Autor Cointelegraph By Turner Wright

IMF urges El Salvador to remove Bitcoin's status as legal tender

Members of the executive board at the International Monetary Fund are urging lawmakers in El Salvador to no longer recognize Bitcoin as legal tender.The IMF reported on Tuesday that though digital payments had the potential to increase financial inclusion in the Central American nation, the use of Bitcoin (BTC) as legal tender carried “large risks” related to financial stability, financial integrity and consumer protection. The executive board directors urged El Salvador authorities to “narrow the scope of the Bitcoin law by removing Bitcoin’s legal tender status,” also expressing concern about the potential risks of issuing Bitcoin-backed bonds.The officials’ recommendation came following the conclusion of an Article IV consultation in El Salvador. According to the IMF, during such a consultation, a team of economists visits a country “to assess economic and financial developments and discuss the country’s economic and financial policies with government and central bank officials.” Prior to the implementation of El Salvador’s Bitcoin Law in September 201, IMF officials warned that some of the consequences of a country adopting BTC as a national currency “could be dire,” including the risk of having domestic prices becoming highly unstable, and assets being used contrary to Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism measures. The IMF has previously issued statements to small nations considering adopting crypto, claiming that to do so would “raise risks to macroeconomic and financial stability as well as financial integrity.”Since the Bitcoin Law went into effect in September, El Salvador President Nayib Bukele has used his Twitter account to announce several BTC buys totaling 1,801 BTC — worth roughly $67 million at the time of publication. The latest purchase of 410 BTC came as the price of the crypto asset dropped below $37,000 for the first time since July 2021. Nope, I was wrong, didn’t miss it.El Salvador just bought 410 #bitcoin for only 15 million dollars Some guys are selling really cheap ‍♂️— Nayib Bukele (@nayibbukele) January 21, 2022Cointelegraph reported on Jan. 14 that El Salvador’s recognition of BTC as legal tender may be impacting the country’s sovereign credit outlook, according to Moody’s Investors Service. Analyst Jaime Reusche reportedly said that Bitcoin “certainly adds to the risk portfolio” of a country that has struggled with liquidity issues. According to data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro, the price of Bitcoin is $36,550 at the time of publication, having fallen more than 12% in the last seven days. The crypto asset briefly dipped to the $33,000s on Jan. 24 before returning to the $36,000s.

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Coinbase joins NGO's efforts using crypto to help Haitians impacted by earthquakes, civil unrest

Major crypto exchange Coinbase has given a $150,000 grant to Hope for Haiti as part of a pilot program aimed at providing financial assistance to Haitians experiencing social and economic hardship. In a Tuesday announcement, Hope for Haiti said Coinbase would be making the $150,000 contribution to its pilot project with financial inclusion-driven firm Emerging Impact and the Celo Foundation. According to Celo, the project utilizes the Celo Dollar (cUSD) and Emerging Impact’s Umoja platform to provide cash-based assistance to mothers affected by some of the traumatic events in the Caribbean nation.Haiti has been struck by four major earthquakes in the last 12 years, including a magnitude 5.3 quake on Monday, which reportedly left two people dead and 200 homes destroyed. However, the island nation’s capital city of Port-au-Prince was also significantly damaged by a magnitude 7 earthquake in 2010, followed by prolonged civil unrest that was, in part, connected to the current pandemic and the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in July.At Least Two Killed In Haiti Quake, 200 Houses Destroyed— Channels Television (@channelstv) January 25, 2022Coinbase’s charitable arm, Coinbase Giving, provided the funds to be used for the benefit of roughly 1,500 Haitian people — those families with children enrolled in Hope for Haiti’s community nutrition program. The impacted individuals should be able to use the funds for goods and services at more than 30 participating merchants in Haiti, with the option for the vendors to cash out the digital funds using local money management service MonCash.“This initiative with Hope for Haiti and Emerging Impact is particularly exciting because of how it uses blockchain-based technology to promote more efficient and effective giving, hopefully serving as an inspiration for ideas across the cryptoeconomy and philanthropic sectors,” said Coinbase Giving’s head Dominique Baillet.Related: Blockchain folk hero Nandy Martin hopes to build a better community for Haitians in MiamiMany individuals and charitable organizations have employed crypto as a means of getting money into the hands of those who need it most following a natural disaster or are in a country experiencing political turmoil. After many in the Philippines were displaced or injured following typhoon Rai hitting the region in December 2021, the play-to-earn gaming group Yield Guild Games raised $1.4 million to help victims. Similarly, in the wake of the Texas Winter Storm in February 2021, some local disaster relief groups announced they would be accepting crypto donations.

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Former CFTC chair Chris Giancarlo joins Digital Asset's board

Chris Giancarlo, who served as chair for the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission until 2019, will be joining the board of directors for blockchain startup Digital Asset.In a Tuesday announcement, Digital Asset said Giancarlo would be providing counsel on asset tokenization, distributed ledger technology, and the possible impact of regulatory developments on the crypto space. The former CFTC chair is currently working as senior counsel at the Willkie Farr & Gallagher law firm and co-founded the Digital Dollar Project, a non-profit organization aimed at generating data to inform U.S. lawmakers on developing a central bank digital currency, or CBDC.“We are on the precipice of a digital economic transformation that will necessitate safe and secure ways for businesses to interconnect and share assets,” said Giancarlo.I’m excited to join the board of @digitalassetcom at this critical stage in emerging #web3 evolution.— Chris Giancarlo (@giancarloMKTS) January 25, 2022During his time as CFTC chair, Giancarlo also served as a member of the U.S. Financial Stability Oversight Committee, the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets and the executive board of the International Organization of Securities Commissions. Many in crypto and blockchain referred to him as “Crypto Dad” for supporting digital assets during his five years at the CFTC, including overseeing the launch of regulated Bitcoin (BTC) futures and advocating for a “do no harm” approach to blockchain regulation.Giancarlo was replaced as chair by Heath Tarbert in July 2019, for whom current CFTC commissioner Rostin Behnam took over in 2021 as acting chair before being confirmed by the Senate in December. Though no longer serving in an official capacity for any U.S. government agency, the Crypto Dad was on the board of directors at BlockFi for four months in 2021, and recently joined blockchain investment firm CoinFund as a strategic advisor.Related: Chris Giancarlo: U.S. risks becoming ‘backwater’ without central bank digital currencyDigital Asset has raised more than $300 million through funding rounds since its founding in 2014, most recently raising $120 million in a Series D financing round in April 2021. The firm has acquired firms in the crypto and blockchain space including Hyperledger, Bits of Proof, Blockstack and Elevence.

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Amex CEO hints at exploring ways to allow credit card holders to redeem points for crypto

American Express credit card holders may one day be able to redeem points for cryptocurrencies, but the company has no immediate plans to issue a crypto-linked credit card.In a Tuesday interview with Yahoo! Finance, Amex chief executive officer Stephen Squeri said credit card holders were “probably not gonna see a Amex crypto-linked card anytime soon” but the company was already involved in using cards for stablecoins, and monitored for central bank digital currency developments from the U.S. government. The CEO said he considered major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) as “more of an asset class” like gold, but did not think they would facilitate payments in the same way as credit cards given their price volatility.“You don’t have the service with [crypto], you don’t have the dispute rights with it, you’re not getting rewards, and you’re not extending credit,” said Squeri. “All of those values that occur within a credit card do not lend themselves to cryptocurrency.”He added:“We’re exploring other ways, potentially, to redeem your membership rewards points, but I don’t think you’re going to see an American Express card linked to cryptocurrency anytime soon.”Visa and Mastercard seem to be ahead of Amex when it comes to partnering with firms for crypto benefits from card holders’ purchases. In January 2021, crypto exchange Gemini released its own credit card allowing users to earn up to 3% back in BTC. In 2020, BlockFi announced it had partnered with Visa to let cardholders receive 1.5% of their purchases back in BTC.Related: Crypto credit cards could be the missing link to mass adoptionThe benefits aren’t limited to card holders based in the United States — as is sometimes the case for travel and hotel rewards. In December, Mastercard announced it would be launching a crypto-linked payment card across the Asia-Pacific region, enabling users to convert digital assets into fiat.

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Fitch Ratings warns of risks crypto miners pose to US power supply

Global credit rating agency Fitch Ratings is warning public power utilities across the United States to mitigate the risk crypto mining could post their production of power.In a Monday notice, Fitch Ratings said that only utilities in states like Washington, which have excess generation capacity, may be capable of meeting the power requirements of many crypto mining operations. The agency claimed that though some crypto mining firms can become “the largest customer in a rural service territory,“ the operations typically bring in “very little additional economic benefits” from jobs or boosting the local economy.“The volatile and unregulated nature of crypto mining and the large influx of load requests led a number of Washington utilities to adopt new practices beginning in 2014 to mitigate exposure to crypto mining entities, including crypto-currency load moratoriums, evolving rate structures to capture the departure risk of a high-risk industry, and defined customer concentration limits,” said Fitch Ratings.In Texas, where many mining operations have set up shop following an exodus of firms in China, Fitch Ratings suggested utilities companies invest in new facilities, sign long-term power purchase agreements, or obtain power through market purchases in real time to handle the additional load. However, each option carries financial risk which may eventually be passed on to residents:“Crypto mining operations are price-sensitive entities that may be quickly scaled back or shut down if mining becomes uneconomical.”Many crypto mining companies are seeking the most cost-effective area to mine tokens, with some U.S. States, including Texas and Washington, offering more favorable conditions than others. Canadian mining firm Bitfarms announced in November that it was planning to build a data center in Washington State, citing its “cost-effective electricity” and production rates. Whinstone, later acquired by Riot Blockchain, set up shop in Texas, taking advantage of the state’s wind turbines and deregulated power grid.Related: Texan Bitcoin mining power demands could jump 5 times by 2023Fitch Ratings has previously issued warnings related to the use of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) in local economies. In August, shortly before El Salvador implemented its Bitcoin Law making the crypto asset legal tender, the agency warned of the volatility and operational risks for citizens using crypto, adding that local insurance companies would likely be hesitant to adopt BTC for claims or benefits payments.

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