Indians Look to Buy Bitcoin Overseas as Regulations Tighten

Indians Look to Buy Bitcoin Overseas As Regulations Tighten

As cryptocurrency regulations start to pile up in India, a new trend is emerging for Indians to acquire cryptocurrencies from abroad, such as from relatives or friends with overseas accounts.

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

Increased Regulations

Indians Look to Buy Bitcoin Overseas As Regulations TightenThe Indian government has recently intensified its efforts to strengthen the country’s regulations on cryptocurrencies, promising that a regulatory framework for them will be announced soon. Earlier this month, the Indian tax authority issued notices to 100,000 crypto traders asking them to pay taxes.

The Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Committee (BACC), an industry group whose members include 7 cryptocurrency exchanges, is considering several initiatives, such as creating a database of crypto users and transactions, to comply with the government’s mandates. The Times of India elaborated:

With Indian exchanges like Unocoin, Zebpay, Coinsecure, keen on increasing regulation and scrutiny into transactions, bitcoin aficionados say buying from US exchanges is a more popular alternative for purchases.

Indians Look to Buy Bitcoin Overseas As Regulations TightenAs regulations tighten in India, bitcoin “enthusiasts are now tapping into their own NRI [non-resident Indian] network of friends and family members,” the news outlet added.

L R Dinesh is a bitcoiner who buys expensive items using bitcoin on overseas online sites. He told the publication, “For the online tech community, there are some who receive bitcoins as payment for gadget and video game reviews. But for regular purchases, one has to get a relative or friend with an overseas account to send over bitcoins.”

Better Privacy

Indians Look to Buy Bitcoin Overseas As Regulations TightenDana L Coe, the CEO of bitcoin hardware wallet Bitlox, believes that one of the main attractions of bitcoin is privacy, the news outlet conveyed.

He explained, “If you are purchasing a particular medicine and someone collects the data and sells it to a pharmaceutical company — these companies can use sets of such demographic information to increase prices.” Furthermore, he noted, “Differential pricing, blanket invasion of privacy cannot happen if one uses anonymous and private payments,” adding:

People would want to shield their payments from the government, corporates or even their own families. With big data and consumer tracking websites, the need for privacy is heightened.

Better Security

Indians Look to Buy Bitcoin Overseas As Regulations TightenThe advanced security on purchases made with bitcoin is another major incentive for Indians, the publication added. “The requirement of Aadhaar is a dampener,” Dinesh asserted, referring to the 12-digit unique identity number issued to all Indian residents based on their biometric and demographic data. “The community of techies, bloggers and geeks are quite antipathic to the continuous stem of leaks and insecurities reported with Aadhaar,” he emphasized, noting that “To try and unite bitcoins with compliance is going to keep real bitcoin miners away from Indian exchanges.”

Damodharan Sampathkumar of Renovite Technologies was quoted:

In India, RBI has mandated two-factor authentication for all online transactions. But outside of India, only single-factor authentication is required. So when it comes to using one’s credit or debit card to buy products on overseas sites one also runs the risk of compromising sensitive financial data and hacks. So using bitcoins would add one layer of security.

What do you think of Indians buying bitcoin overseas? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Salon Offers Visitors In-House Cryptocurrency Mining When Blocking Ads

Salon Offers Visitors Cryptocurrency Mining to Block Ads

Mainstream web magazine Salon has started allowing its readers an ad-free site, if readers start mining cryptocurrency for them, after sustaining a decline in income due to ad blocking technology.

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

Salon’s Mining Initiatives

Salon Offers Visitors Cryptocurrency Mining to Block AdsSalon, a left-leaning political and lifestyle webzine started in 1995, has launched a cryptocurrency mining option for its visitors in an effort to recuperate some of its declining income. The site is run by Salon Media Group, a publicly-traded company with offices in San Francisco and New York City.

“Like most media companies, Salon pays its bills through advertising,” the site explained, adding that the increase in visitors using ad blockers has “cut deeply into our revenue.” Acknowledging technological developments, Salon wrote “your computer itself can help support our ability to pay our editors and journalists,” noting:

For our beta program, we’ll start by applying your processing power to mine cryptocurrencies to recoup lost ad revenue when you use an ad blocker.

Salon also made the disclaimer that “mining uses more of your resources which means your computer works a bit harder and uses more electricity than if you were just passively browsing the site with ads.”

Let the Ads Display or We Will Mine Crypto

The mining option is now shown to all Salon website visitors using an ad blocker. Anyone arriving on any page of the site will immediately see the message, “We noticed you’re using an ad blocker. We depend on ads to keep our content free for you. Please consider disabling your ad blocker so we can continue to create the content you come here to enjoy.” They are subsequently presented with two options: to disable their ad blocker and allowing ads to be displayed or to keep blocking ads but allow Salon to use their spare computing power.

Salon Forces Visitors to Mine Cryptocurrency if They Block Ads

Salon Forces Visitors to Mine Cryptocurrency if They Block AdsFor its beta program, Salon is mining monero, which is more profitable to mine than bitcoin on common PC processors. The cryptocurrency also has a widely used application for websites like Salon to easily deploy, called Coinhive. The program allows websites to mine monero with their visitors’ CPUs, with or without their knowledge. While often described as malware, Coinhive is nonetheless used by several well-known websites including the Pirate Bay.

Salon informs their users upfront that its mining functionality is “Powered by Coinhive,” and displays a link to let visitors read more about the process. The webzine also says that “Nothing is ever installed on your computer and Salon never has access to your personal information or files.”

How Much Processing Power Is Used

To opt-in, users are asked specifically if they would like to allow mining for the duration of the current site visit. Once the “allow for this session” link has been clicked, the users’ processors will immediately start working intensively.

In our informal testing using a modern 4-core Intel processor, all 4 cores’ usage was instantly maxed out within a couple of seconds after clicking the allow button.

Salon Forces Visitors to Mine Cryptocurrency if They Block Ads

As soon as the Salon page was closed, the processors returned to normal. Without clearing cookies, the site will remember users’ opt-in preferences for up to 24 hours, Salon noted, adding that they will be asked to opt-in again after that. Furthermore, Salon clarified:

We automatically detect your current processing usage and assign a portion of what you are not using to this process. Should you begin a process that requires more of your computer’s resources, we automatically reduce the amount we are using for calculations.

What do you think about Salon’s plan to force their users to choose between ads and mining crypto? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Number of Cryptocurrency Hedge Funds Rises to 226 Globally

Number of Cryptocurrency Hedge Funds Rises to 226 Globally

The number of global cryptocurrency hedge funds has reached a record high of 226, according to research firm Autonomous Next. The hedge funds tracked by leading hedge fund database provider Eurekahedge show a return of 1,477.85 percent in 2017 on average.

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

226 Crypto Hedge Funds

Number of Cryptocurrency Hedge Funds Rises to 226 GloballyAccording to Autonomous Next, the London-based fintech practice of Autonomous Research, the number of hedge funds focused on trading cryptocurrencies more than doubled in the past four months. Reuters reported:

The number of crypto hedge funds more than doubled in the four months to Feb. 15…The research firm recorded a record high of 226 global hedge funds with such a strategy, up from 110 global hedge funds as of Oct. 18.

On August 29, the number of crypto hedge funds was only 55, and it was only 37 at the start of 2017. Furthermore, the firm revealed that assets under management of the funds are currently between $3.5 and $5 billion.

Autonomous Next partner Lex Sokolin commented:

While the softer prices of crypto assets do create a more difficult environment for investors, I do not think it will pause the influx of funds and other financial institutions building products in the space…It would take the extreme case of the entire space contracting by 80 percent and high regulation before the flow of funds turns around.

Crypto Funds Gained 1,478% in 2017

Number of Cryptocurrency Hedge Funds Rises to 226 GloballyAccording to an independent hedge fund data provider, Eurekahedge, cryptocurrency-focused funds lost an average of 4.6 percent in January. “Some invest in just bitcoin, taking both long and short positions, some buy a basket of cryptocurrencies and others exploit the arbitrage between different exchanges’ prices,” Reuters further noted.

Number of Cryptocurrency Hedge Funds Rises to 226 GloballyEurekahedge is tracking nine hedge funds with collective assets of $1 billion. They “made an average of 1,477.85 percent in 2017,” the news outlet conveyed.

The founder of high growth blockchain fintech firm Bitspread, Cedric Jeanson, commented that “some of the hedge funds charge high fees – an average of 1.6 percent for management and 17.5 percent for performance for funds tracked by Eurekahedge – even though they are using largely passive strategies,” the publication added.

Referring to crypto funds in general, Diana Gibson, a managing director at investment consultant Cambridge Associates, pointed out:

Gains in 2017 were largely generated from being long.

In December of last year, Pantera Capital’s bitcoin fund reportedly returned 25,004% for investors since its launch in 2013. The gain was due to the skyrocketing price of bitcoin which peaked at $19,666 on December 17, according to data from Bitstamp.

Number of Cryptocurrency Hedge Funds Rises to 226 Globally
BTC chart.

What do you think of all these hedge funds investing in cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments section below.


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SEC Suspends Trading of Three Companies With Ties to Cryptocurrency

SEC Suspends Trading of Three Companies With Ties to Cryptocurrency

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has suspended trading in the stocks of three companies with ties to cryptocurrency. One of the three is also planning an initial coin offering. The SEC says it is concerned about the nature of the companies’ business operations and the value of their assets.

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

SEC Suspends Trading of Three Stocks

The SEC has “suspended trading in three companies amid questions surrounding similar statements they made about the acquisition of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology-related assets,” the agency announced on Thursday. They are Cherubim Interests, PDX Partners, and Victura Construction Group. The three stocks are traded over-the-counter, with a market capitalization of less than $5 million each, according to Factset. The suspension is temporary, beginning on February 16 and ending on March 2.

SEC Suspends Trading of Three Companies With Ties to CryptocurrencyThe agency stated that the three companies issued press releases claiming that they have “acquired AAA-rated assets from a subsidiary of a private equity investor in cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, among other things.” However, the SEC says there are questions regarding the nature of the companies’ business operations and the value of their assets.

In addition, Cherubim Interests also announced that it will launch an initial coin offering (ICO). The trading suspension of this company’s shares is also due to its delinquency in filing annual and quarterly reports with the Commission.

Acquisitions and ICO

The three companies’ press releases list the same chief executive officer, Patrick J. Johnson, “who played for the Oregon Ducks and the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL,” wrote the Oregonian.

SEC Suspends Trading of Three Companies With Ties to CryptocurrencyJohnson told the publication that PDX Partners makes iPhone apps, adding that last month the company “acquired $350 million in assets belonging to a private equity firm called NVC Fund Holding Trust, whose portfolio includes ‘cryptocurrency and business financial services’.”

Cherubim Interests and Victura Construction Group have also made similar acquisitions. Furthermore, the former announced on January 3 that it has “executed a financing commitment of $100,000,000 to launch [an] initial coin offering for The Self Sustaining Intentional Communities Coin (Symbol SJT),” adding that “The sale of the coins will generate the capital to create self-sustaining intentional communities across the US and across 57 nations.”

Regulators’ Warnings

In August of last year, the SEC issued an Investor Alert about public companies making ICO-related claims. “The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy is warning investors about potential scams involving stock of companies claiming to be related to, or asserting they are engaging in, Initial Coin Offerings (or ICOs),” the agency wrote, adding that “Fraudsters often try to use the lure of new and emerging technologies to convince potential victims to invest their money in scams.”

The SEC’s action against the three companies come at the same time another US regulator, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), issued a warning about dump-and-pump schemes involving “thinly traded or new ‘alternative’ virtual currencies, digital coins or tokens.”

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


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Five Siberian Power Plants Attracting Crypto Miners With Surplus Electricity

Five Siberian Power Plants Attracting Crypto Miners With Surplus Electricity

Cryptocurrency miners will soon be able to benefit from surplus electricity and the cold climate at five power plants located in Siberia. Russian energy company En+, which owns those power plants, is already in talks with investors to build crypto mining farms near them.

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

Five Power Plant Sites

Five Siberian Power Plants Attracting Cryptocurrency Miners With Surplus ElectricityRussian energy company En+ Group is actively preparing to offer electricity to cryptocurrency miners at some of its power plants, Vedomosti reported on Wednesday.

En+ CEO Maxim Sokov was quoted saying, “We are talking about five sites.” They are in the Irkutsk Oblast, a federal subject of Russia, located in southeastern Siberia. Two sites are near the town of Ust-Ilimskin, one is near the city of Bratsk, and the other two are near the city of Irkutsk.

Five Siberian Power Plants Attracting Cryptocurrency Miners With Surplus Electricity
En+ CEO Maxim Sokov.

Near Ust-Ilimsk, on the Angara River, En+ has a hydropower power plant (HPP) with a capacity of 3,840 MW and a coal-fired combined heat and power plant (CHP) with a capacity of 525 MW.

Near Bratsk, “En + has a hydroelectric power plant with a capacity of 4,500 MW,” the publication noted.

Near Irkutsk, which is also the administrative center of Irkutsk Oblast, “there are two sites: a hydroelectric power plant with a capacity of 662 MW and a [coal-fired] combined heat and power plant with a capacity of 655 MW,” the news outlet detailed.

En+ said the cold climate of the region around the three areas and the availability of cheap electricity make the condition attractive for cryptocurrency mining.

Attracting Crypto Miners

Sokov revealed that En+ is currently negotiating with several investors, “including international ones – Chinese and American,” for “the construction of mining farms that will act as consumers of electricity,” Ria Novosti described, adding:

En+ will offer miners to build farms to produce cryptocurrencies next to En+ power plants in Irkutsk, Bratsk, and Ust-Ilimsk.

Five Siberian Power Plants Attracting Cryptocurrency Miners With Surplus ElectricityThe CEO emphasized that his company will benefit from attracting miners from China, where strict prohibitive regulation is now in force.

According to Vedomosti, the total demand for power supplies from cryptocurrency miners could reach 100 MW for En+ Group in 2018, and the group could earn about 980 million rubles (~USD$17.2 million). Natalia Porokhova, Head of Research and Forecasting Group at ACRA estimates that each “100 MW can bring En+ from 10 to 15 million dollars,” the news outlet added.

While Russian aluminum producer Rusal, which En+ has a controlling stake in, is currently the main user of the company’s hydropower, En+ believes that it could use up excess capacity and diversify its customer base by offering electricity supplies to crypto miners.

Cryptocurrency mining is currently unregulated in Russia. However, the regulators are drafting a bill for its regulation. Earlier this month, the Bank of Russia said that it will allow crypto mining in the country but proposes that miners sell their coins overseas.

Do you think crypto miners will move to Siberia to set up mining farms? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Korean Government Answers Petition Against Unfair Cryptocurrency Regulations

Korean Government Answers Petition Against Unfair Cryptocurrency Regulations

The South Korean government has officially responded to the popular petition, with over 20,000 signers, against unfair cryptocurrency regulations. The regulators defended their crypto measures and outlined additional regulatory plans.

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

Popular Petition Answered

South Korea has answered the petition entitled “Has the government ever dreamed a happy dream for the people?” Filed on December 28, the one-month petition asks the government to avoid excessive regulations for cryptocurrencies in the country and “not make unfair regulations on virtual currency investment.”

According to the rules set by the Blue House, the government will respond to any petition with over 200,000 signatures within a month. On January 16, the above petition surpassed that threshold, as news.Bitcoin.com previously reported. By January 27, a total of 228,295 people had signed and the government subsequently responded to it on Wednesday.

Korean Government Answers Petition Against Unfair Cryptocurrency Regulations
“Has the government ever dreamed a happy dream for the people?” petition which ended on January 27.

Hong Nam-ki, Minister of the Office for Government Policy Coordination (OPC) said in his response:

It is the basic policy of the government to prevent illegal acts and uncertainties in the process of virtual currency transactions, and actively nurture blockchain technology…Transparency of virtual currency transactions within the framework of the current law is a top priority…We have been attentive and careful, keeping an open eye on market conditions, international trends, and all means”

Government Still Divided on Regulations

Korean Government Answers Petition Against Unfair Cryptocurrency Regulations
Hong Nam-ki.

The Korean government started announcing regulatory measures for cryptocurrencies in the middle of December. Since then, the regulators have considered a wide range of measures to curb speculation of the crypto market. They implemented the real-name system on January 30, ending anonymous crypto trading via virtual accounts.

The most extreme measures have been proposed by the Korean Ministry of Justice, including an outright ban on cryptocurrency trading and closing down crypto exchanges. However, other financial regulators in the country did not support these proposals. Last week, the Korean prime minister stated that closing down crypto exchanges is not a serious consideration.

Hong was quoted by Reuters on Wednesday:

The government is still divided with many opinions ranging from an outright ban on cryptocurrency trading to bringing the institutions that handle the currency into the system.

In addition, he explained that the regulators will “develop ways to tax virtual currencies, led by the finance ministry, and should announce measures within the first half of the year to develop the blockchain industry.”

What do you think of the South Korean Government’s response to the petition? Let us know in the comments section below.


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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.


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Dubai Issues License to Cryptocurrency Firm

Dubai Issues License to Cryptocurrency Firm

The largest free economic zone in the UAE, with zero percent personal and corporate income tax, has started issuing licenses to firms trading cryptocurrencies. The first license has been issued to a gold trader that has recently started offering cryptocurrency services.

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

Attracting Crypto Businesses

UAE’s Largest Free Economic Zone Issues License to Cryptocurrency FirmThe Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) is a government entity established in 2002 to enhance commodity trade flows through Dubai. DMCC Free Zone is the largest and fastest growing free economic zone in the UAE.

“We perform a range of roles which continue to position Dubai as the preferred destination for global commodities trade and DMCC as the world’s No.1 Free Zone,” offering zero percent personal and corporate income tax, the center’s website states. Today, more than 14,100 multinational corporations and startups call DMCC home, with almost 90,000 people living and working there.

UAE’s Largest Free Economic Zone Issues License to Cryptocurrency FirmThe Centre has started issuing licenses to allow firms trading in cryptocurrencies to operate from its free zone, Thomson Reuters Zawya reported on Monday.

DMCC’s executive director for commodities, Sanjeev Dutta, told the publication that the Centre is “beginning to facilitate” a market in cryptocurrencies which, he acknowledged, is unregulated. Citing that firms looking to set up in the zone would be considered on a “case-by-case” basis, he elaborated:

To me, what is important is the fact that you are still evaluating it as part of your innovation strategy. You are not saying ‘no’ to something. You are not saying ‘yes’ either, but you are exploring, so you are clearly ahead of the others when the time to make a decision comes.

Cryptocurrencies as Commodities

DMCC is a member of the Global Blockchain Council, which began as a Dubai Smart City project and has 46 member organizations globally today. The Centre’s director of innovation hub, Franco Bosoni, said that a global consensus is emerging which favors classifying cryptocurrencies as commodities, the news outlet detailed and quoted him explaining:

DMCC’s view is that these [cryptocurrencies] meet the test of a commodity. They’re priced based on supply and demand, produced and sold globally at a uniform quality and (are) indistinguishable between products.

Wai Lum Kwok, head of capital markets for Abu Dhabi Global Markets Regulatory Authority, told the publication on Sunday that the regulator is “reviewing and considering the development of a robust, risk-appropriate regulatory framework” for crypto exchanges and intermediaries. Emphasizing that no timeframe has been set, he added:

As we develop our framework, we will also want to check in and have the conversations with, for example, US regulators, Japanese regulators and so on and so forth, so that there is some alignment of approach to avoid any regulatory arbitrage.

First License Issued

UAE’s Largest Free Economic Zone Issues License to Cryptocurrency FirmThe first license for the Free Zone reportedly went to Regal Assets, a gold trader and storage provider with offices in the US, Canada, and the UAE. The company added cryptocurrencies to its product line at the end of last year, offering brokerage services and an insured, high-security cold storage service for bitcoin, ether, bitcoin cash, ethereum classic, ripple, and dash.

According to Bloomberg, “Dubai gold trader Regal RA DMCC is the first company in the Middle East to get a license to trade cryptocurrencies.” The news outlet quoted DMCC acknowledging in a statement, “The company will offer storage of bitcoin, ethereum and other cryptocurrencies in a vault located in DMCC headquarters in Almas Tower in Dubai.”

DMCC Executive Chairman Ahmed Bin Sulayem was quoted by the publication, “At the heart of DMCC’s long-term strategic growth plan is the use of technology and innovation to disrupt and connect new markets, industries and customers,” adding that “the announcement today embodies this approach.”

Do you think more crypto companies will move to this free economic zone? Let us know in the comments section below.


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