Coinbase Receives E-Money License in the EU

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has been granted an e-money license by the Central Bank of Ireland.

The news was published via a company blog, Coinbase UK CEO Zeeshan Feroz stating that the exchange is one of the very first firms to be granted the license from the central bank, following a Dublin office opening a year ago. He further stated that the license will enable Coinbase to process payments, issue e-money, and handle electronic money wallets.

In addition to that, the new license will help Coinbase expand its Irish operations, as well as help open up European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) markets for Coinbase customers. The development will also allow the San Francisco-based exchange to operate under their legal entity name.

According to a company statement:

“Europe represents a huge opportunity for Coinbase and today’s announcement is another positive step for us in the region. The approval from the Central Bank of Ireland will now enable us to expand our Irish operation and deliver a better product to customers across some of our fastest-growing markets. It will also allow us to secure passporting for our customers across the EU and EEA. “

Following the news, state-sponsored business development agency IDA Ireland – whose aim is to attract foreign investment to Ireland – asserted that this development is a net positive for the local financial industry.

CEO Mike Shanahan has explained that the exchange’s choice for a Dublin office reinforced the strength of Ireland as a hub for financial services companies, all the while providing a consistent, certain, pro-enterprise policy environment for businesses to grow and thrive.

The cryptocurrency exchange was granted a U.K. e-money license by the Financial Conduct Authority in March 2018, allowing the exchange to operate as a money service in the country.

Although the U.K. is still an EU member state, due to the impending Brexit it could affect Coinbase’s market reach. If it goes ahead, the separation would render Coinbase’s local license of limited benefit.

Earlier this month, Coinbase gained access to the UK’s Faster Payment Scheme via ClearBank following a separation with banking partner Barclays, which at that time temporarily caused deposit and withdrawal issues for users.

Bittrex Deploys Chainalysis Software for Transaction Flagging

Bittrex, the U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange, has partnered with compliance firm Chainalysis to deploy its real-time monitoring software for transactions to flag suspicious activity across blockchains.

Chainalysis’ software titled KYT (Know Your Transaction) covers blockchains of the biggest coins – Bitcoin, Ether, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, DAI, among other cryptocurrencies traded on Bittrex.

Chainalysis KYT allows the exchange to monitor large volumes of cryptocurrency activity and identify high risk transactions on a continuous basis. Using real-time data with alerts and filters for level of risk exposure, Bittrex can identify transactions that require the most immediate attention.

Even though Bittrex is already compliant with U.S. regulations, Chief Compliance and Ethics Officer John Roth explains that Chainalysis’ software provides a different but necessary insight by leveraging their existing knowledge and expertise.

“Having real-time information coming in from which we can make risk decisions is really an amazing step forward, and frankly one that’s not available to traditional financial institutions,” Roth said.

Bittrex’s adoption of Chainalysis KYT comes after the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in June advised its 37 member countries to begin tracking complete customer details on every transaction handled within 12 months.

Chainalysis KYT automates the assessment of money laundering risk, helping exchanges like Bittrex meet regulatory demands. The software currently covers 25 cryptocurrencies, which representing represents the majority of trading volume, while the company will continue to onboard additional cryptocurrencies in the near future.

The key feature is the automation of the process that helps high-volume exchanges stay compliant in an efficient way. Jonathan Levin, Chainalysis’ chief security officer, said KYT automates much of Bittrex’s review process.

“The key to supporting a large exchange like Bittrex is building features that enable them to automate their compliance process, prioritize their workflow, and customize their alerts to speed up how fast they can do due diligence,” Levin said.

While the software flags transactions with the highest risk, a Bittrex compliance analyst still needs to determine if the threat is valid and file a suspicious activity report with regulators. Bittrex’s compliance team also participated in rigorous training by Chainalysis, which provided advanced techniques in risk management workflow.

Binance.US Launched with BNB Listed on the Platform

The U.S. branch of cryptocurrency giant exchange Binance has announced the opening of accounts for registration and deposits, expected this Wednesday.

Accordingly, U.S. citizens living in New York, Washington, Florida as well as ten other states, will not be able to access the platform’s services.

The Binance.US launch comes with certain limitations to citizens of 13 States, who are not being supported at the time of platform launch. These states are New York, Texas, Washington, Alaska, Florida, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Vermont, and North Carolina. Binance stated that although the 13 states are currently excluded, the company is working to provide access to digital assets for all U.S. citizen in the near future.

Meanwhile, starting from Wednesday, US citizens – with a few exceptions – will be able to deposit Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), XRP, Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), Tether (USDT), USD into the exchange.

However, a spokesperson at Binance U.S. has added that the exchange expects more cryptocurrencies to be added in the coming weeks provided that they pass Binance.US’s Digital Asset Risk Assessment Framework.

In order to access the platform, users will have to enter their social security number and their driver’s license or passport. In addition to that, according to the announcement, there would be no trading fees until November 1st. After that, trading fees will be 0.1% per trade, whilst corporate accounts will see charges vary depending on their trading volume.

In a surprising twist, Binance Coin (BNB) will also be added to the exchange. Prior to this, Binance’s native coin was left off the original list of coins to be added—although it has been an integral part of all of Binance’s exchanges so far.

According to the news, BUSD, will be added at a later date, despite getting backing from NYFDS, one of the toughest financial regulators in the country.
Following a blog post announcing the launch of the registrations, Coley explained that the U.S. rollout is to be “gradual” with 13 states not supported at launch.

She further said:

“Although it is upsetting that we cannot offer Binance.US in the states where I grew up and earned my education at this time, please rest assured that this is just the beginning, and it is our mission to bring access to those of you in these states many of us call home.”

Binance users who want to use Binance.US will have to transfer their funds to Binance U.S., as the platform is separate from Binance.com, and is operated by BAM. In regards to cybercrime, the platform will go the extra mile, as security issues are being taken very seriously by Binance.

The new launch comes after stateside users of its global platform Binance.com were barred from trading back in June. The company did not provide reasons for the restriction at the time, but it was almost certainly over regulatory concerns.

User who already have deposits with Binance.com will not see their funds automatically transferred to the U.S. platform, according to Coley. This is due tot he fact that Binance.US is a separate entity operated by BAM Trading Services, which is registered with the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in the U.S. Digital assets pertaining to U.S. users will also be store in Binance.US wallets

Binance Announces Investment in Crypto Chinese Media Outlet Mars Finance

Cryptocurrency exchange giant Binance Holdings Ltd. has made a strategic investment in a Chinese media cryptocurrency and blockchain-focused news website Mars Finance.

According to news, the investment amount has not been disclosed; however it scored the company a valuation of $200 million.

The startup has previously raised two funding rounds and is backed by IDG Capital and the venture subsidiaries of OKCoin and Huobi. Aside from Binance, the latest funding round has included other investors such as included Ceyuan Ventures and Matrixport, the financial services startup created by Bitmain Technologies Ltd. co-founder Wu Jihan.

Following the news, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao tweeted to confirm the news, expressing the company’s willingness to support the industry. He stated:

“Let’s make more news, and less FUD. Invest in the industry.”

This marks Binance’s first strategic investment in China since its withdrawal from the market back in 2017. At that time, the exchange withdrew its operations due to the ban on digital currency trading. Founder “CZ” Zhao Changpeng has stated that Mars Finance has rapidly expanded its influence since launch.

Mars Finance was founded by local entrepeneur Wang Feng in 2018, and the news platform serves as a Chinese-language crypto news service. According to the firm’s website, it is indicated that the startup provides as well market reports  and it has also launched its own venture fund called Consensus Lab, which has invested in nearly 50 high-quality blockchain projects such as  Hong Kong-based Coinsuper, Quark, Bumo, Celer, Certik, Bitforex, and Bgogo.

Prior to Mars Finance, Wang co-founded Linekong Interactive Group Co. in 2007, which is a mobile game developer and publisher that went public in Hong Kong in 2014.

Currently, the Chinese version of Mars Finance, with the domain huoxing24.com, has around 124,000 monthly visits, with a 70,947 rank in China, according to website traffic tool SimilarWeb. The English-language version of the website, however, appears to be relatively inactive since early January 2019.

The news follows as Binance’s new U.S. platform prepares to onboard customers in preparation for live trading. Last week, Binance US announced that it would open registration and deposits on September 18th, after which it will roll out a number of Binance products across the U.S.

OKEx Delists Five Privacy Coins in Korea

Cryptocurrency exchange OKEx will be delisting five privacy coins due to pressure from regulators, losing all their trading pairs on the exchange.

Privacy Coins in Violation of Travel Rule

The transaction support for Monero (XMR), Dash (DASH), Zcash (ZEC), Horizen (ZEN) and Super Bitcoin (SBTC) will end on Oct 10, while withdrawal services will stop on Dec 10, according to the announcement from OKEx Korea.

OKEx Korea decided to withdraw support for these cryptocurrencies due to concerns that keeping them would make it difficult for the exchange to adhere to regulations recently presented by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). In accordance with the FATF’s so-called Travel Rules, cryptocurrency transactions will soon need to carry identifying markers to indicate the sender and recipient involved in the exchange.

In June, the FATF, the global money-laundering watchdog, issued its final crypto guidelines, retaining the “travel rule,” which requires exchanges to collect and transfer customer information during transactions. The information includes originator’s name, his account number and location information, as well as beneficiary’s name and his account number.

It feels as though cryptocurrency exchanges have been feeling lately squeezed by regulators to delist privacy-oriented coins.

Coinbase UK, for example, delisted Zcash last month for mysterious reasons that are still unclear. Last month, U.K.-based cryptocurrency exchange CEX.io also announced that it is delisting privacy coins Zcash and Dash taking into account global regulatory and compliance developments. Now, OKEx has come out that it will do the same with five privacy coins.

It seems that OKEx’ decision will only impact the Korean unit and not globally. This likely indicates that the Korean government has asked cryptocurrency exchanges to implement FATF’s guidelines.

FATF Guidelines to be Adopted by G20

This summer, FATF finalized its recommendations to its 37 member nations, including a controversial requirement that “virtual asset service providers” (VASPs), including cryptocurrency exchanges, pass information about their customers to one another when transferring funds between firms.

Anonymous coins thus, by this standard, prevent exchanges from being compliant. The ban essentially confirms that authorities are watching privacy-oriented cryptocurrencies with distrust, and are actively seeking to ban them on exchanges.

The countries that comprise the G20 have already stated that they would work in accordance with the FATF’s guidelines, even though the task force doesn’t have any direct regulatory authority.

The global anti-money laundering body gave members 12 months to implement the new recommendations that, while not mandatory, could see nations not complying put on a finance blacklist.