Bank of Thailand Bans Banks From Cryptocurrency Activities

Bank of Thailand Bans Banks From Five Cryptocurrency Activities

The Thai central bank has prohibited financial institutions in the country from five key cryptocurrency activities, including banning customers from buying cryptocurrencies with credit cards.

Also read: Japan’s DMM Bitcoin Exchange Opens for Business With 7 Cryptocurrencies

Banks Banned From 5 Crypto Activities

Bank of Thailand Bans Banks From Five Cryptocurrency ActivitiesThe Bank of Thailand (BOT) issued a circular on Monday asking “financial institutions not to get involved in cryptocurrency transactions for fear of possible problems from the unregulated trading,” Reuters translated.

Mr. Wisit Santiprabop, the central bank’s governor, signed the circular which outlines five key cryptocurrency activities banks are banned from:

Investing or trading in cryptocurrency, exchanging cryptocurrencies, creating platforms for cryptocurrency trading, allowing clients to use credit cards to buy cryptocurrencies, and from advising customers on cryptocurrency investing or trading.

Bank of Thailand Bans Banks From Five Cryptocurrency Activities
Circular explaining five crypto activities banks are banned from.

The central bank stated that “cryptocurrencies were not legal tender in Thailand,” the publication conveyed, adding that “it was worried that they may be used in illegal activities such as money laundering or supporting terrorism.”

Recently, the Thai government announced that it will not ban cryptocurrencies and is developing a regulatory framework for them.

Banks Complying

Bank of Thailand Bans Banks From Five Cryptocurrency ActivitiesMs. Prasanee Auiyamaphan, a Bangkok Bank Executive Assistant, was quoted by Voice TV saying that the bank has “no policy to provide [crypto] exchange services,” emphasizing that cryptocurrencies cannot be exchanged for cash at her bank.

Bank of Thailand Bans Banks From Five Cryptocurrency ActivitiesMr. Thana Thienachariya, Senior Executive VP and Chief Marketing Officer at Siam Commercial Bank said that its subsidiary, Digital Ventures Co. Ltd., has previously formed a strategic alliance with Ripple to offer a payment service between Japan and Thailand. He added that his bank will be discussing this issue with the central bank.

Bank of Thailand Bans Banks From Five Cryptocurrency ActivitiesMr. Thakorn Piyapan, Head of Krungsri Consumer Group and an executive of Digital Banking and Innovation at Bank of Ayudhya said, “although the bank will use the transfer service across the country through Ripple,” it is cooperating with the BOT and “does not provide any [cryptocurrency] services at all.”

He explained that there are some areas that banks need to examine before being able to comply. For example, to prevent customers from buying cryptocurrencies using credit cards, he elaborated:

In Thailand, people are buying digital currency. So the bank is asking for time to check the type of transactions that customers [make when they] swipe cards that are associated with digital currency. If applicable, the bank may have to suspend the service.

Recently, banks in the US and well as the UK have also banned their credit card customers from buying cryptocurrencies.

As for cryptocurrency traders, Poramin Insom, managing director of the Thai crypto exchange TDAX, said that “there is no impact on people who are investors of cryptocurrencies,” the news outlet quoted him. However, he explained, “TDAX is affected by this announcement, which makes the process of opening an account with the bank take longer. Bank of Thailand requests more documents.”

What do you think of the Bank of Thailand’s action? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Bangkok Bank, SCB, Krungsri, and Bank of Thailand.


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South Korea Considers Bitlicense-Style System for Cryptocurrency Exchanges

South Korea Considers Bitlicense-Style System for Cryptocurrency Exchanges

The South Korean government is considering introducing an approval system for cryptocurrency exchanges based on the Bitlicense model, developed by the New York State Department of Financial Services.

Also read: Japan Cracks Down on Foreign ICO Agency Operating Without License

Bitlicense Comes to Korea

The South Korean regulators are considering introducing an approval system for cryptocurrency exchanges, Business Korea reported. An official participating in the government’s virtual currency task force, which has been discussing the matter, revealed on Monday:

We are positively considering the adoption of an exchange approval system as the additional regulation on cryptocurrencies. We are most likely to benchmark the model of the State of New York that gives a selective permission.

South Korea Considers Bitlicense-Style System for Cryptocurrency ExchangesThe State of New York allows exchanges to trade cryptocurrencies only when they have obtained a charter or a license, known as Bitlicense, from the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYSDFS). Its restrictive controls and capital requirements have led to only 6 firms being approved so far. Circle Internet Financial, XRP II, Coinbase Inc, and Bitflyer USA have received Bitlicenses, while charters were granted to Gemini Trust Company and Itbit Trust Company.

South Korea Considers Bitlicense-Style System for Cryptocurrency Exchanges“When the country accepts the model from New York, it will be able to bring cryptocurrencies into the institutional system as well as supervise the market in an orderly manner, according to the government,” the news outlet conveyed. While emphasizing that the final decision will likely be made after local elections in June, the publication asserted:

The Ministry of Strategy and Finance is aggressively planning to adopt the exchange approval systems.

At the end of January, the NYDFS requested cryptocurrency trading data from the South Korean regulators after two agencies conducted inspections of 6 major South Korean banks.

No Need for Extreme Measures

The South Korean government began announcing regulatory measures for cryptocurrencies in the middle of December. On December 15, bitcoin was trading at over 20.2 million won (~USD$18,500), according to data from one of the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges by volume, Bithumb.

South Korea Considers Bitlicense-Style System for Cryptocurrency Exchanges

In an effort to curb speculation, the Korean government considered extreme measures including an outright ban of crypto trading and closing down crypto exchanges.

With the price of bitcoin at approximately 9,747,000 won (~$8,967) at the time of this writing, the Korean regulators believe that “there is no need to use a hard-line policy, including a total ban on trading, as the speculation has subdued,” the news outlet noted.

Furthermore, the country’s prime minister confirmed last week at a National Assembly meeting that closing down cryptocurrency exchanges is “not a serious consideration.” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Strategy and Finance Kim Do-yeon also recently proclaimed:

We don’t need to get rid of or suppress digital currencies.

Do you think the Korean government will implement a Bitlicense-style set of regulations? What do you think it will do to the Korean crypto market? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, NYSDFS, and Bithumb.


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Roles of Regulators Decided in India, Rules on Bitcoin Coming Soon

Roles of Regulators Decided in India, Rules on Bitcoin Coming Soon

India will soon have its own rules on bitcoin. The responsibilities of various regulators have been determined, a high-ranking official revealed. Relevant institutions are currently finalizing a comprehensive government policy on cryptocurrencies. Representatives of the Indian crypto community, meanwhile, have quashed fears of an imminent ban.

Also read: No Strong Case to Ban Crypto Trading, Singapore Says

Crypto Policy Being Framed

The roles of various regulators in regards to cryptocurrencies have been decided already, the Chairman of India’s Securities and Exchange Board told reporters on Saturday. Amid continuing volatility on the markets and growing concerns about investors’ protection, Ajay Roles of Regulators Decided in India, Rules on Bitcoin Coming SoonTyagi said the expected regulations should be out soon, the New Indian Express reported. He declined to provide further details, insisting officials would do that after the comprehensive government policy is finalized and announced.

Tyagi’s comments come after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented Budget 2018 this month. While explaining its key policies, Jaitley reiterated a previously stated position: Cryptocurrency is not recognized as legal tender in India and the government “will take all measures to eliminate“ its use in financing illegitimate activities. Indian authorities will instead encourage blockchain technology in payment systems, he said in his budget speech on February 1.

SEBI has asked the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) to call a meeting on regulation matters on the next day, the Board’s chairman revealed. Ajay Tyagi was obviously referring to the panel set up to propose a regulatory framework after examining cryptocurrencies and their implications. “We have actually decided which regulator will do what and the committee should come out with the regulations very quickly”, he added. Tyagi promised his agency “will fully contribute to this” objective and insisted, “We want a policy to be framed first”.

Back in December the Finance Ministry announced it was creating a special panel to follow developments, including the volume of bitcoin related trade, and help speed up the process of adopting crypto regulation. Representatives of DEA, the Reserve Bank of India, and the Income Tax Department were invited to join the committee.

Suspense in India, but no Fear

According to previous media reports, new regulations were expected by the end of March. They are likely to involve anti-money laundering procedures and measures to prevent tax evasion. Suspecting dubious transactions, authorities have targeted cryptocurrency exchanges in the country and banks have suspended some of their accounts. More recently, India’s Income Tax Department announced it had issued notices to 100,000 cryptocurrency investors after monitoring the operations of leading trading platforms.

The Indian crypto community expected more clarity from Budget 2018 in regards to taxation of cryptocurrency incomes, profits and transactions. Mining and trading companies have also asked for clear policy guidelines from the government. Minister Jaitley’s reaffirmed position, however, did not answer many of the outstanding questions. Some see an imminent threat of an outright ban of bitcoin in his vow to “eliminate” cryptocurrencies. Others point out that he actually meant their use for illicit purposes.

Ajeet Khurana, head of India’s Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Committee (BACC) recently said he was happy that cryptos were mentioned in the state budget. “Having the finance minister say that cryptocurrency is not legal tender is perfectly logical. Every nation, barring Japan, has taken this stance. It doesn’t mean crypto trading is illegal, but that it comes with its own risks like any other investment asset in the market”, Khurana explained, quoted by Forbes. “There are multiple dimensions to bitcoin – technology, security, privacy. It is important to be aware of every aspect, to understand bitcoin better and make informed decisions while trading,” Khurana added.

Sandeep Goenka, cofounder of one of the biggest crypto exchanges in India, Zebpay, believes that the current government is open-minded and says this is a welcome change for those developing revolutionary technology. “The ideal way to strengthen the system is by using approved banking channels to onboard new customers and legitimize bitcoin trading”, he stated. Goenka also noted that the major exchanges in country are already implementing such measures and they should be a standard practice.

Roles of Regulators Decided in India, Rules on Bitcoin Coming Soon

In the absence of official statistics, there have been several attempts to gauge the Indian crypto market. Ajeet Khurana says there are at least five million active traders in India that use existing regulated banking channels. One in every 10 bitcoin transactions in the world takes place in India, according to Constantin Papadimitriou, president of Pundi X. The Indonesian company conducted a survey in six countries, which discovered Indians were quite optimistic about the future of cryptocurrencies. The Indian branch of the job site Indeed claimed in a report that as of September last year there were 1.5 million wallet users in India. The number of crypto-related job postings on its platform has increased by 290 percent in just six months.

The Indian crypto sector definitely looks “too big to fail” now. Both the government in Delhi and the Indian crypto community seem to realize that fact. That, surely, is the main takeaway from all this.

How far will authorities in India go with establishing new regulations on Bitcoin? Tell us in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock. 


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The post Roles of Regulators Decided in India, Rules on Bitcoin Coming Soon appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Russia’s Largest Bank Caught Employees Mining For Crypto

Russia’s Largest Bank Caught Employees Mining For Crypto

Russia’s largest bank, the state-controlled Sberbank, has reiterated that it is not mining cryptocurrencies. However, the bank says that it has often caught its employees crypto mining using the bank’s equipment.

Also read: Japan’s DMM Bitcoin Exchange Opens for Business With 7 Cryptocurrencies

Sberbank Claims It’s Not Mining Crypto

Russia’s Largest Bank Caught Employees Mining For CryptoThe state-controlled Sberbank is the largest bank in Russia and the third largest in Europe. The bank is in possession of a large quantity of graphics cards that can be used for cryptocurrency mining. The bank’s senior vice president, Alexander Vedyakhin, apologized publicly in November of last year for causing a shortage of these cards in the Russian market, as news.Bitcoin.com previously reported.

Russia’s Largest Bank Caught Employees Mining For Crypto
Herman Gref.

Since admitting to scooping up most of the graphics cards on the domestic market, Sberbank has maintained that it is not mining cryptocurrencies with them. Instead, Vedyakhin claimed these cards are for the bank’s “laboratory for the development of artificial intelligence,” Tass quoted him.

On Wednesday, Chairman of the bank’s Board, Herman Gref, reiterated at the “Leaders of Russia” forum that Sberbank is not mining cryptocurrencies on a corporate level. However, the publication quoted him proclaiming:

We bought [graphics] cards of a slightly different configuration. Sberbank is not engaged in mining, but we often catch employees who are engaged in mining on the bank’s equipment.

Gref elaborated that he believes the bank is not interested in mining because it is a “primitive business,” adding that “I can tell you a dozen other investment objects with higher yields,” RBC detailed.

Sberbank’s Engagement with Cryptocurrencies

Russia’s Largest Bank Caught Employees Mining For CryptoAt the end of January, Sberbank announced that its subsidiary in Switzerland will start offering cryptocurrency trading. This Swiss part of the plan is to “avoid violating domestic rules,” Reuters explained. Meanwhile, Russian regulators are working on finalizing the legal framework for cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs).

In addition, the bank opened a blockchain laboratory last month for researching the latest technology in this area. “The laboratory will cooperate with start-ups, associations and various communities,” RBC conveyed, adding that the bank will introduce “educational programs in this area.”

Gref also recently stated that he “opposes the ban on cryptocurrency and calls for tolerance and patience in their regulation,” Tass described and quoted him saying:

Before trying to regulate, you do not need to rush, but you do need to maintain a normal background around the technologies of blockchain and cryptocurrency.

Do you think Sberbank is mining cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Sberbank.


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Hong Kong Cracks Down on Securities Tokens – 7 Crypto Exchanges Targeted

Hong Kong Cracks Down on Securities Tokens - 7 Exchanges Targeted

The Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission has sent letters to seven cryptocurrency exchanges regarding their listings of securities tokens without a license. Most of the exchanges took immediate rectification measures, including removing problematic cryptocurrencies from their platforms.

Also read: Japan’s DMM Bitcoin Exchange Opens for Business With 7 Cryptocurrencies

Hong Kong Takes Action

Hong Kong Cracks Down on Securities Tokens - 7 Crypto Exchanges TargetedThe Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) announced on Friday that it “has taken regulatory action against a number of cryptocurrency exchanges and issuers of ICOs.”

The agency sent letters to seven cryptocurrency exchanges in Hong Kong or in connection with Hong Kong, warning “them that they should not trade cryptocurrencies which are ‘securities’ as defined in the Securities and Futures Ordinance (SFO) without a licence.”

This regulatory action follows the FSC’s warning last September that digital tokens may be considered securities as defined by the SFO, “and subject to the securities laws of Hong Kong.”

The Commission revealed that after receiving its letters:

Most of these cryptocurrency exchanges either confirmed that they did not provide trading services for such cryptocurrencies or took immediate rectification measures, including removing relevant cryptocurrencies from their platforms.

Hong Kong Cracks Down on Securities Tokens - 7 Crypto Exchanges TargetedIn addition, the FSC stated that it has also written to seven initial coin offering (ICO) issuers. “Most of them confirmed compliance with the SFC’s regulatory regime or immediately ceased to offer tokens to Hong Kong investors,” the agency confirmed, adding that it will “continue to closely monitor ICOs, and will not tolerate any violations of the securities laws of Hong Kong.”

Furthermore, the Commission said it “may take further action where appropriate,” against any crypto exchanges which disregard the SFO provisions as well as repeat offenders.

Warnings and Complaints

The SFC has warned investors of the risks associated with cryptocurrency and ICO investing several times. Following a warning in September, the agency issued a circular in December cautioning investors of the risks associated with bitcoin futures contracts and other crypto investments.

Hong Kong Cracks Down on Securities Tokens - 7 Crypto Exchanges TargetedIn Friday’s announcement, the Commission noted that it has received complaints from investors about not being able to withdraw fiat currencies or cryptocurrencies from their accounts at crypto exchanges. “Some complainants claimed that cryptocurrency exchanges had misappropriated their assets or manipulated the market, or that technical breakdowns of the exchanges’ platforms caused them significant losses,” the agency detailed. “Several complaints against ICO issuers alleged unlicensed or fraudulent activities.”

The CEO of the FSC, Ashley Alder, commented:

We will continue to police the market and enforce when necessary…But we are also urging market professionals to do proper gatekeeping to prevent fraud or dubious fundraising and to assist us in ensuring compliance with the law.

Earlier this week, the Chinese authorities decided to ban foreign cryptocurrency exchanges. “Unlike the mainland, Hong Kong allows unregulated trading of digital tokens as long as the products changing hands are not in a format that would fall under the SFC’s jurisdiction,” South China Morning Post describes.

The FSC’s action also coincides with the Hong Kong-based crypto exchange Binance suspending trading on Thursday. The company denied that it has been hacked and its CEO subsequently tweeted explaining that the downtime is due to a “server issue on our replica database cluster, causing some data to be out of sync.”

What do you think of the Hong Kong SFC’s action? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and the Hong Kong SFC.


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Korean Prime Minister: Closing Down Crypto Exchanges ‘Not a Serious Consideration’

South Korean Prime Minister: Closing Down Crypto Exchanges 'Not A Serious Consideration'

The South Korean prime minister has emphasized that closing down cryptocurrency exchanges is not a serious consideration. His statement clears up any remaining confusion in the market regarding whether the Korean regulators are still considering this option.

Also read: Japan’s DMM Bitcoin Exchange Opens for Business With 7 Cryptocurrencies

Closing Down Exchanges Not Serious Consideration

South Korean Prime Minister: Closing Down Crypto Exchanges 'Not A Serious Consideration'
Lee Nak-yeon.

South Korea’s prime minister, Lee Nak-yeon, responded to questions from opposition parties on Tuesday regarding the government’s policies on cryptocurrencies at the National Assembly meeting, local media report.

“There has been a harsh criticism of the government for the confusion between the ministries around the virtual currency regulation direction,” Dailian reported. During the session, Lee was quoted by the Kyunghyang Shinmun saying:

The closing of [cryptocurrency] exchanges is not a serious consideration now. It is one of the many possibilities.

Besides legal considerations, Lee explained that closing down crypto exchanges “will take a lot of discussion, debate, and time,” adding that “I am thinking about how it will affect the market,” Edaily quoted him.

South Korean Prime Minister: Closing Down Crypto Exchanges 'Not A Serious Consideration'
The South Korean National Assembly. Ⓒ Daily Korean reporter.

Criticisms of Ministry of Justice’s Action

During the meeting, representative Chae Yi-bae of the People’s Party told the prime minister that since the minister of justice, Park Sang-ki, announced the closure of cryptocurrency exchanges, the position of each ministry has led to market turmoil, Dailian conveyed.

Parliament member Ha Tae-keung elaborated:

I understand the goodwill of the government regarding virtual currency, but the policy is too amateur…The government, which has to heal the pain of the people, has intensified the suffering.

South Korean Prime Minister: Closing Down Crypto Exchanges 'Not A Serious Consideration'
Park Sang-ki.

The remarks by Chae and Ha are in response to a statement made by the justice minister at a press conference on January 11, when he said, “We are preparing a bill to ban virtual currency exchanges…We also aim to close exchanges.”

The news immediately went viral, sinking the prices of cryptocurrencies before other Korean regulators could clarify that the announcement was solely the opinion of the justice minister. Park recently apologized for his action. “I apologize for the confusion,” he proclaimed regarding his statement of “closing virtual currency exchanges,” Maekyung reported.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Strategy and Finance, Kim Dong-yeon, has recently clarified in a recent radio interview, as reported by Edaily, that “In the near future, a consistent and comprehensive position of the government will emerge in an appropriate and desirable form.”

What do you think of how the South Korean government handle crypto regulations? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Dailian, and Yonhap.


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