Bancor to Restrict Access to US-based Traders

Decentralized cryptocurrency exchange (DEX) Bancor has announced that it stop providing its trading service to US-based clients.

Bancor Stops Servicing the U.S.

According to the announcement, a lack of clarity from regulators is the main reason behind the decision to ban all users with a U.S. IP address from exchanging digital currencies.

“US citizens, domiciliaries or users from US IPs will no longer be able to use Bancor’s web application, https://www.bancor.network, to convert tokens,” the announcement noted. “This decision has been made in light of increased regulatory uncertainty; at this time, we believe this is the most judicious decision for all the members of our ecosystem.”

Bancor runs as a decentralized protocol using a peer-to-peer (P2P) architecture. This is the latest development in the uncertain regulatory market for decentralized trading applications.

Previously, DEX Ether Delta’s founder was charged with operating an unregistered exchange, resulting in a fine of $300,000. It’s not clear what the regulator requirements are for firms offering decentralized financial services, in which users trade peer-to-peer.

The company also clarified that any clients, who have been identified as US citizens and not staying in the country, cannot use its trading services, while people from overseas staying in the US can still trade on the platform.

“We would like to clarify that this functionality will be blocked to users accessing the website bancor.network, which offers an interface to blockchain activity. As the Bancor Liquidity Network is a collection of smart contracts on the blockchain, and a non-custodial system, we cannot restrict users from accessing the blockchain itself. This cannot be blocked.”

U.S. Being Excluded From Several Platforms

The non-existent regulatory guidelines from official institutions in the U.S. are forcing many cryptocurrency companies to stop servicing the region. Recently, Binance one of the largest crypto exchanges in terms of trading volume, announced that it will halt trading in the U.S. starting September 12th.

Another U.S.-based crypto exchange, Poloniex, delisted nine digital currencies from its trading platform only for US-based clients, citing the same unclear regulations. It is expected that the SEC and other financial regulators in the U.S. are preparing a regulatory framework that will see many digital currencies classified as securities.

New international recommendations from the Financial Action Task Force, set for publication this week, will place stringent new ID requirements on any entity facilitating cryptocurrency trading, both in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Facebook Unveils Its Cryptocurrency – Libra

After months of anticipation, Facebook has unveiled its cryptocurrency – Libra. The social media giant has released the white paper for the cryptocurrency and blockchain-based financial infrastructure project.

Multi-Asset Stablecoin

The aim of Libra is to provide users across the globe with easy access to financial infrastructure with seamless transactions with low fees. According to the paper, Libra will operate on the native and scalable Libra blockchain, and be backed by a reserve of assets designed to mitigate volatility fluctuations.

Reserves, which back Libra, will consist of a collection of low-volatility assets like bank deposits and government securities in currencies like USD, GBP, EUR, and JPY. Libra is not pegged to a single currency and does not have a fixed value in any fiat currency.

Libra will also issue a security token called Libra Investment Token as a way to fund incentive programs and cover operating costs. They will be only available to accredited investors as securities. Holders can earn potential profits from interest on the reserves.

Governed via Libra Association

While the reserve assets are held by a geographically distributed network of custodians in order to maintain a degree of decentralization, the reserve is managed by the Libra Association, which is the only party able to mint and destroy the coin.

Libra’s governing body, the Libra Association, is a non-profit based in Geneva, which will eventually have 100 geographically diverse founding members. The current founding members include Uber, PayPal, Visa and investment house Andreessen Horowitz (a16z).

Among the payments giants, a number of NGOs are involved in the Libra Association, including Creative Destruction Lab, Kiva, Mercy Corps and Women’s World Banking. To become a Social Impact Partner, participating non-profits must have a five-year track record of poverty alleviation work, including digital financial inclusion initiatives in the field and an operating budget of greater than $50 million.

Calibra – The Wallet

Besides Libra, the currency and network, Facebook has also unveiled Calibra – the digital wallet for the network. As part of its services, Calibra intends to follow various anti-money-laundering and know-your-customer regulations in the jurisdictions in which it conducts business.

Calibra registered as a money service business with the U.S. Department of Treasury and is now working to acquire money transmitter licenses in U.S. states that treat digital currencies as the equivalent of money.

Libra cryptocurrency and the underlying blockchain network are set to launch next year. The testnet will be released in the coming weeks. The developers will be able to build, provide feedback, and take part in a bug bounty program.

Japan Manufacturers to Use Blockchain in Data Sharing Initiative

100 manufacturers in Japan are set to be part of an initiative that implements blockchain technology to cut operating costs and improve performance, according to Nikkei Asian Review.

The companies will share production data among themselves through a common digital ledger; including information about product design, production equipment and quality inspections. Blockchain technology will underpin the platform with the aim to ensure information remains secure. Another benefit of the novel technology is a more efficient processing speed of information and data.

Manufacturers have always had a protective stance on data gathered at their factories because it contains know-how directly linked to competitiveness. With the information security provided by the ledger, companies are expected to start collaborating in a mutually beneficial way. The project will allow participants decide what data to share, who to share it with, as well as whether to charge a fee for the information.

The project, initiated by the Industrial Value Chain – an organization formed by manufacturers interested in the internet of things (IoT) – is expected to launch in spring 2020.

Renowned manufacturers like Mitsubishi Electric, Yaskawa Electric, as well as DMG Mori are expected to join. The project aims to augment Japan’s manufacturing sector as a whole by collaborating not only with big corporations with advanced production technologies but also smaller manufacturers that are unable to invest large amounts in research and development.

Sharing production and manufacturing data in a secure and efficient way can help a lot of factories optimize their work flow improving output. For example, parts suppliers could begin mass production faster if an electronics manufacturer shares the data from computerized numerical control machine tools.

If machine tool makers and their clients share equipment usage data, they could gain a better grasp of how parts wear out and maintain the gear more efficiently. They also may be able to predict when machines will break down so that parts can be exchanged in advance, reducing downtime.

Moreover, the distributed ledger technology is expected to lower the risk of data leaks compared with managing the information on servers, as well as reduce operating costs.

Binance.com Closes Doors to Restricted Jurisdictions

The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange platform Binance has announced it is updating its internal policies.

The global crypto exchange announced Friday morning that it was reviewing user accounts to confirm they follow Binance’s terms of use and know-your-customer (KYC) procedures and will consequently remove deposit and trading permissions for anyone in violation of its policies.

The updated statement in Binance’s Terms of Use notably reads that the company is unable to provide services to any U.S. person.

The news follows after Binance announced it was formally launching a separate, fully regulated fiat-to-crypto platform for the U.S. market. Prior to this, the exchange stated it would strengthen its compliance and security practices through a number of partnerships, most notably with software provider Chainalysis and KYC/AML tool provider IdentityMind.

According to the news, the company has stated that it “constantly reviews user accounts to improve our platform security and to comply with global compliance requirements.” It is further added that users may be required to provide evidence that shows that their account registrations are consistent with the company’s Terms of Use. The exchange will not continue serving users who are found to have been in violation of terms and conditions or unable to provide evidence that states otherwise.

The exchange further stated that users who are not in accordance with Binance’s Terms of Use by September 12 will continue to have access to their wallets and funds, but will no longer be able to trade or deposit on Binance.com.

Previously, Binance listed 15 countries and six U.S. states (including New York) on a restricted countries list page. At any given month, Binance.com receives approx. 15% of traffic coming from U.S. customers, having halved since early 2018 when the figure was approximately 30%. It currently offers trading of more than 150 different cryptocurrencies.

In a tweet published yesterday, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao said of the new exchange’s evolving global structure:

“Some short term pains may be necessary for long term gains. And we always work hard to turn every short term pain into a long term gain.”

Whilst Binance traditionally offers crypto-to-crypto trading, it has already launched fiat-to-crypto exchanges in Uganda, Singapore, and Jersey, all of which only support trading of Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), and BNB. It has plans to have two fiat-to-crypto exchanges on every continent, which will likely also only support trading of BTC and ETH primarily.

IBM and Maersk Test Blockchain Shipping Platform in Russia

A blockchain-based shipping platform built by IBM and Danish logistics giant Maersk is ready to officially launch in Russia. Russian authorities have signed an agreement with Maersk to launch blockchain shipping platform – TradeLens, according to a press release on June 6th.

The platform has been designed with the goal to facilitate international trade and as part of the agreement, the port in St. Petersburg will pilot the blockchain-powered logistics tool co-developed by Maersk’s tech subsidiary Maersk GTD and global tech giant IBM.

According to the press release, the agreement was signed on June 5th in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Maersk CEO Søren Skou and Yuriy Tsvetkov, Deputy Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation and Head of the Federal Marine and River Transport Agency.

At the signing of the MoU last week, Yuriy Tsvetkov had noted:

“The main result of the implementation of TradeLens, according to our expectations, should be an increase in the transparency of the contracting procedure by distributing information about supply and demand, conditions and operations between many participants of the transport and logistics processes.”

Subsequently, the agreement facilitates the launch of TradeLens across all of Russia, aiming to replace the current paper-based shipping industry operations with blockchain-powered digital documentation.

The shipping platform will allow container logistics industry participants to share shipping transaction data, with member companies serving as nodes to support the blockchain system. Maersk has revealed that the TradeLens platform now includes over 100 participants and currently processes 10 million global shipping events each week.

The logistics giant stated that the project aims to facilitate interactions between shippers and regulatory and administrative entities in the country, ultimately increasing the speed of cargo clearance and movement of goods across borders.

Mike White, CEO and head of TradeLens for Maersk GTD claims that the platform will bring full transparency of cargo moves, whilst also enabling seamless, secure sharing of real-time actionable supply chain information to all involved participants.

Whilst TradeLens had been struggling to pick up major shipping collaborators, partly due to the way the venture was set up to favor the founding firms, changes in the business structure have lead to two major global shipping firms coming aboard in late May. The new additions are Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), the second largest after Maersk; and CMA-CGM, the fourth largest in terms of cargo carrying capacity.