT department at the President’s Residence. The idea came up about a week ago, when Chaim Herzog’s oath of office was found in the Knesset archives. Parliament employees were moved by the historic document and suggested giving the new president a copy of it as a gift before his own inauguration. In the past months, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have become a sensation in the art world. The Israeli parliament spent only several hundred shekels to create the file, but the worldwide success of NFTs could boost its value to millions of dollars, the publication ponders. For example, artist Mike Winkelmann recently sold an NFT for $69.3 million, the third-highest price for a work by a living artist. In Israel, the president has a largely ceremonial role and limited powers. The president’s main responsibility is to discuss nominations for prime minister with the leaders of the parties represented in the parliament and give a mandate to form a government. Isaac Herzog was elected by the members of the Knesset on June 2 for a single seven-year term.
  13. A U.S. congressman, Barry Moore, has declared his recent cryptocurrency purchases. He bought dogecoin, cardano, and ether. U.S. Representative Barry Moore from Alabama filed a Periodic Transaction Report (PTR) last week declaring his recent cryptocurrency purchases. According to the filing, the congressman bought cryptocurrency cardano (ADA), dogecoin (DOGE), and ether (ETH) during May and June. Each purchase was worth between $1,001 and $15,000. His crypto investments have decreased in value since his purchases. He bought cardano on May 10, May 11, and May 13. The price of ADA was $1.7652, $1.5559. and $2.009 on those days respectively based on data from Bitcoin.com Markets. The price of the cryptocurrency is $1.4229 at the time of writing. The congressman also declared that he bought dogecoin on June 13. The price was around $0.3275. At the time of writing, DOGE sits at $0.2317. He also bought ether on May 5. The price that day was $4,081. At the time of writing, the ETH price had fallen to $2,370.
  14. The Boston-based crypto financial company Circle has announced the firm plans to go public this year in a merger with Concord Acquisition Corp. Circle revealed the news on Thursday and noted that the company expects to close the deal in Q4 with a valuation of $4.5 billion. Circle Announces SPAC Deal With Plans to Go Public The payments technology company Circle founded by Sean Neville and Jeremy Allaire in 2013 plans to go public soon. The company headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts has operated numerous services during the last eight years and more recently it launched the usd coin (USDC) with Coinbase and the Centre consortium. For a small period of time Circle also owned Poloniex and then sold the exchange, and Circle sold the digital asset trading platform to Voyager Digital in February 2020 as well. Circle was the first company in New York to receive the Bitlicense back in September 2015 and now the company plans to leverage a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merger to get listed. The deal should be settled by the fourth quarter of 2021, and Circle expects the company will net a valuation of $4.5 billion. On Thursday, Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire discussed the subject with CNBC’s Squawk Box broadcast. “We just see an incredible opportunity to grow rapidly and grow around the world, and we think that this set of transactions and becoming a public company really sets us up to be a trusted platform in this digital currency industry,” Allaire remarked on the show. USDC Adoption and Usage Grows Exponential Another report notes that the deal is expected to see $691 million in proceeds funneled into the combined entity. Circle also said PIPE (private investment in public equity) financing will also bolster the firm and stem from companies like Daniel Loebb’s Third Point, Ark Investment Management, Marshall Wace, and Fidelity Management & Research Co. A transcript filed by Circle with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) discusses the SPAC venture and also mentions the growth of USDC. Jeremy Fox-Geen, Circle’s chief financial officer said in a transcribed SEC investor conference call that the company has “seen growing adoption and usage of the USDC across an ever-widening range of use cases. While we believe that the use case for USDC is the same as the use case for a dollar, for many of those use cases, USDC is the better product,” Fox-Geen added. Circle’s cofounder Allaire will remain the CEO and Bob Diamond, chairman of Concord Acquisition will become a board member. Diamond is also the chief executive officer of Atlas Merchant Capital and the former CEO of Barclays plc. “We operate this market infrastructure of USDC which doesn’t have a clear comparable,” Allaire emphasized on CNBC’s Squawk Box. “It’s a fundamental innovation in payment systems, so you might think about large payment technology companies,” Circle’s CEO added.
  15. The crypto asset shiba inu (SHIB) now has a decentralized exchange (dex) platform called Shibaswap and since the trading protocol’s launch, the dex has $1.55 billion total value locked (TVL). The SHIB-fueled dex has a lot more liquidity than most platforms today as Shibaswap has been catching up to popular dex platforms like Pancakeswap and Sushiswap. Shibaswap Dex Gathers Significant Liquidity in 48 Hours Shiba inu has a leg up over dogecoin and baby doge this week as the meme-based crypto asset has launched a dex platform called Shibaswap. The dex Shibaswap is similar to dex applications like Uniswap, Sushiswap, and Pancakeswap the dex that leverages the Binance Smart Chain. During the first 24 hours, Shibaswap gathered more than $1 billion TVL and on Thursday, the TVL jumped to $1.55 billion. SHIB stats show that on Thursday, SHIB is down 5.9% according to Coingecko and SHIB lost 7.9% during the last seven days. However, two-week stats show SHIB has increased by 18.8% and 30-day data shows SHIB is up 6.2%. Currently, shiba inu (SHIB) is swapping for $0.00000813 per token which means a dollar’s worth of SHIB is roughly 123,065 tokens using today’s exchange rates. The developers behind the crypto asset shiba inu (SHIB) have also created other SHIB-related assets like leash ($2,049) and bone ($8.04). The leash and bone tokens are leveraged for different reasons. Bone for instance is given to Shibaswap liquidity providers. Shiba inu’s leash token was meant to be a rebase token pegged to the price of dogecoin (DOGE), however, the token has been “unleashed” and does not rebase. The circulating supply of leash (LEASH) is only 100,000 tokens which is a stark contrast to SHIB’s 497 trillion supply currently in circulation. The Shibaswap contract, the SHIB token and Shiba migrator all pressed ether fees higher on Tuesday. ETH fees have remained higher since the Shibaswap launch. As far as TVL is concerned, Shibaswap is just below Sushiswap’s $2.72 billion TVL but above Bancor’s $1.22 billion and Balancer’s $697 million TVL. Shibaswap’s launch was also attributed to Ethereum network fees jumping from a low average of around $3 per transaction a few days before launch to $6.72 per transaction on July 7, 2021. The director of research at the Block Crypto, Larry Cermak tweeted about Shibaswap and fees on July 6. “Gas is near 100 again as Shibaswap starts taking off and spamming Ethereum’s blocks. We live in a clown world,” Cermak wrote.
  16. Bank of America has become the latest major bank to make a foray into the cryptocurrency sector. According to an internal memo, the bank has created a team dedicated to researching cryptocurrencies. Bank of America believes that it is “uniquely positioned to provide thought leadership” on cryptocurrencies and the technology behind them. - Bank of America (BOFA) has created a new team dedicated to researching cryptocurrencies, according to an internal memo seen by Bloomberg. A spokeswoman for the bank confirmed the contents of the memo. - The new crypto team will be led by Alkesh Shah, a founding member of the Data & Innovation Strategy Group at Bank of America. It will report to Michael Maras, who leads the bank’s global fixed income, currencies, and commodities research. Besides cryptocurrencies, the team will also cover technologies tied to digital currencies. - Candace Browning, head of Bank of America’s global research, said in the memo: "Cryptocurrencies and digital assets constitute one of the fastest growing emerging technology ecosystems. We are uniquely positioned to provide thought leadership due to our strong industry research analysis, market-leading global payments platform and our blockchain expertise." - A growing number of investment banks have begun offering or are in the process of offering cryptocurrency services to their clients. They include Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Standard Chartered, Wells Fargo, and DBS.
  17. Visa Inc. announced Wednesday that the transactions via crypto-linked Visa cards exceeded $1 billion in the first quarter. The company further said that it is partnering with 50 major cryptocurrency platforms “to launch card programs that make it easy to convert and spend digital currency at 70 million merchants worldwide.” Visa Announces $1 Billion in Crypto Card Transactions and Partnerships With 50 Crypto Platforms Visa announced Wednesday that more than $1 billion worth of cryptocurrency was spent by consumers globally through crypto-linked Visa cards in the first six months of the year. The payments giant also said that it is partnering with 50 leading crypto platforms “to launch card programs that make it easy to convert and spend digital currency at 70 million merchants worldwide.” Visa CFO Vasant Prabhu told CNBC: “We see a lot of volume on our [network] of people buying cryptocurrencies at these various regulated exchanges and as far as we can see that trend continues.” He added: "We are doing a lot to create an ecosystem that makes cryptocurrency more usable and more like any other currency. People are exploring ways in which they can use cryptocurrencies for things they would use normal currencies for." Among crypto platforms that Visa is working with in its Fintech Fast Track Program are Coinbase, Blockfi, Circle, and FTX. The program is focused in part on making cryptocurrency more practical for consumer and business spending. The partnerships will make it easy for clients to convert and spend cryptocurrencies at 70 million merchants worldwide, including those that do not accept digital assets. Among the features being worked on is letting users spend fiat and earn cryptocurrencies as a reward. Cuy Sheffield, Visa’s head of cryptocurrency, told the Insider that with more than $1 billion spent on crypto-linked Visa cards in the first half of 2021, he is optimistic there is more to unlock. He explained: "The merchants don’t have to change anything. It will be the same as any other Visa transaction to them. But on the backend, the crypto assets are instantly converted into fiat."
  18. A bill has been introduced in Argentina to allow workers to receive their salaries in cryptocurrency. He explained the idea is that workers “can strengthen their autonomy and conserve the purchasing power of their remuneration.” - Argentina’s national deputy for the Mendoza province, José Luis Ramón, tweeted that he has introduced a bill allowing workers to get paid in bitcoin. He wrote, as translated by Google: "I presented a bill so that independent workers … have the option of receiving their full or partial salary in cryptocurrencies." - He added: “The idea is that they can strengthen their autonomy and conserve the purchasing power of their remuneration.” - The Argentine lawmaker said that cryptocurrencies “have been used for a long time, because of the advantages they offer.” - The deputy noted that “This project was born from our participation in the Knowledge Economy forum some years ago, where we saw the need to solve some problems.” - Following El Salvador making bitcoin legal tender, Argentina deputy Francisco Sánchez temporarily put laser eyes on his profile picture, tweeting, “I can’t believe it, but this is how it is.” - Cryptocurrency adoption has been growing in Argentina. In May, a report found that Argentines were increasingly interested in bitcoin, ether, and stablecoins. Ripio Director Juan José Méndez commented at the time that “The pandemic accelerated the adoption of crypto platforms. Today we have 1 million users in Argentina when at the beginning of 2020 we had 400 thousand, and it is a figure that grows month by month.” - A survey conducted in Argentina last year showed that 73.4% of participants considered that in the current economic scenario, cryptocurrencies are the most effective way to save and protect their funds.
  19. A UBS survey finds that central bankers see benefits in investing in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. 28% see benefits from cryptocurrency being an uncorrelated asset and “11% would consider it as an alternative to gold.” Central Bankers See Benefits in Investing in Cryptocurrencies Like Bitcoin The 27th Annual Reserve Management Seminar Survey by UBS explores the prospects of cryptocurrencies as investments for central banks. This survey, conducted between April and June, questioned central bankers from close to 30 central banks in all regions globally, UBS explained. According to Switzerland’s largest bank, this survey “is among the most authoritative depictions of official reserve management activities available.” Central bankers were asked what the motivation for central banks to invest in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin would be. The most popular answer was “Learning/ building up knowledge about crypto investing process and investment management.” UBS described, “83% of participants believe that the learning process itself of investing and managing this new asset class would be valuable for their institution.” The second most popular answer was “Uncorrelated asset.” The third was “Signaling technical progress of the institution.” Another common answer was “Gold alternative (independence from Western financial system).” UBS wrote: "28% of participants see benefits coming from cryptocurrencies as an uncorrelated asset, and a further 11% would consider it as an alternative to gold." Central bankers were also asked specifically whether they see cryptocurrencies displacing gold as a safe haven asset in the future. Among respondents, 84% said no, 0% said yes, and 16% said they did not know. “A majority of 84% of participants do not believe that cryptocurrencies will displace gold as a safe haven,” UBS noted. The survey also asked central bankers about central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). 46% of respondents indicated that CBDCs and cryptocurrencies will co-exist, noting that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will not be displaced by central bank digital currencies. Meanwhile, 33% believe that CBDCs will displace cryptocurrencies.
  20. Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao stated his take on the recent regulatory crackdown Binance is facing. In a blog post, Zhao explains Binance aims to comply with local regulations. However, he also stated cryptocurrency was a nascent industry, and there are a lot of uncertainties in the field. Binance has been getting a slew of warning from governments all over the world for failing to comply with specific regulations. Changpeng Zhao States Compliance Is a ‘Journey’ Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance, finally issued a statement on its take about the recent regulatory crackdown the exchange faces. In a letter published yesterday, Zhao describes how Binance is gradually adapting to regulations all over the world. But he recognizes that Binance “haven’t always got everything exactly right.” Zhao further stressed: "Compliance is a journey – especially in new sectors like crypto. The industry still has a lot of uncertainty. We also recognize that with the growth comes more complexity." Binance is facing opposition from local governments due to its failure in complying with local regulations. This is known as localization, and it is one of the most complex matters international companies face due to the costs associated with it. Zhao declared: "We are committed to being compliant with appropriate local rules wherever we operate. We have seen regulators take a more active interest in the industry as-a-whole as the industry goes main-stream." At the same time, Zhao called for clearer regulations. In his view, more regulations are a positive development for the industry, but these need to be easier to follow. This makes more people confident in the industry and will more capital to the market. Binance’s Compliance Plan Zhao stated Binance is taking tangible steps to ramp up compliance. Among these is the adoption of Traveler, a system to comply with the travel rule proposed by the Financial Action Task Force. The system created by Ciphertrace, a blockchain analytics company, automatizes this task. The letter also states Binance Global Compliance team has grown 500% in just one year, achieving partnerships with institutions like United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Interpol. This is the first clear response that Binance issues regarding the recent warnings emitted against the exchange. Regulators from Japan, U.K., Cayman Islands, and Thailand have called out the exchange for offering trading services without registration. And more recently, banks like Barclays have started blocking payments and wires to Binance to protect customers.
  21. The cryptocurrency exchange Crypto.com has revealed the company has entered a partnership with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) as the firm’s global fight kit partner. Reports stemming from people familiar with the matter say the partnership is a ten-year deal worth $175 million and the UFC’s largest sponsorship deal to date. UFC Names Crypto.com First-Ever Global Fight Kit Partner The digital currency firm Crypto.com has partnered with the UFC and will be the mixed martial arts (MMA) organization’s global fight kit partner. This means the Crypto.com brand will be featured on UFC fighter uniforms and the brand will be shown this Saturday, July 10, during the fight between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor. The UFC has been operated by Dana White since 2001 and since he became president of the MMA organization, the UFC has become a multi-billion-dollar enterprise. The picture above is UFC 261: Usman vs. Masvidal held on April 24, 2021, in Jacksonville, Florida. The parent company of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Endeavor Group Holdings, Inc., had an initial public offering five days later on April 29, 2021, and is now a publicly traded firm listed on New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The American holding company Endeavor also owns Miss Universe and represents the professional sports leagues the NFL and NHL. According to unnamed sources speaking with publications like sportico.com and CNBC, the sponsorship deal is the largest in UFC history. Back in March, the UFC partnered with Draftkings in a deal that was reported to be worth $100 million. The people familiar with the matter have said the Crypto.com deal with the UFC was estimated to be around $175 million and for a ten-year period. MMA Organization Has Cryptocurrencies On Its Radar UFC COO Lawrence Epstein mentioned during the announcement that cryptocurrencies are now on the firm’s radar. “If we had talked a couple of years ago, crypto might not have been on the radar, but it’s sort of a sign of the times,” Epstein said to sportico.com. “It’s new, but it’s moving quickly, and it’s very dynamic.” He also detailed that the company was attracted to Crypto.com’s young consumer base and demo. “In general, that consumer is younger, and based upon the data that we’ve seen, that consumer also has a fair amount of discretionary income. It’s an attractive group to try to get interested in your product.” The deal between the UFC and Crypto.com follows the variety of partnerships between crypto firms and sports companies. FTX Trading Limited has led the pack when it comes to sports partnerships with recent deals with MLB, TSM, and even the Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. The NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers recently partnered with the crypto cashback company Stormx. Crypto.com following this trend and the $175 million deal with UFC is quite a sizable investment if the unnamed sources are factual. Sources said during the first week of June, FTX paid roughly $200 million to rebrand the U.S. professional esports organization TSM.
  22. A survey by Nickel Digital Asset Management shows that 82% of institutional investors and wealth managers are planning to increase their cryptocurrency exposure between now and 2023. The survey reportedly asked institutional investors and wealth managers from the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, and the UAE who currently have exposure to cryptocurrencies and digital assets about their crypto investment strategies. It was conducted between May and June. According to the results, 82% of respondents expect to increase their crypto exposure between now and 2023. 40% said they will dramatically increase their crypto holdings, 7% said they would reduce their exposure, and 1% said they would sell their entire holdings of crypto assets. Responding to the question about their future crypto investment plans, 58% of respondents said that the main reason for investing is long-term capital growth prospects. Meanwhile, 38% said confidence in the asset class, and 37% said more leading corporates and fund managers investing in crypto assets. Moreover, 34% said an improved regulatory environment will be a key factor in increasing their crypto allocations. Anatoly Crachilov, co-founder and CEO of asset management firm Nickel Digital, was quoted by Institutional Asset Manager as saying: “The number of institutional investors and corporates holding bitcoin and other cryptoassets is growing and their confidence in the asset class is also increasing.” He elaborated: Many of those professional investors with holdings in crypto assets are looking to increase their exposure … These trends will continue to expand. The CEO noted that the trend is “being driven by several factors including strong market performance during the Covid-19 crisis, more established investors and corporations endorsing the market, and the sector’s infrastructure and regulatory framework improving.”
  23. Russian Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov has revealed that legislative amendments are being prepared on the confiscation of crypto assets. “A serious challenge is the criminal use of cryptocurrencies in our country,” he said. Russia is preparing amendments to the current legislation to allow for the confiscation of crypto assets found to be proceeds from crime, Tass reported Wednesday. The announcement came from the prosecutor general of the Russian Federation, Igor Krasnov. He was speaking at a conference of heads of prosecutor’s offices of European states in St. Petersburg Wednesday. The event is co-organized by the Council of Europe and the International Association of Prosecutors. Krasnov said that virtual assets have become a source of income for criminals, emphasizing that cryptocurrencies are being used for corruption, including bribery. “The latency of these criminal acts has recently been aggravated by the use of crypto assets as bribes,” he asserted, adding that cryptocurrency exchanges have been used as “a way of laundering stolen funds.” The prosecutor general noted that the adoption of the law on digital assets in July last year was “a significant step in overcoming this problem.” He was quoted as saying: A serious challenge is the criminal use of cryptocurrencies in our country … Currently, work is underway to amend the criminal procedural legislation.
  24. A South African regulator, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA), has informed key figures behind Mirror Trading International (MTI) that it intends to impose a fine of $7 million against the now-defunct crypto investment company. Contravention of Financial Sector Law According to a July 6 letter, which has also been sent to the CEO and other members of the managerial team, the regulator says its proposal to fine the company stems from MTI’s involvement in activities that it says “contravened a financial sector law.” The confidential letter’s emergence as well as its leak to the South African media comes just a few days after a court issued a final liquidation order against MTI. Also, as previously reported by Bitcoin.com News, the letter is coming a few months before the court hears submissions from liquidators who plan to argue in favour of having MTI declared a Ponzi scheme. Meanwhile, the FSCA letter also explains how MTI executives — Johann Steynberg, the CEO, and Cheri Marks in particular — used misrepresentations to perpetuate the Ponzi scheme before it finally unravelled in December 2020. It reveals the various provisions of South Africa financial sector law which were allegedly violated by MTI starting in April 2019. For instance, the letter suggests that MTI’s first infraction occurred when “trading was conducted in derivative instruments based on forex pairs, through a platform broker named FX Choice.” Concerning this trading, the FSCA asserts that MTI was “not in possession of a financial services provider licence as contemplated in section 8 of the Financial Advisory & Intermediary Services Act 37 of 2002 (FAIS Act).” The regulator also added: As this was done without a license, MTI was also in contravention of section 111 of the Financial Sector Regulation Act 9 of 2017 (FSR Act). MTI Misrepresentations Similarly, the regulator alleges that during the period between August 2019 and October 2020, MTI contravened the same section of the FSR Act after Steynberg claimed that the company had “employed a bot together with a head trader and trading team to make all its trading decisions.” Meanwhile, in what the FSCA calls the third period — October 2020 to December 2020 — MTI claimed it had “changed its trading activities to trade in derivative instruments based on bitcoin.” This according to MTI meant “it no longer required an FSP licence.” However, the FSCA insists this was not the case as Steynberg’s own submissions to the regulator suggest otherwise. The FSCA said: It is not correct as the submissions received from Steynberg revealed that the crypto assets were alleged to be traded in the form of a derivative product, which means MTI still required a licence from the Authority. It also means that MTI and its senior management was still contravening section 7(1) of the FAIS Act. In the meantime, the letter reveals that members of MTI’s managerial team will be afforded the opportunity to make submissions on the investigation report as well as on the proposed administrative penalty. However, if no such submissions are received by close of business on August 6, 2021, the FSCA “may proceed with the proposed enforcement and regulatory action” the letter said.
  25. The crypto industry keeps entering into mainstream venues via professional sports leagues, athletes, and teams this year. On Wednesday, the Boston Celtics revealed a partnership with the blockchain provider Socios.com. Socios.com to Serve as the Presenting Partner of the NBA’s Boston Celtics On July 7, Socios.com, the blockchain firm that offers fans a chance to be “superfans” allowing them to influence club-specific decisions, trade digital items, and access “ VIP experiences,” has partnered with the Boston Celtics. The professional team is well known and has won the annual championship series of the National Basketball Association (NBA) 17 times. The announcement reveals that Socios.com will be featured on the web portal celtics.com, according to nba.com’s official announcement. “[Socios.com will] serve as the presenting partner of the team’s website, placing it at the forefront of the Celtics’ primary hub for relevant news, updates, video highlights, and information pertaining to the franchise,” the Boston Celtics announcement states. “They will also have the ability to leverage the Celtics marks and logos in connection with various Socios.com international marketing activities.” Boston Celtics’ senior vice president of corporate partnerships, Ted Dalton said the deal is always about the fans. “A large part of the Celtics brand is made up of the great fans that support the organization across local, national, and global levels, and we’re excited to find a partner that values fan engagement as much as we do,” Dalton remarked in a statement. Socios.com claims to have a roster of over 40 major sporting industries like cricket, MMA, esports, soccer, and F1. The blockchain company explained that the partnership with the Boston Celtics is part of the firm’s expansion into U.S. territory. Socios.com’s deal with the Celtics follows the Portland Trail Blazers revealing the professional basketball team partnered with the cashback blockchain firm Stormx on July 1. Last March, a number of NBA team owners formed an NBA blockchain advisory committee for the American professional basketball league.
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