Bitfinex restarts fiat deposits via ‘improved’ system

Embattled cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex has reinstated fiat deposits, claiming its new system is much “improved” following significant user problems at the exchange in recent times.

The development follows on from the firm’s decision to suspend fiat deposits last week, which the exchange attributed to unspecified “processing complications.” At the time, the decision caused some panic amongst Bitfinex users, fearful the exchange could be the next to unexpectedly hit the rocks.

While Tuesday’s announcement will be comfort to those affected, including the more vocal complaints on social media, it remains to be seen whether Bitfinex has done enough to calm the nerves of their customers.

According to the crypto exchange, the new depositing process will be limited to customers who have been through the Know-Your-Customer (KYC) process, offering deposits across several international fiat currencies: USD, GBP, EUR and JPY, respectively.

Customers can deposit fiat currency to their account by firstly initiating a deposit request, which is then reviewed before being executed by Bitfinex on a case by case basis.

In a blog post introducing the new measures, Bitfinex described its depositing system as more “resilient,” with almost conspiratorial suggestions of an organised campaign against their business over the issue.

“We believe this system to be significantly more durable in the face of sustained attacks by our competition and their supporters. Ongoing campaigns against us will only result in our company becoming stronger and better,” according to the crypto exchange.

Under the new system, deposits will be processed in 6-10 days, and must be of a minimum amount of $10,000. Bitfinex will manually approve accounts, and the service is only available to verified, KYC-compliant users. In all cases, a fee of 0.1000% applies to each deposit.

Thanking their customers for their patience, Bitfinex praised their “continued understanding throughout the entirety of this situation.”

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Debit card ATM network in the US now selling crypto

Hundreds of thousands of US residents just got access to cryptocurrencies, right at their fingertips. According to an press release by cryptocurrency company LibertyX, the firm has entered into a partnership with Genmega, a fiat ATM supplier in the US, to facilitate crypto purchases using debit cards directly through the ATMs. It’s the first time in the US that such an initiative has been undertaken.

Genmega currently has around 100,000 ATMs spread out across the country. With a simple software upgrade, the machines can now be configured with an option that allows a user to purchase Bitcoin Core (BTC) directly from the ATM and have the currency sent immediately to the user’s cryptocurrency wallet.

The move will be an important advance for cryptocurrency adoption, giving easy access to digital currency to both veterans and new enthusiasts. It will also help provide an additional revenue stream for the ATM operators. According to Wes Dunn, Genmega’s Senior VP, “ATM operators are always looking for ways to grow volume and transactions. We are excited to work with LibertyX on this new initiative that will drive additional foot-traffic to merchant locations and provide added revenue to our operators ‒ ensuring they stay ahead of the market and bring added value to consumers.”

Virtually everyone knows how to operate an ATM. The LibertyX cryptocurrency interface will make BTC purchases as simple as making a cash withdrawal. Chris Yim, LibertyX co-founder and CEO, said that this was the goal all along. He explained, “We have been working tirelessly to make it easier to buy cryptocurrencies for the last five years and now are bringing simplicity, convenience and trust to the cryptocurrency purchasing experience through the timeless ATM.”

The inclusion of cryptocurrencies in traditional cash ATMs is a huge step forward for the cryptocurrency space. Not only does it show that crypto is gaining in popularity, but it indicates the ease with which businesses can begin to interact with digital currency. Following on the success of the crypto integration into ATMs, the next logical step would be to have more point-of-sale systems and retail money outlets embrace the future, as well.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Marks Jewelers now accepts Bitcoin BCH, other cryptocurrencies

One of the most enduring jewelry retailers and designers in the US has decided to embrace cryptocurrencies. Pennsylvania-based Marks Jewelers announced in a press release yesterday that it has partnered with Shopping Cart Elite, an eCommerce payment platform, to give customers the ability to pay for their fine jewelry purchases with a variety of digital currencies.

Marks now accepts Bitcoin BCH, Bitcoin Core (BTC), Bitcoin Diamond (BCD), Bitcoin Gold (BTG), Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), ZCoin (XZC) and Dash (DASH). It is the first time a major US-based retailer with a large physical presence has embraced cryptocurrency and shows how crypto is continuing to expand to fulfill its intended purpose – to be used as currency.

According to Marks Jewelers Director of Marketing Joshua Rubin, “We’re very excited to begin accepting cryptocurrency payments from our customers around the world. This will allow us to make our fine jewelry available to the global market while paying lower fees and avoiding chargebacks. Marks has long been known for our meticulous craftsmanship and curated selection, and we are thrilled to open our store to the world.”

Opening up its payment capabilities to crypto gives Marks’ customers access to its large portfolio of fine jewelry “with lightning-fast transactions that take just minutes to process.” Since cryptocurrency transaction fees are substantially lower than those associated with bank transfers and credit cards, “Marks Jewelers is able to pass on even more savings to customers buying their next dazzling piece of jewelry,” according to the announcement.

Marks has been around for over 35 years. The company doesn’t just provide resale options for jewelry; it designs jewelry, as well. The company has five gemologists that graduated from the Gemological Institute of America on its payroll to ensure that the quality of diamonds and gemstones is a cut above the rest. It is partnered with Forevermark, a company under the DeBeers umbrella of jewelers.

Shopping Cart Elite is an eCommerce platform that gives companies the ability to automate their businesses. It is gaining traction as a crypto payment facilitator and is capable of being integrated into any eCommerce platform, including those that are listed on large retail sites such as Amazon, NewEgg, Etsy and Walmart, among others.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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19 crypto exchanges secure provisional license in Philippines’ economic zone

The number of companies that have been granted provisional licenses by the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), which operates the Philippine government-owned Cagayan Special Economic Zone (CSEZ), has jumped to 19.

Last week, CEZA published a list of firms that have been issued with Financial Technology Solutions and Offshore Virtual Currency (Ftsovc) licenses and the Offshore Virtual Currency (OVC) licenses. The list also contains names of companies who have paid the applicator fees and are still being reviewed.

According to the publication, a total of 19 companies have been awarded the provisional license. Of that number, 17 were issued with provisional principal licenses while two were given provisional regular licenses. Companies holding the provisional principal license can “conduct offshore financial technology solutions business activities and offshore virtual currency exchange activities,” while those with provisional regular license can only offer offshore virtual currency exchange services.

The 17 companies with the Ftsovc provisional principal licenses include Tiger Wheel, Golden Millennial Quickpay, Hong Kong Yuen Shing Hong, Ultra-Precise Investment, Digifin Technologies, Liannet Technology, Rare Earth Asia Technologies Corp., Formosa Financial Holdings, Cr8tiv Solutions Management, Sino-Phil Economic Zone Agency Development, Tanzer Holdings, Asia Premiere International, Ipe Global, Orient Express Global, White Ranch Limited, Dragon Empire Developments, and Galaxy Plus Developments.

The two companies’ awarded with the Ovc licenses were Unicorn Venture Investment Ltd and Cezex Trading Pte. Ltd.

Companies awarded with the principal license for Ftsovc had to pay $360,000 while those awarded with the regular licenses had to pay $85,000, CEZA previously stated. The awarded licenses will be valid for the next six months. Companies that require permanent licenses will have to prove to the authority that they are in compliance with Philippine laws.

While speaking to reporters in July, CEZA Board Secretary Catherine Joy Alameda explained that the licensees must have authorized capital stock of $500,000 with paid-in capital of $200,000. In addition to this, the companies should invest at least $1 million in a period of two years in the country. They should also set up a back office in the Philippines.

In addition to the 19 companies, CEZA publication also included seight companies that are still under review. From the eight, six are being reviewed for provisional principal licenses while two are being reviewed for provisional regular licenses.

In July, CEZA granted provisional licenses to three cryptocurrency exchanges. The authority has been taking measures to create a legal framework in which crypto related business can operate.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Gibraltar licenses first crypto exchange—Coinfloor

UK’s first cryptocurrency exchange, Coinfloor, adds another feather to its cap—it’s become the first crypto exchange to be licensed by Gibraltar’s groundbreaking blockchain legislation.

According to a report in the Financial Times, Coinfloor will be regulated as a distributed ledger technology (DLT) provider under the new license. Coinfloor CEO Obi Nwosu was quoted by the news outlet saying Coinfloor had to undergo various processes before it secured the Gibraltar license.

According to Nwosu, the crypto company was tested on nine principles aimed at determining whether the exchange has sufficient anti-money laundering (AML), and Know Your Customer (KYC) protections in place. Nwosu said Coinfloor had to prove that their security system could stand any kind of cyber attacks that have plagued the cryptocurrency exchange industry over the years.

Nwosu also stated that the licensing process under Gibraltar’s new legislation impressed him, telling FT: “What impressed us was that this [legislation] was in the works for a long time. It’s been well thought out, well considered. They are focusing on quality over quantity.”

Gibraltar has been a haven for many virtual casinos because it offers low taxes for business based in the region. Recently, the British Overseas Territory introduced new rules specifically applying to the blockchain, which it hopes, will increase the success of blockchain-based companies in the region. This legislation was the first of its kind in Europe.

With this and more changes, Gibraltar seems to be creating a crypto-friendly environment like that of Malta. However, since UK is set to leave the EU next spring, there are many uncertainties and the move might affect Gibraltar’s dream of becoming a crypto and blockchain hub.

The new license comes as good news to Coinfloor, which recently laid off around 40 employees as part of the company’s restructuring process. The exchange, which was founded in 2013, made the decision at a time when there were increased difficulties for businesses in the cryptocurrency space following the bear market conditions.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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3 more ICOs shut down by North Dakota securities watchdog

A North Dakota security watchdog is keeping tight reins on initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the U.S. state. Last Thursday, the commissioner of the North Dakota Securities Department (NDSD), Karen Tyler, issued a cease and desist order against three firms that were discovered to be involved in promoting fraudulent securities and illegal business practices related to ICOs in the state. The North Dakota financial regulator carried out an investigation, Operation Cryptosweep, to identify ICOs and cryptocurrency-related investments that pose a risk to North Dakota investors.

The investigation revealed that the companies involved—Crystal Token, Advertiza Holdings (Pty) Ltd., and Life Cross Coin aka LifecrosscoinGmbH—were selling securities without obtaining a license. Also, the companies were accused of using fraudulent statements on their websites whereby they all claimed to give high returns without any proof of how they would achieve them. Crystal Token was not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and so the firm could not offer securities in the state, according to the NDSD. Equally, Advertiza claimed to offer securities which promised high returns through its virtual currency called “Tizacoin” (TIZA), while Cross Coin was found to have used a Berlin IP address that was already linked to ransomware and trojans. Generally, the investigation found out that the firms could be harmful to investors, according to the state regulator.

This was not the first time the department took action against ICOs in the state. Last month, the NDSD issued cease-and-desist orders against three other companies: BitConnect, Magma Foundation and the Pension Rewards Platform. Tyler said about the orders, “The continued exploitation of the cryptocurrency ecosystem by financial criminals is a significant threat to Main Street investors.”

The commissioner noted, “In formulaic fashion, financial criminals are cashing in on the hype and excitement around blockchain, crypto assets, and ICOs – investors should be exceedingly cautious when considering a related investment.”

Regulators are putting up more frameworks to protect investors. The SEC has announced that it will sue crypto companies offering pump-and-dump schemes, as well as ICO projects who have false SEC approvals.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Crypto-mining church in Russia fined for excessive energy use

A Protestant church from the city of Irkutsk in Russia has been court-ordered to pay a fine of 1.1 million rubles ($16,600) after it was discovered to have been consuming large amounts of electricity for its cryptocurrency mining operations.

According to Russian news outlet RT, local utility company Irkutskenergo reported a sudden spike in the electricity consumption of the ‘Grace’ evangelical community in May 2017, reaching 2 million kWh through August. Church trustees told the utility provider that the energy was used for heating as well as to power the printing machine to copy religious materials. Inspectors from Irkutskenergo visited the building rented out to the church, and in it, they discovered a server room on the second floor, which they determined was being used to mine cryptocurrencies.

This resulted in the utility company to charge the church the same rates applicable to corporations and industrial enterprises due to ‘Grace’s’ “excessive power consumption.”

The organization, however, took the matter to court, asking for a refund of the surcharge totalling 1.1 million rubles. However, the Irkutsk Arbitration Court turned down the church’s request and instead, ordered ‘Grace’ to pay up.

In its ruling, the court noted that the energy spike happened during the summer season, and also compared the energy used ‘Grace’ with data from larger temples and printing houses in Russia. Ultimately, the judge ruled that the amount the church paid to the authorities was reasonable.

The eastern parts of Europe have seen significant numbers of home crypto mining in the last few years. This is because the region enjoys preferentially subsidized electricity rates. According to local reports, private residents and other categories of consumers pay 1.22 rubles per kWh ($0.018) during the day and 0.70 rubles ($0.010) at night, so it’s no surprise that enterprising individuals and organizations like ‘Grace’ may have been taking advantage of the cheap electrify to earn extra income.

The recent court ruling, however, could change how authorities in Russia and the surrounding areas will be handle home-based crypto mining activities. Similar to ‘Grace’s’ case, other utility companies could start charging home crypto miners the same electricity rates as those paid by industries and big organizations.

Countries with favorable electricity prices have had to take a stand to control crypto mining activities and electricity consumption. Many have taken action against miners for stealing electricity. Recently, a miner in China was charged with mining cryptocurrency using stolen electricity. The court sentenced him to three years and six months in prison for his actions.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Coinbase opens Dublin office amid Brexit uncertainty

San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has announced the opening of a Dublin site, its second office in Europe.

In a blog post, Coinbase Vice-President for Operations and Technology Tina Bhatnagar said, “Our new office will help us tap into the city’s diverse talent pool and long-standing support for technological innovation, including a burgeoning cryptocurrency economy.”

She said that the team in Dublin “will complement Coinbase operations in London and host a variety of new business-related functions, including roles for which we’re hiring right now.”

Ireland’s Minister for Financial Services and Insurance Michael D’Arcy said, “This decision highlights the competitive offering and attractiveness of Ireland for financial services.”

Coinbase UK CEO Zeeshan Feroz told CNBC that uncertainty in the implementation of policies after Great Britain’s 2016 vote to separate from the European Union (EU), “played some part in the decision.” He also pointed out that “[t]he EU is our most significant market outside the U.S.”

Martin Shanahan, CEO of IDA Ireland, the country’s inward investment promotion agency, said, “Dublin is a talent hotspot for companies like Coinbase as they scale and internationalize critical business operations.”

Last month, the UK Parliament’s Treasury committee released a report that recommended for additional oversight of the cryptocurrency trade, to be handled by the Financial Conduct Authority. The report denied that cryptocurrencies served as media of exchange, due to their volatility in price.

Coinbase has also recently opened an office in New York, to focus mainly on institutional clients. The New York office currently has a work force of 20, but is set to increase by 150 next year, to handle the expansion.

Even at present, regular users are reportedly experiencing delays with withdrawal of funds. Some 200 pages of complaints against Coinbase had reportedly been filed at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last summer. Responding to such concerns, the company said it was addressing the problems by hiring more personnel and working to reduce response times, among other actions.

As part of Coinbase’s efforts at developing its global market, it has modified its cryptocurrency listing procedure, allowing users to directly suggest or apply for tokens to be listed.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Financial giant Fidelity launches crypto company

Financial services giant Fidelity Investments has launched its cryptocurrency service for institutional investors.

The new company, Fidelity Digital Asset Services, LLC, will be providing cryptocurrency trading as well as custody services, according to Fidelity.

Fidelity Investments Chairman and CEO Abigail Johnson said, “We expect to continue investing and experimenting, over the long-term, with ways to make this emerging asset class easier for our clients to understand and use.”

Fidelity Digital Asset Services head Tom Jessop said that his team had been exploring blockchain for years. The company began researching with its Blockchain Incubator in 2013, experimenting with mining, and allowing clients to view their Coinbase exchange accounts on Fidelity.com. It had also launched Fidelity Charitable in 2015, which received $69 million in cryptocurrency donations in 2017.

“The creation of Fidelity Digital Assets is the first step in a long-term vision to create a full-service enterprise-grade platform for digital assets,” Jessop said.

He noted that there remained a lack of support for institutions, even as there are already numerous cryptocurrency-related services available.

According to the Fidelity Global Institutional Investor Survey conducted this year in 25 countries, 70% of institutional investors saw new asset classes coming about with the increased use of blockchain and other technologies.

“Whether it’s the rising popularity as a store of value or relative non-correlation to the broader market, the potential to power lower-cost global payments, or the emergence of protocols that could power new industries, institutional investors are interested in engaging with this new asset class,” the Fidelity Investments statement read.

Aside from digital asset custody and trade execution services, Fidelity Digital Asset Services will also offer client support where investors “will have access to a dedicated team of client service specialists, from onboarding throughout the entire relationship with the company.”

Fidelity Investments, a 70-year-old company, manages $7.2 trillion in assets worldwide, and employs 40,000 people. The company first announced its intention to enter the cryptocurrency market last June.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Bitfinex now makes it easier for users to track their activities

The Bitfinex cryptocurrency exchange has come under fire for a lot of issues lately. Last week, it was accused of being insolvent, which it vehemently denied, and was the target of a cyber-attack this past June. Perhaps in an effort to appease customers, the exchange is introducing new tools designed to give users more control, as well as greater activity insight, over their trades.

Hong Kong-based Bitfinex announced the new tools via a blog post published last week. The tools will allow greater flexibility in reviewing account data and users will now be able to “instantly compile an overview of necessary account information stemming as far back as account history goes.”

Bitfinex explains, “As institutions and professional traders enter the digital asset trading space, Bitfinex remains committed to creating the tools required to thoroughly meet their needs. We are of the belief that our suite of tools work to accelerate the rate of global adoption and help facilitate an increasingly mature market.”

Users of the platform can now work offline, facilitated by local storage of their databases. The new system is, according to the announcement, going to be converted to an open-source solution that will allow for the development of customized tools that can better serve individual needs.

The new reporting platform also contains a wallet that is added to end-point ledgers. This provides users with the ability to see which wallets are involved in transactions. End-point currencies have also been added. The announcement further states, “End-points ‘accountTrades’, ‘orderHistory’, ‘fundingOfferHistory’, ‘fundingLoanHistory’ and ‘fundingCreditHistory’ were modified, adding the option to return all the data without filtering by pair/coin when no pair/coin is sent.”

The introduction of the tools coincides with a global effort on the part of regulators to try and prevent tax evasion through cryptocurrencies. More financial authorities around the world are putting pressure on exchanges to have them play a larger role in controlling the cryptocurrency ecosystem. This has resulted in more exchanges, and even some cryptocurrency wallets, adopting policies requiring that their users adhere to Know Your Customer and anti-money laundering regulations.

On October 11, Bitfinex suspended deposits amidst a massive cryptocurrency selloff. As of this writing, deposits are still offline, but withdrawals are reportedly active.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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