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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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Russian State Duma Defers Consideration of Bill On Digital Financial Assets

The State Duma of the Russian Federation has rescheduled consideration of the bill “On Digital Financial Assets” for April 2019.

The State Duma of the Russian Federation has deferred consideration of the bill “On Digital Financial Assets” to April 2019,  local media outlet TASS reported on March 20.

The second reading of the draft federal law “On Digital Financial Assets” has reportedly been rescheduled for April, following a decision made at the morning voting on the agenda of the plenary session. The initiative was taken by the Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Financial Market, Anatoly Aksakov, although he did not explain his motives.

The bill “On Digital Financial Assets” aims to formulate national cryptocurrency legislation, and was adopted by Russia’s parliament in the second reading earlier in March. Vyacheslav Volodin, the Chairman of the State Duma and coauthor of the draft bill, stressed then that the adopted amendments are aimed at fixing the difficulties related to the concept of digital rights.

The wording of the bill prepared for the second reading excludes the definition of a token, cryptocurrency, and smart contract. The document provides the definition of digital financial assets, saying that such assets are represented by digital rights, including liabilities and other rights, monetary claims, and the possibility of exercising rights in regards to equity securities and rights to require the transfer of equity securities.

As reported last December, Pavel Krasheninnikov, the head of the council and chairman of the State Duma committee on state building and also a coauthor of the bill, said that the bill had been pushed back to the first reading stage as it needed to be dramatically changed.

Recently, Russia’s parliament voted to enact new digital rights legislation in October of this year. The law reportedly establishes the concept of “digital rights” in Russian legislation with the addition of a new article, 141.1, of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, and determines how digital rights can be exercised and transferred, as well establishes rules for digital transactions, including contracts.

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UK Parliament Presented Showcase of Real-World Blockchain Applications

The U.K. Parliament has been presented demonstrations of real-world blockchain applications designed to educate policymakers.

Organized by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Blockchain (APPG Blockchain), the Monday event featured live presentations from four firms working in the blockchain industry: IOTA, Oracle, Everledger and Lloyd’s of London. Among the audience were members of parliament, government officials and industry leaders, according to a statement from organizers.

The live demonstrations highlighted the potential of blockchain in real-life applications in supply chains for olive oil and diamonds (Oracle and Everledger, respectively), international trade (IOTA) and insurance claims and transactions settlement (Lloyd’s).

Fernando Santiago, blockchain research and project manager at Big Innovation Centre, suggested the event could mark an important step for the U.K.’s blockchain industry, saying:

“This is a pivotal moment for UK, which could define our future leadership in governance, commerce and competition.”

In the run-up to the event, the group also published the Online Blockchain Showcase, featuring videos of 10 companies working in the space.

The 10 firms also took to the floor at the live showcase, undertaking a “One-Minute Challenge” proposing how government could drive the use of blockchain, including in the healthcare and education sectors, as well as finance and industry.

According to its organizers, the event was inspired by the positive results of a 2018 analysis of the U.K. blockchain industry, presented by APPG Blockchain on its website along with associated organizations.

APPG Blockchain was set up by cross-party members of parliament to help ensure that the U.K. plays a “key role” in the potential opportunities that blockchain can provide for the nation’s economy, society, governance and provision of public services, according to its parliamentary web page.

U.K. Parliament image via Shutterstock; event images via APPG Blockchain

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Report: Number of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Lobbies Tripled in 2018

Lobbying on blockchain and crypto has reportedly grown on K Street, having tripled over the past year.

The number of lobbies working on blockchain technology issues in Washington D.C. tripled in 2018, politics-oriented news outlet Politico reported on March 18.

The number of entities lobbying on digital currencies and blockchain reportedly grew almost thrice in the course of the past year, reaching 33 projects in the fourth quarter of 2018 compared to 12 in the same period of 2017.

Jerry Brito — executive director at the non-profit organization Coin Center that works with Reps. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) and Darren Soto (D-Fla.), both known for their cryptocurrency-friendly attitude — reportedly suggested that the growth is driven by securities regulation.

In January, Soto stated that most cryptocurrencies should not be regulated under the country’s securities regulator. According to Soto, crypto should be overseen by the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission and Federal Trade Commission — rather than classed as securities under the Securities and Exchange Commission’s charge.

Blockchain companies purportedly face more difficulties when it comes to the technology’s deployment outside digital currencies. According to lobbyist Dina Ellis Rochkind, blockchain firms are still in the early stages of winning allies in Congress. Izzy Klein from Ripple-backed Klein/Johnson Group, which lobbies for the Securing America’s Internet of Value Coalition, said:

“I think that when you have a new technology and new platforms in older and heavily regulated spaces, you need as many legitimate voices and boots on the ground that you can get.”

Last year, major industry leaders such crypto exchange Coinbase, technology startup Protocol Labs, as well as the Digital Currency Group and Polychain Capital, formed the “first” lobbying group representing the blockchain industry in Washington D.C. The Blockchain Association will purportedly represent entrepreneurs and investors who are engaged in blockchain-based projects.

Recently, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the current Republican Minority Leader in the United States House of Representatives, said that blockchain can make the Congress a more efficient and transparent place. McCarthy stated:

“Blockchain is changing and revolutionizing the security of the financial industry. Why would we wait around and why wouldn’t we institute blockchain on our own, to be able to check the technology but also the transparency of our own legislative process?”

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Fairfax County Pension Funds Invested $21 Million in Blockchain Technology

An official from Fairfax County Retirement Systems has clarified the terms of recent investments by county pensions in blockchain venture capital fund Morgan Creek.

Fairfax county of the United States state of Virginia, has invested $21 million in Morgan Creek Blockchain Opportunities Fund, according to an official note published on Feb. 13.

Jeff Weiler, Executive Director at Fairfax County Retirement Systems, clarified the terms of recent investments in Morgan Creek Digital that reportedly amounted to $40 million.

The statement’s aim was to qualm pensioner concern over the recent investment, as some were worried that their pensions could be lost due to volatility in cryptocurrency markets.

In this context, Weiler explained that the county has invested money in the underlying technology of crypto, claiming that at least 85 percent of the Morgan Creek Blockchain Opportunities Fund is invested in blockchain technology firms instead of cryptocurrencies themselves.

As such, Weiler stressed that no more than 15 percent of the funds will be invested in actual cryptocurrencies, stating that “to-date, the Fund has no exposure to any cryptocurrencies.“ He listed a number of blockchain technology applications apart from cryptocurrencies including digital identity systems, digital document settlement, voting identity verification, medical data storage and processing, and others.

In the official note, Weiler wrote that the recent blockchain investment was committed by Fairfax County’s Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) and the Police Officers Retirement System (PORS). The ERS invested $10 million, which represents 0.3 percent of the ERS’s total assets, while the PORS committed $11 million, which constitutes 0.8 percent of its total assets.

Home to the Central Intelligence Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Fairfax county is the second-wealthiest county in the U.S. with a median household income of over $112,000 annually.

Weiler also clarified that Morgan Creek Blockchain Opportunities Fund is one of a number of investment funds run by Morgan Creek Asset Management that has a total of $1.4 billion in assets under management.

As revealed by Morgan Creek Digital’s CEO Anthony Pompliano, the original funding round of Morgan Creek was capped at $25 million, but was expanded upward due to investor interest.