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Reuters: Japanese Regulators to Introduce New Rules Regarding Exchanges’ Cold Wallets

Japan’s Financial Services Agency will reportedly introduce new rules regarding cold wallets for storing cryptocurrencies.

Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) will reportedly introduce new rules regarding cold wallets for storing cryptocurrencies at crypto exchanges, Reuters reported on April 17.

Citing a source familiar with the matter, Reuters reports that the country’s financial regulator will reportedly require cryptocurrency exchanges to strengthen internal supervision of cold wallets — devices for storing digital currency which are not connected to the Internet.

By implementing the new regulation, the FSA purportedly addresses the difficulties of ensuring the security of digital currencies and other risks for the country since it intends to boost the fintech industry to stimulate economic growth.

Although cold wallets are not connected to the Internet and, therefore, provide better security to digital assets, the FSA suggests there could be risks of internal theft. According to the source, a number of exchanges do not have a policy where the person responsible for the storage would be regularly rotated out.

Earlier this month, the FSA heard arguments for no longer classifying bitcoin (BTC) as a currency. During a plenary session at the 41st General Assembly of the Financial Council and the 29th Financial Division Meeting, Professor Iwashita Goto of Kyoto University argued that bitcoin had become something beyond a means of transacting due to its borderless qualities, which have led it to appear throughout the world in its ten-year history.

In March, the FSA approved the second cryptocurrency exchange to begin operations under new regulations. The FSA began issuing licenses to new cryptocurrency exchanges looking to serve the Japanese market. The licensing scheme, which has a long waiting list, was in part a reaction to the events of the past two years, notably local exchange Coincheck’s half-billion-dollar hack in January 2018.

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Crypto Tax Software CryptoTrader.Tax Integrates With TurboTax

A cryptocurrency tax software startup has integrated with major tax filing software TurboTax.

Cryptocurrency-focused tax software CryptoTrader.Tax has integrated with leading American tax software Intuit TurboTax, according to a press release on April 4.

The integration will purportedly allow users to export tax calculations from CryptoTrader.Tax to the TurboTax filing software, which will supposedly make the filing process easier. CryptoTrader.Tax co-founder David Kemmerer said:

“You simply import your cryptocurrency trades into the platform using the technology we have built. The software will automatically crunch your capital gains and losses numbers and generate the necessary tax documents including the IRS form 8949.”

The announcement comes ahead of the April 15 deadline for filing taxes in the United States. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) — the agency responsible for collecting taxes and pursuing tax evaders — classifies cryptocurrencies as property when calculating taxes. As such, filers need to report the original cost, the fair market value of the coin in U.S. dollars when it was traded, and the amount of gain or loss incurred from the transaction.

Earlier this year, major American cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase added resources for customers in the U.S. to claim crypto trades on their taxes. In addition to adding an educational guide on crypto and taxes, Coinbase has also integrated TurboTax, allowing users to automatically import transactions into a crypto-specific section of TurboTax Premier.

In February, TurboTax itself partnered with CoinsTax, LLC to offer cryptocurrency tax calculation to its services. The new service will be available for those who purchased 2018 premier and above versions, and will allow users to import trading data directly from major exchanges, such as Coinbase, Gemini, and Poloniex.

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Report: ICOs Raised $118 Million in Q1 2019, Over 58 Times Less Than in Q1 2018

About $118 million has been raised in ICOs in Q1 of 2019, over 58 times less than $6.9 billion, the amount raised in the same period the previous year.

About $118 million has been raised via initial coin offerings (ICOs) in Q1 of 2019, over 58 times less than $6.9 billion, the amount raised during the same period in 2018, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports on March 31.

The report cites data provided by ICO analytics website TokenData. The WSJ argues that investors have been scared off by regulators’ actions against non-compliant ICOs, as well as by the general bear market over the past year.

One of the latest cases happened in February, when the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged crypto firm Gladius Network with selling unregistered securities after the company self-reported to the commission.

Last month, founding partner of Future Perfect Ventures, Jalak Jobanputra, claimed that venture capital valuations have also been deeply affected by the cryptocurrency bear market.

The recent report also reveals that of the 2,500 projects that TokenData tracked since 2017, purportedly only 45 percent successfully raised money.

Furthermore, WSJ also cites TokenData as saying that only 15 percent of tokens issued in successful ICOs are trading at or above their original price.

The article cited attorney and consultant Joshua Ashley Klayman as stating that ICOs themselves may disappear, but the market for digital securities won’t. Recently, so-called security token offerings (STOs) have received increased attention from both the private sector and government regulators globally.

In the U.S. context, investors are faced with a patchwork regulatory landscape when it comes to tokens sales. In February, the state of Wyoming passed a blockchain tokenization-related bill, while a similar law was passed in Delaware in September 2017.

This week, Cointelegraph reported that the owner of a startup that ended up canceling its ICO was trying to sell the company on eBay for $60,000. The startup, named “Sponsy,” is described as a blockchain project that is fully prepared to launch both an ICO and an STO.

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Switzerland Moves Forward to Fit Cryptocurrency Into Traditional Regulations

 The Federal Assembly of Switzerland has voted in favor of putting cryptocurrency on equal footing as traditional assets.


A Hesitant Vote

99 members of the National Council, Switzerland’s lower house of the Federal Assembly, have supported a motion to put forward proposed regulations by liberal public representative Giovanni Merlini. 83 people voted against, while 10 refrained from voting at all.

The proposed regulations will now have to be considered by the Council of States, which is the Federal Assembly’s upper house. Switzerland’s Federal Assembly is the country’s legislative authority.

Per the proposed regulations, the existing legislation of both administrative and judicial authorities should be adapted and applied to cryptocurrencies as well.

While making his proposition, Merlini argued that:

Cryptocurrencies could be issued to anyone with a decentralized, cryptographic-based peer-to-peer data network. A large part of the cryptocurrencies is completely anonymous, which favored extortion and money laundering.

It’s worth noting that this narrative has little support given Europol’s assessment from late 2018. Reads Europol’s Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment:

The use of cryptocurrencies by terrorist groups has only involved low-level transactions — their main funding still stems from conventional banking and money remittance services.

Surprising Move?

Merlini’s arguments, as well as the proposed regulations, seem somewhat surprising given the country’s pro-cryptocurrency stance. The country classifies virtual currencies as assets and it has fairly relaxed regulatory burdens and low entry barriers.

In December, the country’s finance minister Ueli Maurer said that instead of coming up with new cryptocurrency-specific regulations, the Federal Assembly will be adapting existing ones to fit the needs of the industry.

Following the motion’s approval, however, Maurer, stated that the proposal has gone further than the scope of the planned regulations.

Former UBS Bankers Raise Funds for Innovative Bank in Zug

Arguments have also been made against the motion, as it had failed to clarify how and if there are measures to be taken to mitigate any risks.

Additional doubts have been raised whether cryptocurrency trading platforms “should be equated with the financial intermediaries and subjected to Switzerland’s Financial market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).

Switzerland’s progress in terms of cryptocurrency adoption, on the other hand, can’t be unnoticed. Earlier this week, Bitcoinist reported that the country’s biggest online retailer started accepting bitcoin for payments on their platform.

What do you think of the latest move by Switzerland to approve regulatory changes proposed by Merlini? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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US Regulators Should Give Bitcoin Some Breathing Space

The voices of a growing number of influential politicians and innovators are more loudly proclaiming the importance of preserving the United States’ supposed lead in the cryptocurrency industry. 


‘The US Cannot Afford to Lose Its Place as the Front-Runner in Crypto’

The importance of maintaining world technological supremacy is gaining momentum. In the United States, defenders of innovation and job creation are pushing for giving Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies some breathing space.

In this regard, Thomas W. Hodge, Senior Associate Attorney at Brock & Scott PLLC and founder of Crypto and Policy, argues that the US has always nurtured the growth of new technologies entering the market. “We foster its growth rather than stifle it with burdensome regulations,” he said, adding:

Today there are many new technologies on the horizon: artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and perhaps most importantly, cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, which will change the way we conduct our lives — from banking to voting […] Simply put, the United States cannot afford to lose its place as the front-runner in crypto.

To this end, Hodge joins the congressman for Minnesota, Tom Emmer, in asking to not stifle free market competition and have government regulatory bodies to provide transparency on their regulatory intentions.

Hodge hopes for renewed leadership in the Congressional Blockchain Caucus and changes at the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). According to Hodge, these developments will encourage cryptocurrency companies “to continue to drive innovations in ‘fintech’ around the world.”

‘The SEC Must Open Its Doors to Innovation’

At the SEC, key officials are moving towards improving the treatment of crypto technologies. For some time, Commissioner Hester Peirce has been proposing to open the SEC to innovation and free enterprise. She complains:

[W]e regulate an industry that is a key gatekeeper for progress and productivity in the rest of the economy.

Specifically, Pierce calls for an innovative and improved regulatory framework that is more adaptable to the cryptocurrency industry.

As the 2020 U.S. presidential election approaches, crypto enthusiasts are eager to spot Bitcoin-friendly candidates and to know how their policies will foster innovation and entrepreneurship.

Already, one candidate has declared he will be accepting campaign donations in cryptocurrencies. Andrew Yang is a presidential candidate and proponent of a universal basic income. He recently announced that he accepts donations in Bitcoin, Ethereum, and any other cryptocurrency complying with the ERC20 standard, as well as Venmo payments.

Do you think the US government should foster the growth of the crypto industry to maintain technological supremacy? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below! 


Images courtesy of  Twitter/@RepTomEmmer, Shutterstock.