Terrorism

(No Significant News to Report)

  • Website Compiles List of KYC-Free Exchanges, Along With Some Warnings (Cointelegraph)
  • Tezos and Algorand Latest to Integrate Tech for Anti-Money Laundering Compliance (Coindesk)
  • Human Rights Foundation Funds Bitcoin Privacy Tools Despite ‘Coin Mixing’ Legal Stigma(Coindesk)
 
  • Congress Weighs Digital Dollars for Aid After Stalled COVID-19 Stimulus Payments (Cointelegraph)
  • Pentagon Documents Reveal The U.S. Has Planned For A Bitcoin Rebellion (Forbes)
  • Russia’s Economy Ministry Calls for ‘Controllable Market’ Rather Than Crypto Ban (Coindesk)
  • 4,000 Chinese Bank Accounts Reportedly Frozen Due to Crypto Connections (Cointelegraph)
Iran

(No Significant News to Report)

  • Venezuelan Petro Payments May Be on the Rise (Cointelegraph)
  • US Offers $5M Bounty for Arrest of Venezuela’s Crypto Chief (Coindesk)

Human Rights Foundation Funds Bitcoin Privacy Tools Despite ‘Coin Mixing’ Legal Stigma

By: Leigh Cuen ,Coindesk, June 11th, 2020

On one hand, the bitcoin industry has matured to include traditional brokerages and institutional traders. On the other, bitcoin privacy tech is still shrouded in a legal gray zone.

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) took a strong stance on bitcoin privacy tech Wednesday by announcing its new Bitcoin Developer Fund. The first $50,000 grant from the fund has been awarded to freelance CoinSwap developer Chris Belcher.

CoinSwap, a mixing technique originally invented in 2013 by Greg Maxwell, is part of a comprehensive suite of privacy tools being developed by bitcoin advocates.

“The fund’s next gift, already earmarked for another developer working on strengthening Bitcoin pseudonymity at the network level, will be announced later this summer,” Alex Gladstein, the HRF’s chief strategy officer, said in an email.

HRF will also crowdsource fundraising for such privacy tech, he added, using both dollars and bitcoin, while making it “possible for activists to more safely receive donations, earn income and continue their important work under increased financial pressure.”

Belcher said he hopes to have a primitive testnet available near the end of the year.

“It will be a bit like Lightning, where there’s never a single day when it’s finished, but it slowly gets more and better features and bug fixes until one day you realize it’s everywhere,” Belcher said of CoinSwap, which he plans to keep as an open source hobby project and not a revenue-producing company.

Domestic

Congress Weighs Digital Dollars for Aid After Stalled COVID-19 Stimulus Payments

By: Kollen Post, Cointelegraph, June 11th, 2020

In the aftermath of disappointingly slow COVID-19 stimulus payments, Congress hears testimony on using digital dollars to upgrade the U.S.’s legacy financial infrastructure.

On June 11, the Congressional Fintech Task Force held a hearing examining FedAccounts and a digital dollar as ways of expanding financial inclusion in the United States.

Particularly in the aftermath of greatly delayed $1200 stimulus payments directly to U.S. citizens, the digital dollar has gotten much more attention. A number of bills appeared in the wake of the CARES Act calling for FedAccounts and digital dollars as means of streamlining aid distribution.

Upgrading financial tools as a public good
Morgan Ricks, a law professor at Vanderbilt University who recently spoke with Cointelegraph about the digital dollar, said in today’s hearing “The system of money and payments is a public good. It is critical public infrastructure, akin to highways.”

Co-founder of the Digital Dollar Project and former CFTC Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo similarly compared the current system to bridges of the last century now in disrepair: “Unless we act, this coming wave of innovation will put enormous strain on our aged financial system.”

Pentagon Documents Reveal The U.S. Has Planned For A Bitcoin Rebellion (Forbes)

By: Billy Bambrough, Forbes, June 10th, 2020

Bitcoin has struggled to find support in the U.S. government, with president Donald Trump, along with Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, leading the criticism.

Now, it’s been revealed the U.S. Department of Defense has wargamed scenarios involving a Generation Z rebellion that uses bitcoin to undermine and evade “the establishment.”

In the Pentagon war game, young people born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s use cyber attacks to steal money and convert it to bitcoin, documents published by investigative news site The Intercept revealed.

Called the 2018 Joint Land, Air and Sea Strategic Special Program (JLASS), the war game is set in 2025 and is “intended to reflect a plausible depiction of major trends and influences in the world regions.”

Russia

Russia’s Economy Ministry Calls for ‘Controllable Market’ Rather Than Crypto Ban

By: Anna Baydakova, Coindesk, June 10th, 2020

In a letter to the country’s parliament, the nation’s Ministry of Economic Development criticized a package of draft bills recently introduced by lawmakers. If passed, Russia would at last have its first regulatory regime for crypto and digital assets – but would also effectively ban any businesses facilitating crypto transactions.

According to the Russian newspaper Kommersant, which obtained the letter, the ministry points out that people will still be able to buy crypto assets elsewhere, but the current version of the bills would not allow the government to protect their rights. Crypto-oriented businesses would also be driven outside of the country, harming the economy.

Instead, the new rules should take a different approach and work on creating a “controllable cryptocurrency market” in Russia, the ministry argues, according to the report.

The regulatory landscape around cryptocurrency has been quickly shifting across the world in the last year, with authorities and regulators paying closer attention to the industry, and the industry looking for ways to comply (or occasionally not). Yet, while Russia is a significant crypto market and the motherland of many blockchain developers, it has opted for an ultra-conservative approach, led by the country’s central bank.

The more conciliatory stance on cryptocurrency from a government ministry, however, might be a sign Russia could yet tone down its hostile approach, which recently led to a loud outcry from the local crypto industry.

 AML, KYC & Regulation

Website Compiles List of KYC-Free Exchanges, Along With Some Warnings 

By: Samuel Haig, Cointelegraph, June 13th, 2020

The website Kycnot.me has compiled a list of cryptocurrency exchanges that do not require identity verification to preserve the independence of crypto.

A new website seeking to compile an active list of every cryptocurrency exchange that welcomes traders in some capacity without forcing them to hand over personal information through know-your-customer, or KYC, verification.

Kycnot.me is only concerned with exchanges that support Bitcoin (BTC) or Monero (XMR), asserting that BTC is the largest crypto asset with the most adoption and XMR offers the strongest privacy protections.

Website tracks KYC-free crypto exchanges

The website currently lists 14 KYC-free trading platforms, many of which offer a peer-to-peer marketplace for crypto assets. 

However, the site has listed warnings concerning more than half of the exchanges mentioned — including noting tight restrictions on verification-free use, withdrawal quirks, and requests for certain identity information despite the absence of KYC requirements.

Surprisingly, the list does not include the popular exchanges BinanceKuCoin, or BitMEX.

Tezos and Algorand Latest to Integrate Tech for Anti-Money Laundering Compliance

By: Paddy Baker, Coindesk, June 12th, 2020

Two blockchain platforms, both proof-of-stake, are trying to stay on the right side of the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) “Travel Rule.”

In separate announcements on Thursday, the Algorand and Tezos Foundations said they had linked up with two analytics companies, Chainalysis and Coinfirm, respectively, to help bake regulatory compliance into their eponymous blockchains.

It’s been very nearly a year since the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global anti-money laundering (AML) watchdog, updated its guidance for nations to stipulate that crypto companies must store and disclose information about senders and receivers, above a certain transaction threshold.

In Algorand’s case, Chainalysis will provide a know-your-transaction (KYT) solution, allowing its foundation to monitor large volumes of on-chain activity for the native ALGO token and report any suspicious transactions to the authorities.

While Algorand emphasizes that the new integration will enhance trust and security, the specter of regulation is never too far away. As it says in a press release, the new integration will enable the foundation to “fulfill their regulatory obligations to report suspicious activity.”

In a statement, Fangfang Chen, the Algorand Foundation’s chief operating officer, said the integration would allow it to meet regulatory requirements in Singapore. “We needed a compliance partner that could not only help us adhere to regulations in Singapore where we are based but also global regulatory best practices,” she said.

Over the past 12 months, some national regulators have transposed FATF’s “Travel Rule” into local law. The U.S’ Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), one of the first regulators to implement the Travel Rule back in May 2019, has continued with a minimum threshold of $3,000.

Singapore announced in January that parties involved in crypto transactions worth more than 1,500 Singapore dollars (around US$1,100) would have to be ready to disclose identities.

Human Rights Foundation Funds Bitcoin Privacy Tools Despite ‘Coin Mixing’ Legal Stigma

By: Leigh Cuen ,Coindesk, June 11th, 2020

On one hand, the bitcoin industry has matured to include traditional brokerages and institutional traders. On the other, bitcoin privacy tech is still shrouded in a legal gray zone.

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) took a strong stance on bitcoin privacy tech Wednesday by announcing its new Bitcoin Developer Fund. The first $50,000 grant from the fund has been awarded to freelance CoinSwap developer Chris Belcher.

CoinSwap, a mixing technique originally invented in 2013 by Greg Maxwell, is part of a comprehensive suite of privacy tools being developed by bitcoin advocates.

“The fund’s next gift, already earmarked for another developer working on strengthening Bitcoin pseudonymity at the network level, will be announced later this summer,” Alex Gladstein, the HRF’s chief strategy officer, said in an email.

HRF will also crowdsource fundraising for such privacy tech, he added, using both dollars and bitcoin, while making it “possible for activists to more safely receive donations, earn income and continue their important work under increased financial pressure.”

Belcher said he hopes to have a primitive testnet available near the end of the year.

“It will be a bit like Lightning, where there’s never a single day when it’s finished, but it slowly gets more and better features and bug fixes until one day you realize it’s everywhere,” Belcher said of CoinSwap, which he plans to keep as an open source hobby project and not a revenue-producing company.

China

4,000 Chinese Bank Accounts Reportedly Frozen Due to Crypto Connections

By: Adrian Zmudzinski, Cointelegraph, June 10th, 2020

Around 4,000 Chinese bank accounts of cryptocurrency traders have reportedly been frozen by local law enforcement.

According to a report Monday by 8BTC, police froze the bank accounts of thousands of over-the-counter traders from the Chinese province of Guangdong.

This purportedly comes as part of a wider investigation into illegal activities such as gambling and money laundering, which 8BTC states have been commonly facilitated by crypto OTC trading with the stablecoin Tether (USDT).

Per the report, authorities started freezing the bank accounts on Thursday. One retail investor reportedly found his bank account frozen after buying cryptocurrency on a major, credible crypto exchange.

Frozen accounts are not guaranteed to be involved in illicit activities and can supposedly be restored after an analysis of their activities reveals no wrongdoing.

Local law enforcement is purportedly learning blockchain analysis skills in order to track on-chain crypto-asset transactions.

Venezuela

Venezuelan Petro Payments May Be on the Rise

By: Felipe Erazo, Cointelegraph, June 12th, 2020

The government of Nicolas Maduro claims that 15% of fuel payments at petrol stations were made using the state-backed Petro token.

The Venezuelan government announced on June 11 that almost 15% of all fuel payments at petrol stations across the country were made using the Petro (PTR). This rise comes during the first week of the new state-backed plan to promote widespread use of the token.

According to a report from Ultimas Noticias, 40% of the PTR transactions passed through the foreign stations.

Balancing Venezuela’s crypto environment?
The blog Geopolítica Coyuntural says that Petro adoption will strengthen the balance and the homologation of value between the primary and secondary market, “allowing to build an economical and stable structure for the crypto environment in the country.”

Citizens used biometric tech solutions to process payments in the oil-backed token through the gas stations across Venezuela.

US Offers $5M Bounty for Arrest of Venezuela’s Crypto Chief

By: Paddy Baker, Coindesk, June 12th, 2020

The head of Venezuela’s cryptocurrency initiative, the petro, is wanted by the U.S government on charges of corruption and links to the narcotics trade.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) added Joselit Ramirez Camacho to its Most Wanted List on Monday, accusing him of a number of violations related to international commerce and his alleged involvement in the international drug trafficking scene.

Ramirez Camacho is a public official and serves as the superintendent for Venezuela’s petro initiative, a cryptocurrency supposedly backed by the country’s oil and mineral reserves.

The superintendent is wanted by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arm for violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Kingpin Act, and for breaking a series of sanctions imposed by the Treasury Department.

ICE is offering up to $5 million for any information that leads to his arrest and conviction.

Ramirez Camacho is “accused of having deep political, social and economic ties to multiple alleged narcotics kingpins, including Tareck EI Aissami,” a former vice president of Venezuela who is also wanted by ICE on charges of money laundering and an alleged role in international narcotics trafficking.

If arrested, Ramirez Camacho will be sent to the U.S. and tried in the Southern District of New York.

Geoffrey Berman, district attorney, of New York, accused him last month of being part of a corrupt group of high-ranking Venezuelan officials – including President Nicolas Maduro – running a “narco-terrorism partnership” intent on flooding “the United States with cocaine in order to undermine the health and wellbeing of our nation.”

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