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Coinbase Files to Close Its Political Action Committee

U.S. crypto exchange Coibnase has filed to close down its political action committee.

Major United States-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has filed to close its political action committee (PAC) on April 3.

According to a filing with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) — the regulatory agency in charge of enforcing election laws — Coinbase’s PAC received no funds nor made any disbursements, and is seeking to terminate the PAC.

Per FEC regulations, a PAC must file a termination report in order to cease operations once it no longer intends to make or receive contributions or expenditures.  

In the U.S., PACs are independent organizations, often representing different business, labor, or policy interests, that collect and donate money to political campaigns for or against candidates, legislation, or ballot initiatives.

Following the 2010 Supreme Court case of Citizens United v. FEC, PACs became the subject of some controversy and criticism, as some see them as means for corporate or union donors to put their thumbs on the electoral scale. PACs are forbidden from coordinating directly with the campaigns they support, but in some cases, coordination has occurred.

Coinbase formed its PAC in July of last year, and in September, it became a founding member of the Blockchain Association. The Blockchain Association is purportedly the first lobby group in Washington D.C. to exclusively represent the interests of the blockchain industry. Other members of the lobby group include technology startup Protocol Labs, as well as the Digital Currency Group and Polychain Capital.

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Social Media Platform Mithril Becomes Purported First to Migrate to Binance Chain

Mithril has adopted the Binance Chain, the mainnet of the leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance.

Decentralized social media platform Mithril (MITH) has adopted the Binance Chain, the mainnet of the leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance. The development was announced by Mithril in a blog post published on April 18.

With the step, Mithril — a social media platform that rewards content creators with its native token MITH —  becomes the purported first to shift to the Binanche Chain, with MITH token migrating from ERC-20 to BEP2. At Mithril, users gain MITH through Mithril mining, while managing their assets on the company’s platform VAULT.

Binance users will be able to withdraw MITH to BEP2 wallets following the completion of the initial migration of ERC-20-based MITH to BEP2. The development will purportedly not have an impact on ERC-20 versions of MITH held in private ethereum (ETH) wallets.

Binance launched Binance Chain yesterday, April 18, and expects to execute the swap of its native token Binance Coin (BNB) on April 23. The exchange initially revealed its plans to launch its own blockchain in December 2018, intending to build a basis for issuing new cryptocurrencies and initial coin offering (ICO) tokens.

Along with the launch of Binance Chain, the exchange provided details for the conversion of ERC-20 BNB tokens into native Binance Chain-based BNB (BEP2) coins. As such, Binance emphasized it will not support the withdrawal of ERC-20 BNB tokens after April 23.

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Official Chinese Currency Renminbi to Become Cryptocurrency, Expert Says

Donald Tapscott, executive chairman of the Blockchain Research Institute, has said that Chinese renminbi will become a crypto.

Donald Tapscott, executive chairman of the Blockchain Research Institute,  stated that the official Chinese currency, the renminbi (RMB), will become a cryptocurrency, in an interview with Bloomberg on April 17.

In the interview, Tapscott revealed that he had recently been at a meeting with the vice-chairman of the Communist Party in China, who recalled that President Xi Jinping thinks that blockchain is one of the most important technologies for the future of the country.

Speaking about the government’s ban on cryptocurrency exchanges, Tapscott outlined that China is considering to ban cryptocurrency mining as well, and added:

“It’s not really necessary to do that [to ban exchanges and mining] because in 20 years we are not going to be using bitcoin in China. Chinese people will use the RMB, only the RMB will become a cryptocurrency. The central bank of China will turn it into a digital currency.”

When asked if decentralized exchanges can operate in China —  which has previously banned initial coin offerings (ICOs) — Tapscott said that they could, although the government has a serious stance towards curtailing digital currencies.

Tapscott suggested that decentralized exchanges will eventually dominate centralized ones thanks to their purported ability to transparency and identify “bad behavior.” All assets, including traditional ones like securities, will purportedly be on decentralized exchanges, said Tapscott.

Chinese authorities have long been discussing possible ban of cryptocurrency mining. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has reportedly included crypto mining as part of its draft for a revised list of industrial activities the agency intends to shut down because they “lacked safe production conditions, seriously wasted resources, polluted the environment,” among other issues.

However the country remains a major player in the bitcoin market, with most of the largest bitcoin mining pools controlled by local organizations. By mid-2018, crypto mining operator Bitmain reportedly operated as many as 11 mining farms in China, and hence would be largely affected by the NDRC’s reported plans.

As for blockchain, China is reportedly leading the world in the number of blockchain projects currently underway in the country. There are 263 blockchain-related projects in China, accounting for 25% of the global total.

Last month, a multi-year project called the “Implementation Plan for the Promotion of Transportation Infrastructure Development” was unveiled in Jiangsu Province. Per the plan, blockchain will be one of the technologies local authorities use in overhauling local transport infrastructure.

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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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Largest Travel Management Firm in UK Accepts Bitcoin

A major travel management firm in the United Kingdom has partnered with BitPay, which will allow it to accept bitcoins as payment.

Corporate Traveller, the largest travel management firm in the United Kingdom, is now accepting Bitcoin (BTC) for payments, according to a press release on April 15.

A newly announced partnership with crypto payments company BitPay will allow Corporate Traveller — which provides business travel management services to SME companies — to accept bitcoins. Andy Hegley, U.K. General Manager at Corporate Traveller said:

“We identified an increasing demand from our clients for the option to pay in bitcoin for business travel bookings made by our travel consultants. We chose BitPay to manage our merchant processing because they make it easy and handle the entire process of getting the Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash from the customer and depositing cash into our account.”

According to the press release, Corporate Traveller is unconcerned with price volatility in crypto markets, as the bitcoins will be converted directly into British pounds. BitPay purportedly charges a 1% commission to convert the funds, which Corporate Traveller says is cheaper than credit card processing.

Other firms and organizations in the tourism and travel industries have begun accepting cryptocurrencies, citing customer demand. In March 2018, the German National Tourist Board announced that it takes bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies as payment for its services.

In August of the same year, the state government of the Australian province of Queensland issued a grant to the TravelbyBit digital currency payments platform, which aimed to boost tourism in Central Queensland through selling travel offers with cryptocurrencies.

BitPay, for its part, recently reported that it saw over $1 billion in transactions last year. According to a January press release, the firm set a new record in terms of transaction fee revenue, having expanded its services to major customers like Dish Networks, HackerOne, and the State of Ohio.

On Jan. 30, BitPay partnered with the Wikimedia Foundation — the non-profit organization that runs Wikipedia — so that it could broaden the number of cryptocurrencies that are acceptable by donation.