New Indian Governmental Committee Favors Legalizing Cryptocurrencies, Media Reports

A governmental committee in India has reportedly suggested that cryptocurrencies be legalized in the country, English-language local media TheNewIndianExpress (TNIE) reported on Dec. 26.

According to the article, an unnamed senior official who reportedly attended the panel’s meetings on cryptocurrencies stated:

“There is a general consensus that cryptocurrency cannot be dismissed as completely illegal. It needs to be legalized with strong riders.”

Previous Indian government panel meetings had reportedly suggested a complete ban on cryptocurrencies in the country earlier in December, stating that “any kind of dealing in such currencies should be treated as ‘illegal.’”

India’s government reportedly set up this most recent second inter-ministerial committee, which is led by Subhash Chandra Garg, the Department of Economic Affairs secretary, after the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) ban on banks dealing with crypto businesses and persons in April of this year.

While a previous committee had recommended a total crypto ban in March 2017, the new committee, TNIE writes, was set up to deal with the conflicting opinions on the RBI ban.

According to the TNIE, the committee has already had two meetings, and the next one is expected to take place in January.

This committee includes members of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, RBI, Securities and Exchange Board of India and the revenue secretary.

The official also noted that the members of the committee “have also taken inputs from cryptocurrency exchanges and experts,” concluding by stating that they will work on the legal aspects with India’s law ministry.

As Cointelegraph reported at the beginning of the current month, G20 countries have called for the taxation of cryptocurrencies and regulation preventing their use for money laundering, according to a document stipulated during a Buenos Aires summit.

Some of the members of the second Indian governmental committee, such as the RBI executive director Ganesh Kumar and Ministry of Finance officials, participated in those G20 meetings. Because of this, according to the article, “they are expected to include insights they gained from the global deliberations in their report.”

In October, news broke that the developers of India’s first Bitcoin (BTC) “ATM” were arrested on criminal charges. According to local mainstream media, the two — who are also founders of India’s first crypto exchange Unocoin — were booked for criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery.

A press statement from India’s Central Crime Branch noted that since the ATM had not been approved by the government, it should not have been called an ATM. Prashant Mali, a cyber lawyer, explained that if “kiosk” had been written instead of “ATM,” the installation would have fallen into a grey area of the law.

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Indian Internet ‘Blockchain Committee’ Attracts Reps From Zebpay, MasterCard, Microsoft

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) is forming a dedicated focus group for blockchain exploration made up of both big business and cryptocurrency players, Indian daily newspaper Economic Times reported Monday, Oct. 15.

Confirmed in a tweet Tuesday, the IAMAI, whose remit is to “expand and enhance” the online and mobile sector, will use its “Blockchain Committee” to “identify opportunities and challenges and work with government, industry and startups” to develop a blockchain “ecosystem.”

The move comes amid testing times for cryptocurrency in India, with the country’s supreme court still deliberating on the legality of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) cryptocurrency banking ban it instigated in July.

Commenting on the plans, Tina Singh, chair of the newly-founded Blockchain Committee, said the technology was nonetheless “undoubtedly the technology of the future,” noting:

“The IAMAI Blockchain Committee will focus on creating dialogue between all stakeholders; curate and create content to aid skill development and move towards creating a participative economy with the usage of blockchain.”

Participants in the committee include major Indian cryptocurrency exchange ZebPay, itself a conspicuous victim of the central bank’s ban, having halted its exchange offering altogether late last month.

Other parties include representatives from MasterCard, Microsoft and IBM.

The RBI itself is also “researching” blockchain, sources reported in August, as part of an assessment process in which it would “check what can be adopted and what cannot.”

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The Daily: Coinbase Forms Political Action Committee, EY Acquires Crypto Patents

The Daily

In The Daily on Saturday, crypto exchange Coinbase has formed a political action committee to raise funds for US elections. Also, Ernst & Young has announced the acquisition of crypto technology and patents, and Indonesian crypto POS terminal maker Pundi X is looking to expand in South Korea with a new partnership.

Also read: Minsk Mulls Rules for Exchanges, Qiwi Awards Employees with Tokens

Coinbase to Raise Money for Elections

The Daily: Coinbase Forms Political Action Committee, EY Acquires Crypto PatentsCalifornia-based crypto exchange Coinbase has formed a political action committee in order to raise money that can be spent on US elections, Reuters reported quoting the company. The filing was announced on Friday, July 20. According to the report, the political action committee has not raised any funds yet.

Coinbase is an important player in the crypto sector. A couple of months ago, the exchange said it would revamp its trading technology to create and offer a new suite of services to attract more institutional investors, including hedge funds and high-frequency trading firms. Its new institutional offering, Coinbase Custody, is already open for business. The company also launched its Coinbase Pro platform.

In May, it was revealed that Coinbase’s representatives had met with US regulators to talk about the possibility to apply for a banking license. The trading platform reportedly contacted officials from the US Office of the Comptroller of Currency earlier this year to discuss the matter. Reports that Coinbase had been approved to list securities were later corrected by the company.

Coinbase’s decisions and moves often influence crypto markets, as was the case with the recent announcement that the exchange is considering adding five new cryptocurrencies – ADA, BAT, XLM, ZEC, and ZRX. The news quickly raised the prices of these coins by up to 20 percent.

Leading Exchanges List New Coins

The Daily: Coinbase Forms Political Action Committee, EY Acquires Crypto PatentsSpeaking of new listings, Chinese-run Okex, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges, has added the cardano (ADA) cryptocurrency to its platform with trading starting on July 23. The company announced the addition on Twitter, this past Friday. It has also added a new token, hycon (HYC), whose spot trading is scheduled to begin on the 24th. According to Coinmarketcap, cardano is currently 8th among the tracked cryptos, with a market capitalization of over $4.2 billion USD.

Another leading exchange, Singapore-headquartered Huobi, announced this week it is adding digibyte (DGB) to its trading options. The coin has been offered since Friday, in pairs with bitcoin (BTC) and ethereum (ETH). Withdrawals will be available on Sunday, July 22. After the announcement, the price of DGB surged by about 17 percent. At the time of writing, digibyte ranks 32nd, according to Coinmarketcap, with a market capitalization of over $460 million.

Ernst & Young Acquires Crypto Technology

The Daily: Coinbase Forms Political Action Committee, EY Acquires Crypto PatentsWhile major players from the crypto space are looking to diversify elsewhere, established financial companies have been exploring possibilities in the fintech sector. Ernst & Young, one of the major global accounting firms, announced this month the acquisition of technology assets and related patents from Elevated Consciousness. The San Francisco-based startup specializes in developing solutions for the crypto-asset ecosystem like the Andy Crypto-Asset Accounting and Tax tool (CAAT) which connects with multiple crypto exchanges and wallets, allowing for better visibility into transactions and inventory.

The acquisition is part of EY’s strategy to expand blockchain-related capabilities and services worldwide, according to a press release published by PRNewswire. “Cryptocurrencies and blockchain are transformational forces with a strong potential to fundamentally change the way business is done,” said Kate Barton, EY Global Vice Chair – Tax Services. “CAAT positions us as a leader in serving a variety of companies adopting crypto-assets in an evolving regulatory environment,” she added, quoted in the corporate announcement.

Pundi X with New Partnership in South Korea

Following news that it’s working to build a network of 5,500 POS terminals for crypto payments in Hong Kong, it’s been reported that Pundi X is now eyeing the South Korean market. The Indonesian company revealed in a statement that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the local smart card manufacturer Ubivelox. The partnership aims to support the deployment of Pundi X devices in South Korea.

The Daily: Coinbase Forms Political Action Committee, EY Acquires Crypto PatentsThe Pundi XPOS terminals offer payments in multiple cryptocurrencies and support transactions through other wallets like Alipay and Wechat Pay. These devices accept also payment cards as well as Pundi X’s own XPASS card. The latter allows users to buy, sell and trade different cryptos and make online purchases. The two companies plan to distribute the XPASS cards and develop together a mobile crypto payment system.

The latest announcement is part of Pundi X’s planned expansion in the region. The company intends to introduce up to 100,000 of its crypto POS terminals in Southeast Asia by 2021. The Indonesian firm also claims that a number of businesses from Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Switzerland have already ordered a total of 25,000 of its terminals.

What are your thoughts on today’s news tidbits? Tell us in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Pundi X.

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