Značka: united states

U.S. Congressman calls for ‘Broad, bipartisan consensus’ on important issues of digital asset policy

In a letter to the leadership of the United States House Financial Services Committee, ranking member Patrick McHenry took a jab at “inconsistent treatment and jurisdictional uncertainty” inherent in U.S. crypto regulation and called for the Committee to take on its critical issues.McHenry, a Republican representing North Carolina, opened by mentioning that the Committee’s Democrat Chairwoman Maxine Waters is looking to schedule additional hearings addressing matters pertinent to the digital asset industry. He further stressed the need for identifying and prioritizing the key issues and achieving a “broad, bipartisan consensus” on the matters affecting the industry that holds immense promise for the financial system and broader economy.Citing the confusion that the industry faces due to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) competing claims for jurisdiction over digital assets, McHenry noted that neither of their positions is grounded in statute. Congress, he maintained, should not hand digital asset regulation over to regulatory agencies or courts, but rather step in to categorize the new asset class and lay down the rules governing it.Furthermore, Congressman McHenry suggested that the Financial Services Committee take a close look at the stablecoin report drafted by the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets (PWG) and examine the Federal Reserve’s position and future steps with regard to a U.S. central bank digital currency (CBDC).In December last year, the U.S. House Financial Services Committee hosted a crypto-focused hearing that featured a strong lineup of industry executives and was widely lauded as a massively productive exchange between policymakers and digital asset stakeholders.

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McDonald’s jumps on Bitcoin memewagon, Crypto Twitter responds

Prominent crypto entrepreneurs and supporters, who shared memes on Twitter about doing odd jobs amid an ongoing market crash, were joined by global fast-food giant McDonald”s — the brand infamously linked with temporary Bitcoin (BTC) market crashes. BTC’s price has seen a steady downfall ever since breaching an all-time high of $69,000 back in November 2022. Eventually, as Bitcoin started trading below the $40,000 mark, crypto millionaires and investors on Twitter started sharing memes about getting jobs at fast-food restaurants.Source: Twitter/PlanBSalvadoran President Nayib Bukele, too, embraced the meme culture and uploaded a new profile picture that shows him at one of his speeches sporting a badly photoshopped McDonald’s branded cap and T-shirt.#NewProfilePic pic.twitter.com/YVDlBoA2Cq— Nayib Bukele (@nayibbukele) January 22, 2022Joining in on the fun with numerous others, McDonald’s acknowledged the ongoing developments within Crypto Twitter by following influential members of the community such as Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson and Altcoin Daily. The account drew more attention as it tweeted:how are you doing people who run crypto twitter accounts— McDonald’s (@McDonalds) January 24, 2022

While Binance responded to the question with a picture of a crying face hidden behind a smiling mask, McDonald’s consoled the world’s biggest crypto exchange with a “wagmi,” short for “we are gonna make it.”wagmi friend— McDonald’s (@McDonalds) January 24, 2022

Bukele, however, seems to have bigger plans in mind.Related: Bitcoin could outperform stocks in 2022 amid Fed tightening — Bloomberg analystDespite the uncertain market condition, Bloomberg commodity strategist Mike McGlone believes in the possibility of BTC’s comeback as investors recognize its value as a digital reserve asset.As Cointelegraph reported, McGlone stated:“Cryptos are tops among the risky and speculative. If risk assets decline, it helps the Fed’s inflation fight. Becoming a global reserve asset, Bitcoin may be a primary beneficiary in that scenario.”The analyst expects the “enduring trio” — BTC, Ether (ETH) and USD-pegged stablecoins — to maintain dominance throughout 2022.

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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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House members call for an end to lawmakers trading stocks — is crypto next?

Congresspeople currently HODLing or actively trading in crypto may have to stop doing so while in office if recent pushes to ban lawmakers from investing in stocks gain enough support.In a Monday letter addressed to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, 27 members of the U.S. House of Representatives called for action “to prohibit members of Congress from owning or trading stocks.” Among the bipartisan group of lawmakers who signed onto the letter was Illinois congressperson Bill Foster, who is also a member of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus. In addition, the letter seems to have support from politicians diametrically opposed on major issues like Progressive Democrat Rashida Tlaib and Republican Matt Gaetz, who is reportedly under investigation by the Justice Department for allegedly violating sex trafficking laws and obstruction of justice.Members of Congress are currently allowed to buy, sell and trade stocks and other investments while in office, but are also bound to disclose such moves by the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or STOCK Act, passed in 2012. This piece of legislation requires lawmakers to report any purchase, sale or exchange over $1,000 within 30 to 45 days but provides minimal financial and legal consequences for not filing in time. The Monday letter noted that the STOCK Act “had been violated hundreds of times just since 2020.” “It’s clear the current rules are not working,” said the letter to Pelosi and McCarthy. “Congress should close these loopholes by simply banning members from owning or trading individual stocks while in office. In addition to ensuring that members’ access to information doesn’t advantage them over the public when trading stocks, as the STOCK Act sought, this would end the potential corruption of lawmakers pursuing policy outcomes that benefit their portfolios.”The House members added:“There is no reason that members of Congress need to be allowed to trade stocks when we should be focused on doing our jobs and serving our constituents. Perhaps this means some of our colleagues will miss out on lucrative investment opportunities. We don’t care. We came to Congress to serve our country, not turn a quick buck.”Senators Jon Ossoff and Mark Kelly proposed a similar piece of legislation for the U.S. Senate on Jan. 12. Ossoff referenced a survey from the advocacy group Convention of States Action, which found that roughly 76% of voters said that lawmakers and their spouses had an “unfair advantage and should not be allowed to trade stocks while serving in Congress.”Speaker Pelosi does not seem to have responded to the letter from House members. However, when questioned about a possible ban on lawmakers being allowed to trade stocks in December, she said “we’re a free-market economy — they should be able to participate in that.”Democratic lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — whose name did not appear on the letter to Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — said in December she believed members should neither hold nor trade individual stocks, hinting that to do so would allow them to “remain impartial about policy making.” She added that she extended this belief to holding digital assets and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC). Related: House memo details Congress’ priorities ahead of crypto CEO hearingCointelegraph reported last Tuesday that seven members of Congress from both the Senate and House had declared investments in crypto during their time in office. Among lawmakers with the highest reported exposure were New Jersey Representative Jefferson Van Drew and Wyoming Senator Cynthia Lummis, who disclosed a 2020 investment of $250,000 in a trust operated by Grayscale, and a 2021 BTC purchase of up to $100,000, respectively.Cointelegraph reached out to Representative Bill Foster for comment, but did not receive a response at the time of publication.

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Law Decoded: When central banks seek public discussion, Jan. 17–24

Last week, two central banks dropped public reports that can have a sizable impact on the crypto landscape in their respective countries and beyond. The U.S. Federal Reserve published a discussion paper entitled “Money and Payments: The U.S. Dollar in the Age of Digital Transformation,” which summarizes years of the Fed’s research on CBDCs. Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Russia released a report that called for a blanket ban on domestic cryptocurrency operations and mining. Both documents are framed as an invitation for public discussion, but the kinds of discussions that they will trigger are likely to be very different.Below is the concise version of the latest “Law Decoded” newsletter. For the full breakdown of policy developments over the last week, register for the full newsletter below.The Fed: Not advancing particular policyThe authors of the Fed’s much-anticipated report make a point to note on several occasions that the paper “is not intended to advance any specific policy outcome.” Indeed, the report gives off a vibe of open-endedness and covers both risks and benefits of a potential U.S. CBDC. Specifically, it acknowledges user privacy concerns that some crypto advocates have previously voiced in the context of the potential digital dollar’s design.On Twitter, crypto-friendly members of the U.S. Senate sounded content with the document’s findings and framing. Senator Cynthia Lummis welcomed the report’s concession that the ultimate fate of the U.S. CBDC project rests with Congress:I’m pleased the Federal Reserve released their long-awaited report on central bank digital currencies this afternoon. Here’s a quick thread of my thoughts.https://t.co/UAJFIPwiqG— Senator Cynthia Lummis (@SenLummis) January 20, 2022Senator Pat Toomey called the paper a constructive contribution to the public discussion around the issuance of a CBDC.Cryptocurrencies, digital assets, and their underlying technologies offer tremendous potential benefits. As such, I’m glad the @federalreserve has constructively contributed to the necessary ongoing public discussion regarding the issuance of a CBDC. https://t.co/10ld3lfXt6— Senator Pat Toomey (@SenToomey) January 20, 2022

CBR: Ban domestic operationsIn contrast to their U.S. counterparts, Russian central bankers are very much advocating for a particular policy. They’ve suggested that investor safety and financial stability risks that cryptocurrencies pose warrant a complete ban of domestic crypto operations and mining activity, as well as introducing punishments for individuals breaching these rules. Notably, the proposed ban specifically concerns the usage of domestic financial infrastructure for crypto transactions, and during a press conference that followed the report’s publication, a Central Bank of Russia official suggested that Russian citizens would still be allowed to engage with crypto using overseas rails.The report is remarkable for making some candid points as to why the ban is needed. For one, the authors recognize that emerging economies, including Russia’s, are more susceptible to the adverse effects of crypto compared to those of developed nations. Furthermore, it states that wide adoption of crypto could undermine Russia’s monetary sovereignty and be at odds with a potential sovereign CBDC that the report passingly praises.Crypto ads: Second phase of regulation?In a series of moves that almost looked coordinated, regulators in the United Kingdom, Spain and Singapore took on cryptocurrency promotions and ads last week. While the first two mainly focused on ensuring appropriate risk disclosures, Singapore opted for a stricter stance of outlawing any and all crypto-related advertisements in public spaces. Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao questioned the capacity of these measures to limit crypto demand because of the prevalence of word-of-mouth marketing in the digital asset space.Such a shift of focus could mark the next step in the evolution of crypto regulation. Jurisdictions that have put comprehensive AML and CFT rules in place are now turning to consumer protection measures as the rapid mainstreaming of digital assets gives rise to marketing strategies that target mass audiences far beyond the tech-savvy core of early crypto adopters.

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How should DeFi be regulated? A European approach to decentralization

Decentralized finance, known as DeFi, is a new use of blockchain technology that is growing rapidly, with over $237 billion in value locked up in DeFi projects as of January 2022. Regulators are aware of this phenomenon and are beginning to act to regulate it. In this article, we briefly review the fundamentals and risks of DeFi before presenting the regulatory context.The fundamentals of DeFiDeFi is a set of alternative financial systems based on the blockchain that allows for more advanced financial operations than the simple transfer of value, such as currency exchange, lending or borrowing, in a decentralized manner, i.e., directly between peers, without going through a financial intermediary (a centralized exchange, for example).Schematically, a protocol called a DApp (for decentralized application), such as Uniswap or Aave, is developed in open source code on a public blockchain such as Ethereum. This protocol is powered by smart contracts, i.e., contracts that are executed automatically when certain conditions are met. For example, on the Uniswap DApp, it is possible to exchange money between two cryptocurrencies in the Ethereum ecosystem, thanks to the smart contracts designed to perform this operation automatically.Users are incentivized to bring in liquidity, as they receive a portion of the transaction fee. As for lending and borrowing, smart contracts allow those who want to lend their funds to make them available to borrowers and borrowers to directly borrow the money made available by guaranteeing the loan with collateral (or not). The exchange and interest rates are determined by supply and demand and arbitrated between the DApps.The great particularity of DeFi protocols is that there is no centralized institution in charge of verifying and carrying out the transactions. All transactions are performed on the blockchain and are irreversible. Smart contracts replace the intermediary role of centralized financial institutions. The code of DeFi applications is open source, which allows users to verify the protocols, build on them and make copies.The risks of DeFiBlockchain gives more power to the individual. But with more power comes more responsibility. The risks DeFi are of several kinds: Technological risks. DeFi protocols are dependent on the blockchains on which they are built, and blockchains can experience attacks (known as “51% attacks”), bugs and network congestion problems that slow down transactions, making them more costly or even impossible. The DeFi protocols, themselves, are also the target of cyberattacks, such as the exploitation of a protocol-specific bug. Some attacks are at the intersection of technology and finance. These attacks are carried out through “flash loans.” These are loans of tokens without collateral that can then be used to influence the price of the tokens and make a profit, before quickly repaying the loan.Financial risks. The cryptocurrency market is very volatile and a rapid price drop can occur. Liquidity can run out if everyone withdraws their cryptocurrencies from liquidity pools at the same time (a “bank run” scenario). Some malicious developers of DeFi protocols have “back doors” that allow them to appropriate the tokens locked in the smart contracts and thus steal from users (this phenomenon is called “rug-pull”).Regulatory risks. Regulatory risks are even greater because the reach of DeFi is global, peer-to-peer transactions are generally anonymous, and there are no identified intermediaries (most often). As we will see below, two topics are particularly important for the regulator: the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, on the one hand, and consumer protection, on the other.The FATF “test”: Truly decentralized?As of Oct. 28, 2021, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) issued its latest guidance on digital assets. This international organization sought to define rules for identifying responsible actors in DeFi projects by proposing a test to determine whether DeFi operators should be subject to the Virtual Asset Service Provider or “VASP” regime. This regime imposes, among other things, Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Terrorist Financing (CFT) obligations.The FATF had initially considered, last March, that if the decentralized application (the DApp) is not a VASP, the entities “involved” in the application may be, which is the case when “the entities engage as a business to facilitate or conduct activities” on the DApp.The new FATF guidance drops the term “facilitate” and instead adopts a more functional “owner/operator” criterion, whereby “creators, owners, and operators … who retain control or influence” over the DApp may be VASPs even though the project may appear decentralized.Related: FATF guidance on virtual assets: NFTs win, DeFi loses, rest remains unchangedFATF, under the new “owner/operator” test, states that indicia of control include exercising control over the project or maintaining an ongoing relationship with users. The test is this:Does a person or entity have control over the assets or the protocol itself?Does a person or entity have “a commercial relationship between it and customers, even if exercised through a smart contract”?Does a person or entity profit from the service provided to customers?Are there other indications of an owner/operator?FATF makes clear that a state must interpret the test broadly. It adds:”Owners/operators should undertake ML/TF [money laundering and terrorist financing] risk assessments prior to the launch or use of the software or platform and take appropriate measures to manage and mitigate these risks in an ongoing and forward-looking manner.”The FATF even states that, if there is no “owner/operator,” states may require a regulated VASP to be “involved” in DeFi project-related activities… Only if a DeFi project is completely decentralized, i.e., fully automated and outside the control of an owner/operator, is it not a VASP under the latest FATF guidance.It is regrettable that a principle of neutrality of blockchain networks has not been established, similar to the principle of neutrality of networks and technical intermediaries of the internet (established by the European directive on electronic commerce more than 20 ago).Indeed, the purely technical developers of DeFi solutions often do not have the physical possibility to perform the checks imposed by the AML/CFT procedures in the design of current DApps. The new FATF guidance will likely require DApp developers to put in Know Your Customer (KYC) portals before users can use the DApps.Application of security law?We are all familiar with the legal debate that has become classic when it comes to qualifying a token: Is it a utility token, now subject to the regulation of digital assets (ICOs and VASPs), or is it a security token that is likely to be governed by financial law?We know that the approach is very different in the United States where the Securities Exchange Commission (by applying the famous “Howey Test”) qualifies tokens as securities that would be seen as digital assets in Europe. Their approach is, therefore, more severe, and this will certainly result in more prosecutions of “owners” of DeFi platforms in the U.S. than in Europe.Thus, if DeFi services do not involve digital assets, but tokenized financial securities as defined by the European Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID Directive), the rules for investment services providers (ISPs) will have to be applied. In Europe, this will be a rare case as the tokens traded would have to be actual financial securities (company shares, debt or investment fund units).Related: Collateral damage: DeFi’s ticking time bombHowever, national regulations are likely to apply. For example, in France, it will be necessary to determine whether the regulation on intermediaries in various goods (Article L551-1 of the Monetary Code and following) applies to liquidity pools.Indeed, pools allow clients to acquire rights on intangible assets and put forward a financial return. Theoretically, it would no longer be excluded that the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) decides to apply this regime. As a consequence, an information document will have to be approved by the AMF before any marketing.However, in practice, there is not one person who proposes the investment, but a multitude of users of the DApp who bring their liquidity in a smart contract coded in open source. This brings us back to the test proposed by the FATF: Is there an “owner” of the platform who can be held accountable for compliance with the regulations?The MiCA regulationOn November 24, the European Council decided its position on the “Regulation on Cryptoasset Markets” (MiCA), before submitting it to the European Parliament. It is expected that this fundamental text for the cryptosphere will be adopted by the end of 2022 (if all goes well…).The draft EU regulation is based on a centralized approach by identifying a provider responsible for operations for each service, which does not work for a decentralized exchange platform (like Uniswap) or a decentralized stablecoin.Related: Europe awaits implementation of regulatory framework for crypto assetsWe should think about a legal system that takes into account the automated and decentralized nature of systems based on blockchain, so as not to impose obligations on operators who do not have the material possibility of respecting them or who run the risk of hindering innovation by removing the reason for progress: decentralization.Europe has already shown itself capable of subtle arbitration in matters of technological regulation if we refer in particular to the proposal for a European Union regulation on artificial intelligence. This approach could serve as a source of inspiration.Regardless of the balance chosen by the regulator, investors should become as informed as possible and pay attention to the technological, financial and compliance risks before undertaking a DeFi transaction.As for DeFi application developers and service providers in this field, they must remain attentive to regulatory developments and cultivate a culture of transparency in their operations to anticipate regulatory risk as much as possible.This article was co-authored by Thibault Verbiest and Jérémy Fluxman.This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the authors’ alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.Thibault Verbiest, an attorney in Paris and Brussels since 1993, is a partner with Metalaw, where he heads the department dedicated to fintech, digital banking and crypto finance. He is the co-author of several books, including the first book on blockchain in French. He acts as an expert with the European Blockchain Observatory and Forum and the World Bank. Thibault is also an entrepreneur, as he co-founded CopyrightCoins and Parabolic Digital. In 2020, he became chairman of the IOUR Foundation, a public utility foundation aimed at promoting the adoption of a new internet, merging TCP/IP and blockchain. Jérémy Fluxman has been an associate at international law firms in Paris and Luxembourg in the fields of private equity and investment funds, as well as at a Monaco law firm since 2017. He holds a master II in international business law and is currently an associate at the Metalaw firm in Paris, France where he advises on fintech, blockchain and crypto-finance.

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Fed issues discussion paper on benefits and risks of a digital dollar

The U.S. Federal Reserve is opening comments to the public after releasing a discussion paper on the pros and cons of a potential central bank digital currency.In a publication released Thursday titled “​​Money and Payments: The U.S. Dollar in the Age of Digital Transformation”, the Fed said it would likely not be authorized to issue digital wallets or accounts capable of holding a U.S. central bank digital currency, or CBDC, but rather leave such matters to the private sector. In addition, the government body said it would be considering privacy concerns, whether a CBDC could be “readily transferable between customers of different intermediaries,” and identity verification to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.The paper added that the U.S. rolling out a CBDC could mitigate the risks of “proliferation of private digital money” while still encouraging innovation in the private sector, leveling the playing field between large and small firms for whom some of the costs of issuing their own digital currency may be prohibitive. Cross border payments, the speed and efficiency of digital payments, and additional financial inclusion are all among the potential benefits of a digital dollar. “A CBDC could fundamentally change the structure of the U.S. financial system, altering the roles and responsibilities of the private sector and the central bank,” said the Fed paper. “Some have suggested that, if these new CBDCs were more attractive than existing forms of the U.S. dollar, global use of the dollar could decrease — and a U.S. CBDC might help preserve the international role of the dollar.”Regarding the risks in introducing a digital dollar to the U.S. and world economies, the Fed said that a CBDC could effectively replace commercial bank money, raising prices for retail customers and driving interest away from investments in “mutual funds, Treasury bills, and other short-term instruments.” The paper also repeated some of the concerns previously raised by officials on the stability of the current financial system, such as how the Fed might need to increase its reserves based on demand for a digital currency, and striking t balance between user privacy and transparency needed to prevent fraud.To that end, the Fed is opening up comments to the public for 120 days — until May 20 — asking concerned citizens to address 22 questions related to the possible rollout of a digital dollar’s benefits, risks, design and policy considerations: “The Federal Reserve will only take further steps toward developing a CBDC if research points to benefits for households, businesses, and the economy overall that exceed the downside risks, and indicates that CBDC is superior to alternative methods. Furthermore, the Federal Reserve would only pursue a CBDC in the context of broad public and cross-governmental support.”First announced by Fed chair Jerome Powell in May 2021 to be released last summer, the publication of the CBDC discussion paper has been delayed several times. On Jan. 11 during his testimony to members of the Senate Banking Committee, Powell said that the paper would be coming in a matter of weeks following delays due to “changes in monetary policy.”Related: Digital dollar needs broad consensus among authorities, says US Treasury SecretaryThough a notice from the Fed stated the discussion paper “does not favor any policy outcome,” Powell has previously suggested there was no rush in the U.S. releasing a digital dollar despite other countries, including China, moving ahead with trials in different cities. Athletes are expected to travel to China for the 2022 Winter Olympics in a few weeks when competitors and visitors will have the opportunity to use the country’s digital yuan.

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Former Binance US CEO Catherine Coley is still missing, and no one seems to be talking

Around the time Binance.US announced former Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks would be leading the crypto exchange, former CEO Catherine Coley effectively dropped off the face of the digital world.Coley, who had regularly posted updates on Binance.US and her personal life to her Twitter account, has been inactive on the social media platform since April 19. Her job experience on LinkedIn ends with her two years as CEO of Binance.US, which she left in June 2021, and her online silence has led at least one news outlet to reach out to San Francisco authorities to determine if she had been reported missing — as of October, the answer was “no.”Major figures in crypto also noticed the absence of Coley. Ripple chief technology officer David Schwartz said in July that the former Binance.US CEO had not responded to his messages, but he had not tried to reach her by calling. Sam Fischer, a representative for Binance.US, told Cointelegraph said that the exchange had no information on Coley “beyond the fact that she left Binance.US.”Related: Most Crypto Users Think QuadrigaCX CEO Faked Own DeathNaturally, rumors have been floating around Crypto Twitter, speculating that Coley has met an untimely end, is alive and well and vacationing in Puerto Rico, or is forced to be quiet due to some kind of unsorted legal matter related to her departure from Binance.US — none of which Cointelegraph has been able to confirm. One of her last public statements on social media in April reported high levels of traffic on Binance.US, but she also addressed attendees of the LA Blockchain Summit in October 2020. Curious… Has anyone heard from Catherine Coley? We had a conversation last December before she left but nothing since and I have tried. I along with others have expressed concern about what happened to her. She also has listed her 2 yr experience with Ripple. I pray she’s okay.— Jackie P (@JackieP323) September 20, 2021Before her disappearance, Coley was one of the most prominent names in the crypto space. As a young female leader of a major exchange, she made Forbes Magazine’s list of 40 under 40 as an influential entrepreneur in 2020. Cointelegraph reached out to Catherine Coley, but did not receive a response at the time of publication.

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SEC rejects Skybridge's application for spot Bitcoin ETF

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, has officially disapproved the application for First Trust SkyBridge’s spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund after several deferments.In a Thursday filing, the SEC rejected a proposed rule change from the New York Stock Exchange, or NYSE, Arca to list and trade shares of the First Trust SkyBridge Bitcoin ETF Trust. The SEC said any rule change in favor of approving the ETF would not be “‘designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices” nor “protect investors and the public interest.”The decision follows SkyBridge first applying to list a Bitcoin ETF on the NYSE in March 2021. The SEC twice designated a longer period to approve or disapprove the proposed rule change for the ETF in July and November before reaching its decision on Thursday.In its rejection, the SEC said that the NYSE had not met the requirements of listing a financial product under its rules of practice as well as those of the Exchange Act. Under these restrictions, exchanges seeking to list a BTC ETF need to have “a comprehensive surveillance-sharing agreement with a regulated market of significant size related to the underlying or reference Bitcoin assets.” The NYSE Arca used a $10 million market order example to claim that buying and selling large amounts of Bitcoin (BTC) would have an “insignificant market impact.” The exchange also hinted at Tesla’s $1.5 billion BTC purchase in February as an example of gaining exposure to crypto through the company’s shares, arguing for the need for a different investment vehicle with exposure to BTC as opposed to “imperfect Bitcoin proxies,” which provide only “partial Bitcoin exposure paired with additional risks.”The commission rejected these claims, citing similar reasons for disapproving Bitcoin spot ETFs from asset manager VanEck in November and WisdomTree in December. To date, the SEC has not approved any ETF with direct exposure to crypto but has given the greenlight to offerings linked to BTC futures, including ones from ProShares and Valkyrie. Related: ETFs listed — What’s next for Bitcoin?A separate decision for a Bitcoin ETF application from the New York Digital Investment Group, or NYDIG, is expected by March 16. The application is still under review after being delayed on Saturday.

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Binance US officially launches trading services in Connecticut

United States cryptocurrency exchange Binance US, which operates separately from the global Binance platform, has officially opened its trading services to residents of Connecticut. Beginning Jan. 20, Connecticut residents can register to buy, sell and trade digital assets such as Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) on the Binance US platform, the company announced Thursday. Residents will also have access to the Binance US mobile app on Android and Apple devices. Binance US launched in 2019 to provide regulated crypto trading services to residents of the United States. Currently, the trading platform is approved to operate in 44 U.S. states and intends to secure approvals across all 50 states and territories. Binance US CEO Brian Shroder said his firm’s expansion reflects the growing demand for digital assets in the country. A new survey of Americans conducted by crypto platform Voyager Digital seems to corroborate that view. According to the survey, nearly two-thirds, or 61%, of Americans may purchase digital assets this year. Fifty percent of the survey participants said they would invest more in cryptocurrencies if they understood the asset class better. Related: Crypto mainstream adoption: Is it here already? Experts answer, Part 3Meanwhile, separate data from Arcane Research shows that the United States is dominating the Bitcoin trading arena. So far this year, U.S. trading hours account for 43% of Bitcoin’s average 24-hour trading volumes.Binance US wants to go public on the US stock market. Amid a myriad of regulatory concerns across the globe, is this a good idea for the brand? https://t.co/sREkorqjUh— Cointelegraph (@Cointelegraph) July 25, 2021As Cointelegraph reported, Binance US is eyeing a “mega funding” deal through an initial public offering. Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao expressed confidence in the U.S. firm’s ability to raise the funds even after investors reportedly backed out a similar initiative last summer over regulatory concerns.

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SEC Advisory Committee member calls agency to open for public comment on crypto regulation

Associate law professor and member of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Investor Advisory Committee J.W. Verret is calling for the government agency to open for public comment in regards to digital asset regulation.In a petition addressed to SEC Secretary Vanessa Countryman, Verret said opening the floor to comments on digital assets could function as a Genesis Block for the SEC to reform its regulations on digital assets. Verret said he was a holder of Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), and “a number of layer 1 and layer 2 tokens readily available on top tier exchanges,” and was concerned how the SEC could potentially crack down on tokens it currently does not consider securities.“Under the SEC’s ‘strategically ambiguous’ interpretation of the Howey test regarding classification of investment contracts, I cannot be certain that the SEC will not in the future target one of my token holdings, under the guise of the Commission’s investor protection mission, in a manner that would ultimately cause me significant losses as a property owner,” said Verret. “This open call for comment is the only way to appropriately crowd source this issue and appropriately develop a digital asset regulation Genesis Block.”I filed a reg petition with the SEC to open a call for public comment re: digital asset regulation. There are nuances that SEC ignores in their speeches and “Howey” threats. Let’s crowd source this and start a genesis block for 21st century reg. https://t.co/lZQXPeqq93— Prof. J.W. Verret, JD, CPA/CFF, CVA, CFE (@JWVerret) January 18, 2022Since the 1940s, the SEC has used the Howey Test to determine whether certain assets qualify as “investment contracts” and are considered securities. Many experts consider the SEC’s 2017 DAO Report, in which it said that digital assets could indeed qualify, as one of the most significant regulatory moments for cryptocurrencies in the United States.Citing his experience as a law professor, Verret implied that the SEC’s application of the Howey Test on digital assets was inconsistent from the language used in the Supreme Court decision, potentially leading to cases that could result in the highest court overturning the 1946 case: “The SEC’s present course appears to be one designed to strategically bring cases using the Howey test as a weapon against tokens (and token trading services and technologies) which cannot reasonably be registered as securities (or securities exchanges) under the regulations promulgated pursuant to the ‘33 and ‘34 Acts, even if they wanted to and were required to do so (despite neither necessarily being true). I believe this is ultimately a losing strategy for the SEC as an institution.”According to Verret, the current regulatory path the SEC is taking seems not to recognize that “digital assets, by their very design, do not fit within the classic framework of regulations designed for equity investments in firms led by boards of directors.” The law professor also criticized SEC chair Gary Gensler’s approach of asking crypto projects to “come in and talk to us,” saying many could be concerned that “engaging with the SEC may make their project the next enforcement target of the SEC.”In his call for the SEC to open for public comment “to establish a core Digital Asset Regulation Genesis Block,” Verret suggested having the agency address investor protections around crypto, where blockchain-based tokens in decentralized projects could fall within current securities regulations, how federal securities laws might take into account “unique aspects of token offerings,” and Commissioner Hester Peirce’s proposal for a three-year safe harbor for certain crypto projects. In addition, he called for a question on what requirements the SEC will consider in approving a Bitcoin spot exchange-traded fund. Related: US lawmaker proposes safe harbor for digital tokens in new billWhile the agency has given the green light to BTC futures-linked ETFs, it has repeatedly rejected applications from companies seeking ETFs with direct exposure to crypto. ProShares launched the first BTC futures-linked ETF in the United States on the New York Stock Exchange in October, with a similar crypto investment product from Valkyrie later launching on the Nasdaq.“All five SEC Commissioners have a unique opportunity to stake this development with their own priorities via the design of the call for comment,” said Verret. “This Digital Asset Reg Genesis Block can commence an interactive process that can make securities regulation more flexible, more robust, and ultimately better protect investors.”

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NCFTA onboards crypto exchange Binance to fight against cybercrime

The National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA), an American non-profit, onboarded its first crypto firm Binance to aid their ongoing battle against cybercrimes. Founded in 2002, the NCFTA partners with law enforcement and various business and academic entities to source threat intelligence to identify and mitigate cybercrime threats. By partnering with Binance, the world’s biggest crypto exchange in terms of trading volume, the NCFTA aims to tackle international cybersecurity investigations. According to Binance’s VP of Global Intelligence and Investigations, Tigran Gambaryan, the exchange aims to be the leading contributor in the fight against cybercrime, ransomware, and terrorism financing:“Joining the NCFTA is an important step in our joint fight against cybercrime, securing the cryptocurrency ecosystem for the entire community.”Through this partnership, Binance will gain access to NCFTA’s dedicated team of analysts along with trends related to emerging and real-time threats. The crypto exchange has also set up an in-house team to tackle blockchain and cryptocurrency fraud, namely the Binance Investigations Group. According to the press release:“To date, Binance has cooperated with hundreds of criminal investigations, which have led to high-profile arrests, including a cybercriminal group laundering $500M in ransomware proceeds.”Gambaryan also believes that securing the crypto ecosystem against cyber threats requires strong cooperation between law enforcement, government agencies and players within the ecosystem.Related: Pakistan to investigate Binance for multi-million dollar crypto scamOn Jan. 9, Pakistan‘s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) issued a formal notice to Binance to identify links around a multi-million crypto scam in the region.KARACHI: Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has detected an online fraud of Rs100 billion using a cryptocurrency and issued notice to the local representative of Binance, @cz_binance @binance @BinanceHelpDesk @BinanceUS pic.twitter.com/3oukwzmDqh— Innocent Pashteen✌ (@FighterDawar) January 7, 2022As Cointelegraph reported, the Pakistani government received numerous complaints against an ongoing scam that involved misleading investors into sending funds from Binance wallets to unknown third-party wallets — sparking a criminal investigation. Speaking to Cointelegraph, a Binance spokesperson confirmed the exchange’s intent to cooperate with the local authorities:“User protection is a top priority for us at Binance. Our law enforcement team also works closely with agencies and governments around the world to help educate teams on tackling financial crimes.”

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