The US Federal Trade Commission will hold a summer workshop on consumer protection against crypto scams.
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will be holding a free workshop this summer titled “Decrypting Cryptocurrency Scams” according to a press release published today, April 30. The workshop’s main aim is to educate the public about risks in the crypto sphere.
The event will include consumer groups, law enforcement, research organizations, and the private sector to examine how scammers are taking advantage of public interest in digital currencies. The FTC’s press release notes that while interest in crypto has increased this year, so have scams. The regulatory agency cites a rise in “deceptive investment and business opportunities, bait-and-switch schemes, and deceptively marketed mining machines.”
The free June 25 workshop will be held at DePaul University in Chicago, and the event will also be available over a webcast. The crypto workshop falls under the FTC’s current work on protecting consumers using new financial technologies, according to the press release.
In March, the FTC created a Blockchain Working Group that will target fraud that occurs in the blockchain and crypto sphere. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also launched a cryptocurrency probe the same month as part of their overall inquiry into how Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) could fall under securities regulations.
The launch of SBI Virtual Currencies is expected this summer, SBI Holdings president Yoshitaka Kitao says it will use Bitcoin Cash as a settlement currency.
Japan`s financial services giant SBI Holdings plans to launch its crypto exchange this summer, local media outlet Business Insider Japan reported April 27.
According to a recent announcement by company president Yoshitaka Kitao, the exchange SBI Virtual Currencies will support coins such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Ripple (XRP), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH).
Yoshitaka suggested that BCH would be regarded as the settlement currency, as the scarcity of BTC makes it expensive and “tiring as a settlement currency”. He added that XRP would be a remittance currency.
While the launch date of the exchange remains unannounced, the SBI president stated that the exchange “will be number one in the blink of an eye.”
"When we do it, it will be number one in the blink of an eye so quickly, so even if a tremendous number of customers come, we can build a system that can bear. [sic] We have to pursue safety thoroughly.”
SBI Group first revealed its plans for SBI Virtual Currencies in October, 2016. In December, 2017, SBI announced it would partner with Bitcoin trading platform Huobi, and would launch the exchange in early 2018.
In March, SBI postponed the launch of the exchange for security improvement purposes. The delay was ostensibly motivated by the Coincheck hack and the Financial Services Agency’s (FSA) subsequently heightened scrutiny of exchanges.
In March, SBI Holdings acquired 40 percent of Taiwanese cryptocurrency hardware wallet company CoolBitX. CoolBitX’s primary offering is its CoolWallet, which can communicate with other devices via Bluetooth.
The US SEC commissioner said the agency’s priority in crypto markets is consumer protection.
US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Commissioner Robert Jackson highlighted consumer protection regarding Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) in an interview on CNBC today, April 30.
When asked about cryptocurrencies and ICOs, Jackson said that he hasn’t yet seen an ICO that wasn’t a security, echoing SEC chairman Jay Clayton’s comments earlier this year. Jackson added that the crypto space “has been full of troubling developments that we’ve seen at the SEC, and especially the ICO space,” adding:
“Investors are having a hard time telling the difference between investments and fraud.”
The ICO market right now, according to Jackson, is a prime example of an unregulated securities market:
“If you want to know what our markets would look like with no securities regulation, what it would look like if the SEC didn’t do its job? The answer is the ICO market.”
However, Jackson doesn’t think this means either more bans or regulation, but rather a focus “on protecting investors who are getting hurt in this market” for right now. He suggested in the future looking into “ways to make those investments work consistent with our securities law.”
At the SEC and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) cryptocurrency hearing in February of this year, the conclusion was reached that digital ledger technologies (DLT) like blockchain need the least regulation, ICOs need the most, and virtual currencies fall somewhere in between.
More recently, during a hearing at the US House of Representatives on April 28, the director of the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance said that the SEC was striving for a “balanced approach” in regards to ICO regulation.
Local sources report that Venezuela has offered to give India a 30% discount on the sale of crude oil if they pay with Venezuela’s Petro coin.
Venezuela will give India a 30 percent discount on crude oil, but only if India uses the state-issued Petro coin, according to an article published yesterday, April 29, from local Indian news outlet Business Standard.
News about the discount comes from crypto exchange Coinsecure CEO Mohit Kalra, who told Business Standard that the offer had been put forward by a team from Venezuela’s blockchain department in India last month:
“They are going to different countries and making offers. The offer that they have given to the Indian government is: you buy Petro and we will give you a 30 per cent discount on oil purchases.”
Business Standard reports that Coinsecure will sell Petro in India after negotiations with the Venezuelan blockchain team. According to Kalra, Coinsecure will also supply white label exchange solutions for Venezuela, meaning that all crypto traders will need to trade on their exchange:
“That would be run by their brand name, but the back-end will be us. We plan to provide them with 10-15 cryptocurrency players.”
A Venezuelan official “indicated they have received response from the private sector in India,” Business Standard notes.
The Petro, which was launched on Feb. 20 in a pre-sale that ended on March 19, has brought up questions internationally over its use in the global economy, especially in regards to the economic sanctions imposed on the country.
Business Standard notes that the Petro has reportedly raised more than $3.8 bln, with more than 127 countries participating in the pre-sale.
An Iranian government minister has confirmed that an experimental model of a domestic digital currency is now ready.
An Iranian government minister has confirmed that an experimental model of a domestic digital currency is now ready, Reuters reported Saturday, April 28. The move closely follows the country’s recent banking blockade on cryptocurrency trading.
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi was quoted by state news agency IRNA as saying;
“The central bank’s [ban] does not mean the prohibition or restriction of the use of the digital currency in domestic development […] Last week, at a joint meeting to review the progress of the [domestic cryptocurrency] project, it was announced that the experimental model was ready.”
Minister Azari-Jahromi first tweeted of the Post Bank’s plans to develop a “cloud-based digital currency” for Iran’s banking system on February 21:
در جلسهای که با هیئت مدیره پست بانک در خصوص ارزهای دیجیتال مبتنی بر زنجیره بلوکی داشتم، مقرر شد این بانک اقدامات لازم برای پیاده سازی آزمایشی اولین ارز دیجیتالی کشور را با استفاده از ظرفیت نخبگان کشور به عمل آورد. مدل آزمایشی برای بررسی و تایید به نظام بانکی کشور ارائه خواهد شد.
— MJ Azari Jahromi (@azarijahromi) February 21, 2018
"A meeting on Blockchain-based digital currencies with the board of directors of the Post Bank set out the necessary measures for an experimental implementation of the country's first digital currency […] A pilot model for review and approval will be presented to the banking system of the country."
Azari-Jahromi has not clarified whether the locally developed digital currency will eventually be made available to the public, nor whether it will be issued by Post Bank (51 percent of which is owned by the government), or by another government or financial entity.
Iran’s central bank banned domestic banks and other financial entities from dealing in cryptocurrencies in early April, citing money-laundering concerns.
April has also seen coordinated measures across Iranian financial institutions to halt a national currency crisis, with the Iranian rial plummeting to unprecedented lows amid fears of a possible renewal of sanctions if the U.S. chooses to exit a multilateral nuclear accord on May 12.
Iran’s pursuit of a state-backed digital currency has caused some to draw the comparison with Venezuela’s centrally-issued Petro, which many have viewed as an attempt to bypass the country’s own crippling international sanctions.