Blockstack’s SEC-approved token offering raises $23 million

US-based blockchain startup, Blockstack PBC, is in the news after it announced that it had raised about $23 million in an SEC-approved token offering, making it the first to run a token offering under regulation A+. Blockstack shared the update with the community via a blog post which suggested that over 4,500 people and entities […]
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Crypto Research Group Advocate Federal Digital Asset Regulation

Researchers at CoinCenter are in favour of a federal level regulatory framework to overlook intermediaries doing business with crypto assets in the United States. The non-profit organisation argues that the existing state-by-state regulations are a mess and that differing approaches in different jurisdictions limit the innovative potential of the industry.
CoinCenter proposes an optional federal licence issued by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. This would allow for greater oversight to prevent against manipulation and fraud.
CoinCenter: Greater Regulatory Clarity Needed for Crypto
The CoinCenter cryptocurrency research organisation has published recommendations that it believes would make for a fair regulatory framework to govern intermediaries dealing with digital assets at the federal level. In the post, CoinCenter writes that the current state-by-state approach to regulation does not fit the cryptocurrency market:
“… the lack of uniformity amongst state licensing laws, coupled with confusing language drafted long before cryptocurrency technologies existed, presents a real barrier to innovation.”
Other nations, like Malta, for example, have been proactive in creating crypto asset-specific regulations and have benefited from an influx of digital currency startups setting up shop there. These have included the exchange giant Binance, for example.
There are fears that the US risks driving innovation overseas if it does not come up with a system that promotes the kind of regulatory clarity cryptocurrency startups crave. For this reason, CoinCenter are in favour of federal-level regulation to provide greater clarity to firms doing business in the industry. The organisation also offers its services in helping lawmakers draw up the kind of legislation that would allow the United States to become a crypto industry leader.
According to CoinCenter, such a regulatory framework should firmly define the role of regulatory agencies in relation to cryptocurrency. Under the proposals made by the researchers, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), for example, would only have jurisdiction in cases involving new cryptocurrencies marketed as investment vehicles (ICOs). Meanwhile, the CFTC would be responsible for issuing optional federal licences.
CoinCenter describes the potential benefits of such a federal licencing system running alongside existing state-level regulations:
“This federal license should subject licensed entities to sensible spot market oversight for anti-manipulation, anti-fraud, consumer disclosure, and prudential (licensing, minimum-capitalization, etc.) regulations.”
Cryptocurrency was recently catapulted to the forefront of global lawmakers’ minds. The social media giant Facebook detailed its plans to launch its own digital currency called Libra in June. The company’s announcement ruffled regulators’ feathers around the world and many of their responses to the plans mentioned Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as well as just Facebook’s intentions.
 
Related Reading: Expert Claims Cryptocurrency Mining Requires Regulation To Stop Human Trafficking
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United States Regulators Begin Crack Down on Crypto and Bitcoin Crime

Following the announcement of Facebook Libra – a crypto project aimed to replace the US dollar and other fiat currencies, the United States has been up in arms regarding Libra, Bitcoin, and the rest of the cryptocurrency landscape.
The US is finally ready to begin regulating this portion of the financial sector and has begun a widespread crypto crackdown that’s only increased in recent weeks.
Crypto Criminals Fall Like Dominoes Following US Regulatory Push
Suspicions began to arise that heavy-handed regulation from the United States might be on the way the moment crypto exchange Binance announced it would be barring US-based crypto investors from using its flagship website in favor of ushering them to a US-based platform sans many of the altcoins that makes Binance attractive, in partnership with a yet-t0-be-named partner.
US investors make up the largest chunk of crypto investors, and fears that the asset they could be holding may soon be outlawed has caused bearish sell pressure across the space.
And while Bitcoin price is falling, so too are criminals who use Bitcoin and crypto assets in their illicit transactions, one-by-one like dominoes, now that the United States has begun what appears to be a major crackdown on the asset class.

I am not a fan of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air. Unregulated Crypto Assets can facilitate unlawful behavior, including drug trade and other illegal activity….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2019

Following some scathing tweets by United States President Donald Trump about crypto and Bitcoin being used for criminal activities like cybercrime, drug dealing, human trafficking, and money laundering, and negative comments by Trump-appointed Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin, a number of Bitcoin-using criminals have become targets.
Related Reading | Alleged Silk Road Drug Dealer Arrested For Using Bitcoin For Money Laundering 
It started last week when a Silk Road drug dealer was arrested for allegedly using Bitcoin to launder the money he earned from drug deals over the dark web marketplace. After that, another drug dealer has been arrested for his connection to a crime related to Bitcoin, opiates, and unexplainable Zimbabwean currency stockpiles.
Next, the United States Department of Justice filed a civil lawsuit against “Mr. Bitcoin” Alexander Vinnick, founder and CEO of Russian crypto exchange BTC-e, which has been called a “hotbed” for money laundering and other crime. Even BitMEX, a leader in the space, is being investigated by the CFTC for unlawfully serving US citizens knowingly.

But Bitcoin Holders Fear Being Treated Like Criminals
While these instances are criminals having their crimes catch up with them now that government agencies have caught up with the times and technology associated with crypto. However, the real fear is that the US government begins to start turning their crypto crackdown towards regular US citizens just for holding Bitcoin and altcoins.
Related Reading | The United States’ Distrust in Facebook Libra Is Spilling Into Crypto
An outright ban is possible but unlikely, but at the very least the Internal Revenue Service aims to make crypto investors life that much more difficult, and have issued a threatening letter to 10,000 holders of cryptocurrencies. The letter reminds taxpayers to report crypto-related taxes which in the past the agency has admitted to lacking clarity.
It’s the lack of clarity around both taxes, and the upcoming regulation in the United States that is causing fear, uncertainty, and doubt across the market and has turned the bullish sentiment bearish in a matter of weeks. The days ahead are important for Bitcoin and the rest of the market, especially for US investors and traders.
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US Treasury Secretary is Adamant That He Won’t Be Talking About Bitcoin in Ten Years

Hardly surprisingly, the United States Treasury Secretary has stated that he will neither be talking about or investing in Bitcoin in the future. Steven Mnuchin says that even during his stint in his current position, he will certainly have “other priorities” that do not involve crypto assets.
The comments come just days after Mnuchin lambasted Bitcoin for its supposed use in money laundering and other financial crimes.
Steven Mnuchin is Sure Bitcoin Has No Future
Despite possessing no discernible powers of divination, Steve Mnuchin is adamant that he will not be troubled with any more Bitcoin questions from reporters in ten years time. Speaking on CNBC’s “Squawk Box“, the US Treasury Secretary quite explicitly stated:
“I won’t be talking about Bitcoin in ten years, I can assure you that.”

"I can assure you I will personally not be loaded up on bitcoin" in 10 years, says Treasury Secretary Mnuchin #bitcoin pic.twitter.com/0J5acWQwRO
— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) July 24, 2019

New convert to the crypto asset movement and presenter of the CNBC segment, Joe “Squawk” Kernan, joked that as Treasury Secretary of one of planet’s largest economic powers, Mnuchin might be forced to talk about the fintech innovation in five or six years. To this, Mnuchin replied:
“I would bet in even five or six years, I’m no longer talking about Bitcoin as Treasury Secretary. I’ll have other priorities.”
Such a presumptuous response seemed to irk Kernan, who scoffed:
“You’ll be loaded up on Bitcoin and I’ll bet a gazzilionaire!”
Unfortunately, Mnuchin did not rise to the quip and instead simply assured the presenter that he will not ever be investing in the digital asset whose network is currently valued at over $176 billion.
Mnuchin’s pessimistic words on CNBC come just over a week after the US Treasury Secretary stated that the crypto asset was a threat to national security. Following this initial White House press briefing, he then stated that the US government would be enforcing robust financial regulations against those that were using the technology to pursue illicit ends.
Despite evidence suggesting that by far the dominant use case of Bitcoin is speculation and not money laundering, Mnuchin still holds on to the dated view that the breakthrough technology is merely useful for evading law enforcement. The US Treasury Secretary fails to see the bigger picture in terms of technological advancement. Almost every great innovation in history first finds criminal use cases. Since a criminal’s livelihood is one of high risk and high reward, they are more open minded when it comes to embracing cutting-edge technology first.
As explained by controversial Bitcoin proponent John McAfee in the below video directed at President Trump, niche criminal use of some technology that can bring greater freedom to the entire planet should not be condemned. Criminals were early adopters and continue to use many breakthrough technologies – the motor car, the internet, the mobile telephone, and yes, Bitcoin.

My response to Donald Trump regarding his "Dislike of Cryptocurrency" tweet. pic.twitter.com/TkaPPqULQC
— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) July 12, 2019

 
Related Reading: CNBC Analyst Calls Secretary Mnuchin Out on Bitcoin Criticism
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Coinbase Crypto Milestone: Amasses 30M Users, 5M in Last 10 Months

San Francisco-based crypto exchange Coinbase, is among the clear leaders in the crypto industry, helping to shape and define the future of the space and what products are offered to the market’s participants. It is also the most commonly used fiat-to-crypto gateway in the United States – a market that consists of the largest portion of investors across the globe.
According to new data shared by renowned Bitcoin entrepreneur and startup investor Alistair Milne, Coinbase has amassed a massive user base of 30 million users, with as much as 5 million new users added over the last ten months as Bitcoin found its bottom and began to rise once again. After such a major milestone, where does the world’s most well-known crypto exchange go from here?
Coinbase Reaches Staggering 30 Million Users, Sees Over 15% Increase In 10 Months
Around the time Bitcoin hit the mainstream public and reached its all-time high of $20,000 at the tail end of December 2017, Coinbase topped Apple’s App Store as the most popular app in the finance category, showing the world that crypto was a force to be respected. Since then, Bitcoin fell into a bear market and the entire asset class has since struggled, but has recently showed a glimmer of hope once again with trading volume surging and interest once again returning to the industry.

Coinbase has passed 30million users this month(adding 5million users in the last ~10 months)#bitcoin pic.twitter.com/3SNO7HwBxg
— Alistair Milne (@alistairmilne) July 22, 2019

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong pushed his team to stay strong during the 2018 bear market and use the downtrend to build a solid foundation for when the bull market resumed. While a full blown bull market may not be here yet, over the last ten months during that time, Coinbase was able to add an additional 5 million users, or an additional 16.6% to its already massive userbase.
What’s Next for the Leading US-Based Crypto Exchange?
In a recent live YouTube AMA, a segment where someone invites an audience to “ask me anything,” popularized by a Reddit subreddit of the same title, Armstrong revealed that he wants to take his firm beyond just crypto trading, but to pursue pushing widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies by offering an extensive list of services beyond trading.
But Coinbase and the rest of the crypto market may be headed into uncharted territory soon once regulation hits the industry. Crypto has long been said to be a “wild west” type environment rife with scams, crime, and shady players. The CFTC and other chief financial regulators will soon be targeting businesses that don’t comply with law, starting with BitMEX.
Related Reading | US Congressman: You Can’t Kill Bitcoin, Libra And Others Trying to Mimic
While Coinbase does comply, and isn’t at the same risk BitMEX may be, even a recent Squawk Box segment had CNBC technology correspondent Josh Lipton posited a question on what happens to Bitcoin and crypto if “Coinbase cannot accept money from a US citizen,” in reference to the recent burst of regulatory pressure from President Donald Trump, the Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin  and a wide variety of politicians and pundits that are opposed to the asset class. While such a move is unlikely, and Bitcoin cannot be killed, it would still hurt the industry and significantly damage Coinbase as a business.
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US Congressman: You Can’t Kill Bitcoin, Libra And Others Trying to Mimic

All eyes are on Bitcoin, Facebook’s Libra, and the entire cryptocurrency market this week, following a tweet from the United States President Donald Trump, a Senate hearing on Libra, and an abundance of financial industry chatter as the crypto market takes its first steps towards serious regulation and legitimacy.
But before it happens, Bitcoin still has growing pains to go through. The asset has been performing well since it’s bear market bottom, but the sudden fear over the coming regulation has caused the entire market to panic and a sell off has begun. However, one United States Congressman offers some reassurance to Bitcoin investors: “there’s no capacity to kill Bitcoin.”
U.S. State House Representative Patrick McHenry: You Can’t Kill Bitcoin
The talk across the financial space and corporate world is currently about Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, and the corporation’s plans to launch its own digital currency called Libra. The company has formed a consortium with other major corporations to launch what they envision to be the future of money: a fiat-backed cryptocurrency in the vein of Bitcoin, but with additional controls and centralization – the complete opposite of what Bitcoin stands for.
Related Reading | The United States’ Distrust in Facebook Libra Is Spilling Into Crypto 
The emergence of Facebook Libra has brought a nasty rain cloud over the crypto industry that had just shed its “crypto winter.” Now, as another storm is on the horizon, many are preparing for the worst – such as the destruction of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
But Bitcoin cannot be killed, according to North Carolina House Representative Patrick McHenry, who defended the first ever cryptocurrency on a segment of the CNBC’s Squawk Box says that he thinks “there’s no capacity to kill Bitcoin.”

"I think there's no capacity to kill bitcoin" says @PatrickMcHenry #btc pic.twitter.com/DY70tx2TvV
— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) July 17, 2019

“I think there’s no capacity to kill Bitcoin. Even the Chinese with their firewall and extreme intervention in their society could not kill Bitcoin,” he added.
The comment was made in response to CNBC technology correspondent Josh Lipton who had asked the politician if regulators like himself would “allow the emergence of these new types of currencies if they don’t look a lot like the regulations and guardrails we currently have around fiat currency and money.”
Altcoins Are Not As Safe From Regulation or Destruction
McHenry believes that as a first mover in the space, and because Bitcoin’s distributed ledger it’s decentralized, it cannot be stopped, as its creator had intended.
As for altcoins, the policy maker says that “new iterations of” Bitcoin are trying to “mimic it,” but because they aren’t fully open source or completely decentralized, there’s “mechanism” to destroy or control them that just don’t exist in altcoins.
Related Reading | Bitcoin Blasts Below $10K, Following Senate Hearing on Facebook Crypto 
Lipton poses the example of what if “Coinbase cannot accept money from a US citizen,” suggesting such regulation would be incredibly harmful for Bitcoin.
“I’m not saying you you will shut down Bitcoin, it will exist somewhere, and be sort of in a dark web kinda situation, but it would effectively make it difficult for the mainstream to use it.
McHentry argues that it isn’t yet mainstream, and that even if Bitcoin may be forced to live in the “shadows,” it’ll live on. He added that it’s something that people once “gave away fro free” and now it’s worth nearly $10,000 per coin and something that companies like Facebook and others are trying to “mimic.”
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Fireworks Expected as Bitcoin Breaks Below $11,000 Ahead of Holiday Weekend

After a strong rejection at $14,000, Bitcoin’s parabolic rally has been cut short, and the leading crypto asset by market cap is taking a much needed pause and correction after bringing investors over 300% gains since the start of 2019. But after a flash crash stopped the rally in its tracks, Bitcoin price has been setting lower highs and the market is consolidating ahead of the next major move, and fireworks are expected when it finally happens.
Since weekends often provide little liquidity, it also provides an opportunity for whales to cause extreme price movements in either direction once the order book is cleared out. Holidays also have this effect, and with Bitcoin breaking below $11,000 ahead of the Independence Day holiday weekend when many families are traveling and on vacation, the crypto asset is at high risk of being sent back down to retest lows for support.
Bitcoin Price Drops Below $11,000 Just Ahead of Holiday Weekend
A new study revealed that holidays provide large capital players with the opportunity to easily move prices, and it’s allowed Bitcoin price to soar on recent the notable dates.
Related Reading | Research Shows That Holidays Cause FOMO Fireworks in Bitcoin Price Charts
However, on Independence Day this past July 4th, Bitcoin price fell over $1,000 from a high of above $12,000 to below $11,000 at the time of this writing, and it could be an omen to the price action in the coming holiday weekend.
All across the United States, families and businesses go on vacation, unwind, and celebrate he nation’s biggest holiday. It’s prime travel time, and a rare opportunity for laser-focused traders to take a break from staring at price charts and catching some rest and relaxation instead of falling knives.
Those that aren’t watching Bitcoin price charts closely may miss an explosive move that sets the trend for the coming weeks and potentially months.

Bitcoin has been said to be on its next bull run by most crypto analysts, however, some do suggest that a pullback and retest of former lows would not only be healthy for Bitcoin, but mandatory for the next bull market to be a long and prosperous one for investors of the emerging asset class.
Related Reading | Two Long-Term Bulls Butt Heads Over Short-Term Bitcoin Price Direction
If Bitcoin breaks below the previous low of $9,600, lows between former resistance turned support at $6,000 up until the former low could be retested. On the flipside, if the leading crypto by market cap rises above $13,800 and goes straight through the resistance at $14,000 that caused a massive flash crash, Bitcoin will be well on its way to setting a new all-time high in no time and recapturing the interest of the mainstream public once again.
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Bitcoin’s mission to succeed gold holdings in countries no longer an utopian possibility

Bitcoin has stolen the scene in the cryptocurrency market again after massive surges propelled the world’s largest cryptocurrency past the $10,000 mark recently. The price boom resulted in many proponents of the cryptocurrency to make connections between the growth of the digital asset and its impact on mainstream finance in the future. A recent analysis […]
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US Federal Attorney: Bitcoin Used to Indict Suspected Fentanyl, Proves It is No Good for Evading Authorities

Another suspected dark web drug dealer is about to stand trail because he wrongly believed Bitcoin transactions were entirely anonymous. This has prompted the US Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, Erin Nealy Cox, to issue a warning for all those attempting to deal drugs online using Bitcoin.
In the early days of Bitcoin, it was widely touted as an entirely anonymous payment system. It is kind of difficult to see how this perception stuck, however, since all transactions have always been recorded on a publicly accessible ledger.
Suspected Fentanyl Dealer Busted Because of Bitcoin Use
According to a press release by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement a Dallas resident has been indicted on suspicion of dealing the deadly opioid fentanyl via the dark web.

Darknet fentanyl dealer indicted in Dallas for selling deadly drug for bitcoin https://t.co/oJDrz3vTop pic.twitter.com/Ch8ahqO1sg
— ICE (@ICEgov) May 29, 2019

The case has been a joint investigation by the US Immigration Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigation, IRS’s Criminal Investigation Division’s Los Angeles field office, and the US Postal Inspection Service.
Sean Shaughnessy, of Dallas, Texas, has been charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, distribution of a controlled substance, distribution of a controlled substance analogue, and eight counts of money laundering. He could face up to 20 years in federal prison for each of the 11 charges against him.
The 51-year-old is believed to have posted fentanyl to customers in exchange for Bitcoin and other crypto assets. The ICE press release states that one of those buying the substance from Shaughnessy overdosed and died from taking it.
The release goes on to state that the suspect then transferred the crypto funds received to others in exchange for fiat that posted directly to him. However, Shaughnessy was unaware that he was actually sending Bitcoin and other crypto to wallets controlled by federal agents. He is believed to have sent over $120,000 in total. This is how authorities tracked him down.
US Attorney Neal Cox stated of the indictment:
“Dark net dealers often believe that by using bitcoin, they can evade authorities. This prosecution proves that’s not the case… We will continue to pursue anyone peddling this deadly drug — on the streets or online.”
Katherine Greer, Acting Special Agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations, added:
“Our significant domestic and international HSI resources and expertise, along with the considerable resources of our law enforcement partners, provided an unbeatable team to investigate this fentanyl smuggling operation so that we could effect this indictment… This deadly drug – combined with the secrecy of bitcoin currency – represent a significant danger to an already-devastating national opioid epidemic.”
The numbers of criminals that have been brought to justice thanks to their belief that Bitcoin is entirely anonymous continues to grow. Blockchain forensics efforts from companies like Chainalysis and CipherTrace are becoming increasingly sophisticated, proving that Bitcoin is anything but the wonder currency for criminals it has often been portrayed as by the mainstream media and its most vocal critics.
 
Related Reading: Website Providing Links to Illicit Crypto Marketplaces Seized
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Congress Slams IRS Over Bitcoin Tax Law; Here’s the Major Loophole for Crypto Investors

The United States tax deadline has came and went, and thanks to overwhelmingly confusing tax laws, crypto and Bitcoin investors are left scratching their heads, with many outright refusing to report their crypto earnings and losses on their annual tax filing.
It’s not U.S. taxpayers who are alone in feeling confused by the complex tax laws and lack of clear guidance. Congress has issued a scathing letter to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) asking for clarity on how U.S. residents should go about paying their taxes on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The letter itself, suggests a leading tax attorney with experience in advising crypto clients, creates a major loophole for crypto investors who are at risk to become audited or worse.
Congress Issues Letter to IRS Requesting Bitcoin Tax Clarity
Tax day in the United States was this past Monday – a day many U.S. taxpayers dread. Tax laws in the country are already complicated, and confusing, requiring many taxpayers to either invest in software or pay a tax advisor to help guide them through the process and ensure all gains and losses are accurately reported.
Related Reading | Overwhelming Majority of Bitcoin and Crypto Investors Refuse to Report Taxes
The confusion is significantly amplified when you take into account an emerging asset class that is not fully understood, is unregulated, and has a multitude of potential use cases that walk the line of different classifications. Making matters worse, the IRS has only issued one public notice back in 2014 on how to pay taxes on cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin since its inception, yet carries fines of up to $500,000 and up to five years in prison if taxes aren’t reported properly.
The glaring issue has prompted Congress to issue a letter to the IRS, demanding answers for U.S. taxpayers who are lost on how to report crypto-related transactions on their taxes.
“Taxpayers deserve clarity on several basic unanswered questions regarding federal taxation of these emerging exchanges of value,” the letter read. “Guidance is long overdue and essential to proper reporting of these emerging assets. The bipartisan support this letter has received should send a clear message to the IRS that clear guidelines for reporting virtual currency are necessary,” added Minnesota Congressman Tom Emmer.

Letter Inadvertently Provides Major Loophole for Crypto Investors
The letter itself Congress sent to the IRS, may further complicate things for the U.S. government, according to San Francisco-based tax lawyer Alex Kugelman who is familiar with advising cryptocurrency clients. Kugelman says that the letter could act as a sort of protection for any crypto investors that may have been targeted by the IRS’s crackdown on crypto tax evaders.
Related Reading | Confusing U.S. Tax Laws Lead to $5 Billion In Unrealized Crypto Losses
Kugelman explained that “if any of my clients are audited, I am going to present this to auditors – how can the IRS take enforcement action against taxpayers when there is such an obvious lack of guidance?”
With fines as steep as $500,000 and charges that could lead to up to five years in prison, having this added layer of protection on what is a complex and confusing situation, can be an ace up the sleeve for crypto investors or traders who find themselves in a precarious situation with the IRS.
Disclaimer: This information should not be taken as tax advice. Seek a certified public accountant for any crypto tax related questions.
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Petro and Venezuela: The arrival of United States and the South American country’s crumbling economy

This is Part 2 of our article on Petro and Venezuela.
As discussed in Part 1 of the article, the launch of Petro in Venezuela created a massive wave of apprehension among the world community, with many leaders condemning the Nicolas Maduro government for launching a cryptocurrency over focusing on improving the country’s failing economy. The United States was not far behind either, and has been heavily involved in Venezuela recently. This article looks at the steps taken by the US to oversee and check Venezuela, as well as the current scenario in the financially ravaged South American country.
The United States Point of View
Venezuela and the US have had a tumultuous relationship in the past, with the first clear line of animosity drawn in 2015 when the then-President Barack Obama signed sanctions halting crude exports from within Venezuela. This decision formed the backbone of Nicolas Maduro’s animosity towards the US, with the South American country making it clear at the World Trade Organization that the sanctions against it were ‘discriminatory’.
Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, has widened the chasm between the two countries by backing Juan Guaido, the leader of the Venezuelan Opposition party. Guaido also received support from other countries like Canada and Germany, forcing Maduro to speculate about a grand coup orchestrated by the world’s most powerful nations. The sheer amount of opposition did not stop the Venezuelan government from boosting its Petro prowess though, as the government established its own cryptocurrency regulatory authority called Sunacrip.
Since its inception, Sunacrip has released multiple decrees and articles to integrate Petro into the workings of the Venezuelan economy. One of the official decrees from Sunacrip says,
“The sender of the remittances referred to in this ruling is obliged to pay a financial commission in favor of Sunacrip up to a maximum amount of 15% calculated on the total of the remittance.”
The developments around Petro peaked on 11 March, 2019, when the US government reportedly discovered that there were Russian links in money transfers to Venezuela. Evrofinance Morasbank, a bank jointly owned by Russian and Venezuelan state entities, had assisted and provided support for the PDSA, said the United States Treasury. Steen Munchin, the United States’ Treasury Secretary, had said,
“The United States will take action against foreign financial institutions that sustain the illegitimate Maduro regime and contribute to the economic collapse and humanitarian crisis plaguing the people of Venezuela.”
The bank did not retaliate to the comments made by the Treasury, promising to continue working for its clients. However, Russia made a strong statement, stating that it will fund the bank if the US continues its clampdown.
Venezuela right now
With the intervention of multiple countries into the grand scheme of things, it is hard to ignore who the real victims are: the people of Venezuela. They were supposed to be relieved off their financial troubles with the launch of Petro, but all it has done is broken the system even more. It is not like Petro didn’t take off due to the lack of cryptocurrency knowledge in the country. In fact, the truth is far from it.
During the launch of Petro, Dash, another popular cryptocurrency, was already being used in public and private transactions. The country also had its own Bitcoin ATMs, with some speculating that Venezuela was so involved in the cryptospace that a dip in transactions resulted in a significant dip in the total BTC transactions volume.  
The integration of Petro into the financial system of Venezuela was supposed to be a landmark move, aimed at arresting the country’s degradation. Looking at the factors mentioned earlier, it is clear that the state-backed cryptocurrency has not done anything to save the country. Last year, when Maduro spoke about the cryptocurrency, he claimed that it will change the way citizens live in the country. In some twisted way, that is exactly what has happened.
With the latest blackout, Venezuela has fallen deeper into the chasm. Schools were closed, communications were negligible, and food and water resources were depleting. In the midst of all this, Maduro’s main focus has been to curb Juan Guaido’s ascendancy. On 28 March, the incumbent government banned Guaido from holding any public office for the next 15 years, a rule brushed off by the interim President who stated,
“It doesn’t matter. We will continue to raise our voice from the streets.”
Despite the aloofness of the government and the President, organizations such as the Red Cross have been trying to protect the citizens of Venezuela. Just recently, the humanitarian organization managed to broker a deal within the country to allow delivery of aid to the affected people. Red Cross claimed that the scale of operations was similar to the Syrian situation in terms of people affected.
Petro’s failure was again evidenced when Venezuelan citizens continued to use fiat money and credit cards for their day-to-day activities, instead of Venezuela’s own cryptocurrency. The movement of Petro within the country has also been scarce as only a handful of people have reported to having used it. Links with Russia have only hurt Petro’s reputation, with reports still waiting to confirm Vladimir Putin’s involvement in the creation of Petro.
Venezuela is now a playground for Russia-US geopolitics and the only victims are the citizens of the South American country. Cryptocurrencies have provided some hope though, with on-ground reports showing that people have actually used Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash for ‘much needed financial freedom.’ Right now, Venezuela is holding on for dear life, with help pouring in from different quarters of the world. However, one thing is for certain: Petro is not the country’s savior.
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Government should ‘stay out of the way’ at times, says US State Department official

The first day of 2019’s DC Blockchain Summit in Washington D.C. saw many prominent people from the field of U.S. politics. One such speaker was Manisha Singh, who suggested that the the country was closely observing global approaches to blockchain.
The Acting Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, Manisha Singh, stated that the Trump Administration was surveying other States’ activities in the field, while discussing domestic and coordinated international efforts around blockchain.
Singh spoke about the State Department’s perspective on blockchain and what the agency looked for in other nations. Singh said,
“We want to see other countries adopt light-touch and compatible regulations so the private sector has room to innovate and perfect potential new uses for blockchain. As the government, sometimes the best thing we can do to help is stay out of the way.”
Singh added that the State Department was in the research phase and was still trying to understand the tech. She further added,
“Blockchain technology is becoming a global phenomenon. It is therefore essential that we better understand this cutting-edge technology, as it becomes more widely adopted in our economy.”
The United States is picking up pace with respect to cryptocurrency regulation and has already pushed blockchain technology experimentation in different fields, especially at the state level, reported Cointelegraph. The use cases that have been recently added include defense and voting procedures, among others.
Singh added that lawmakers were curious about decentralization. She said that they will conduct oversight as needed and ensure public protection. The overall goal of the agency was to understand blockchain technology and its open and decentralized nature.
According to the publication, Christopher Giancarlo, Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), considered blockchain as a “would-be mitigating factor in the 2008 economic crash,” at the same summit.
He was reported by the publication as saying,
“What a difference it would have made a decade ago if blockchain technology had been the informational foundation of Wall Street’s derivatives exposures.”
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Source: AMB Crypto

Fed Chair Concerned About $22 Trillion US Debt, is Bitcoin a Viable Alternative?

The US national debt now stands at $21.974 trillion, a 10% increase since President Donald Trump took over the oval office. And Bitcoin may be the needle people need to pop the debt bubble.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell, talking about the $22 trillion US debt:
"I'm very worried about it, but from the Fed's standpoint . . . the long-run fiscal non-sustainability of the US federal government isn't really something that plays into . . . our policy decisions."
Buy bitcoin.
— Jake Chervinsky (@jchervinsky) February 1, 2019

“From the Fed’s standpoint, we’re looking at a business cycle length: that’s our frame of reference,” Powell said. “The long-run fiscal, non-sustainability of the U.S. federal government isn’t [really] something that plays into the medium term that is relevant for our policy decisions.”
Understanding the Debt Bubble
In retrospective, the national debt is a way of measuring what the US government owes to its creditors. Since the government always spends more than what it takes, the said debt continues to rise. For instance, under the Obama administration, the national debt had increased from $10 to $20 trillion – a spotless 100 percent.
In the past 60 years, the US government has struggled to balance the budget – by spending and earning at an equal level. Every passing administration left a higher debt burden for the next, starting with President Ronald Reagan via President Clinton to President Obama. The US never came out of the so-called debt bubble.
But it doesn’t necessarily mean that they cannot. After all, the US is sitting atop a dollar printing press.
Ideally, Uncle Sam can print its own money, unlike other nations. The size of their debts – arguably – does not matter because the government can pay its debt any day it wants. They would not have to impact the standard of living. According to the Bretton-Woods agreement, the World Bank and the IMF made US Dollar as the world’s only global reserve currency. That led governments across the globe to stash the greenback in their central banks. It created demand, and the US Federal Reserve limited supply.
As of now, there are approximately 1.2 trillion US Dollars in circulation. That is not enough to settle day-to-day global trades: to purchase oil, gas, coffee, corns, and even iPhones. Countries, on the other hand, are sitting atop larger dollar reserves. China, for instance, has $4 trillion; Japan has over $1 trillion – and so on.
Why Bitcoin?
The only thing that changed between then and now is the internet. The millennials now have information about the debt bubble. They understand how every dollar in their pocket is indebted. They also realize that their own national currency is indebted to an-already indebted US Dollar.
Bitcoin enthusiasts project the digital currency as a solution to beat down the dollar hegemony. It expects millennials to exchange their national fiats for a technology that is independent of the US debts, government policies, Federal rate hikes, and whatnot.
Vinny Lingham, the founder of Civic, said that bitcoin’s intrinsic attractiveness against the debt bubble would attract more wealth.
“More wealth will be created in crypto over the next 10 years, than over the prior 10 years,” said Lingham. But remember, like any success story, it’s not going to be a straight line up. Keep believing and just be patient.”
Erik Voorhees, the founder of Shapeshift, hoped that the world would hedge their savings into bitcoin once the next financial crisis hits.

When the next global financial crisis occurs, and the world realizes organizations with $20 trillion in debt can't possibly ever pay it back, and thus must print it instead, and thus fiat is doomed… watch what happens to crypto.
— Erik Voorhees (@ErikVoorhees) November 8, 2018

“They,” Voorhees said while referring to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, “may drop during the early phase liquidity crunch, but ultimately the world will move away from fiat money (printed without end, trending toward zero) toward crypto money (known, transparent, fixed supply, not subject to politicians’ opportunism).”
At the same time, economists have a different opinion. Nouriel Roubini, a New York-based financial expert, said that bitcoin was a mother of all scams. He added that cryptocurrencies were a wet dream of individuals with zero financial literacy. Warren Buffet, a Wall Street investment giant, refused to consider Bitcoin as an investment.
“If you buy something like bitcoin or some cryptocurrency, you don’t have anything that is producing anything,” Buffett said in an interview with Yahoo Finance. “You’re just hoping the next guy pays more. And you only feel you’ll find the next guy to pay more if he thinks he’s going to find someone that’s going to pay more.”
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US Agencies Top List of Law Enforcement Requests Sent to Crypto Exchanges

As the crypto industry grows, its increased use by both innocent cryptocurrency investors and malicious cyber criminals does as well. This has prompted government agencies and financial market regulators to take a deeper look at crypto transactions in order to track down potential criminal behavior in hopes of finding evidence that will lead to successful prosecution.
New data reveals that government agencies in the United States are taking the most interest in crypto, and the country is topping the list of law enforcement related requests being sent to cryptocurrency exchanges across the industry.
US Government Agencies Lead Law Enforcement Requests on ShapeShift
Switzerland-headquartered cryptocurrency exchange ShapeShift has followed the lead of other top cryptocurrency exchanges in offering its customer base and the onlooking public additional transparency into their operations.
In a blog post entitled “Pulling Back The Curtain,” the Erik Voorhees-led exchange revealed how the company complies with law enforcement requests from various countries and their respective government agencies from all over the globe.
Topping the list, is the United States, with 18 law enforcement related requests. The US total requests are over double that of Germany, which ranks second in requests with just 8 in total. Coming in third is the United Kingdom, which has just 33% of the request that the United States did.
Related Reading | Wall Street Journal: ShapeShift is Being Used By Criminals
In fact, just one U.S.-based government agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, matched the entire U.K. for total requests sent to ShapeShift. Other U.S. government agencies that ShapeShift was forced to comply with include the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice, and even the Department of Homeland Security.
ShapeShift explains that the requests vary in nature, but are primarily related to sending subpoenas requesting customer transaction data, transaction IDs, names, email addresses, IP addresses, and more. The blog posts reveals that ShapeShift often doesn’t know why the information is being requested, only that it is, and must keep any details it does have access to confidential.
ShapeShift had previously been known as “the exchange without accounts,” allowing customers to trade crypto assets on their platform without providing any personal details. However, that changed in October 2018 after increased pressure from regulators. Now, ShapeShfit is being forced to share that data with government agencies from all over the globe.
Kraken Crypto Compliance Report Shows Similar Stats, US Leads The Charge
The United States also topped the list in Kraken’s “2018 Transparency Report” with 315 total requests. The next closest was the United Kingdom with a mere 61 requests. The U.S. accounted for the majority of all 475 requests that Kraken received in total.
Another interesting trend was revealed by each report: Law enforcement related requests grew throughout the year, and spiked in Q4 2018.
Related Reading | Crypto and Bitcoin Ransom: A Growing Trend
The crypto space has earned itself the reputation for being a “wild west” type environment, riddled with crime. While there is some truth to this – with the ever-growing prominence of cryptocurrency exchange thefts, crypto-stealing malware, Bitcoin ransoms, and scams – these transparency and compliance reports do show that many cryptocurrency exchanges are doing their best to keep their platforms clean of any crime, and are working closely with law enforcement agencies on compliance.

Featured Image From Shutterstock

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US Government Aims to Make Privacy Coins’ Use Case Obsolete

A branch of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DoHS) is researching the possibility of using blockchain forensic analysis tools to better trace privacy coin transactions.
Privacy No More: US Government Preparing Forensic Analysis Tools
Among the biggest concerns surrounding cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are fears that the emerging technology could facilitate money laundering by rogue countries, terrorist organizations, and cybercriminals.
However, the United States government has increasingly bolstered their ability to trace blockchain transactions, and have even learned how to track Bitcoin transactions back to the source and identify the wallet holder, as was the recent case where the U.S. Treasury sanctioned two men from Iran over their involvement in ransomware attacks.
Related Reading: Iran Is Prepping National Crypto to Evade US Sanctions
Next on the government’s agenda, is to begin looking into privacy-focused cryptocurrencies, such as Dash, Zcash, Monero, and more.
According to a pre-solicitation document published by the DoHS’s Small Business Innovation Research Program. The document, discovered by The Block, the U.S. government is allegedly investigating ways to better track transactions on the blockchains of the aforementioned privacy coins.
The report does speak positively about some of the aspects of privacy coins, but calls attention to transactions of “illegal nature” that occur using said cryptocurrencies. The eventual goal is to build out a platform that law enforcement agencies, government branches, and even private financial institutions can use to analyze and enforce important anti-money laundering laws.
Since the document is just a pre-solicitation, the notice is “merely an opportunity for interested parties to comment on or request information about the attached topic areas,” and doesn’t mean that the government already has such tools in its possession. It does, however, prove that the DoHS has concerns over privacy coins and their potentially illegal usage.
Japan Bans Privacy Coins, Will the United States Follow?
Zcash, Dash, Monero, and many other privacy-focused cryptocurrencies allow users to hide transaction and address data from anyone outside of the sender and receiver.
Monero is the cryptocurrency of choice for most cryptojackers as cybercriminals are able to easily hide their tracks. Monero has also unseated Bitcoin as the most-used cryptocurrency on the dark web, so it’s no surprise to see that the United States is joining Japan in addressing concerns around privacy coins.
Related Reading: Japan’s FSA Grants Self-Regulatory Status to Crypto Industry
In Japan, where cryptocurrency-related theft has skyrocketed, the Financial Services Agency (FSA) has imposed a ban against any cryptocurrency exchanges in the country from offering privacy coins. The ban took effect this past June, and the ripple effect is just now reaching the United States.
Coincheck, which suffered the largest cryptocurrency exchange hack in history at the start of this year, was among the exchanges that were forced to comply with the FSA’s ban, and removed Monero, Dash, Zcash, and Augur’s Reputation coin.
Featured image from Shutterstock.
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