Author: Cointelegraph By Osato Avan-Nomayo

China’s state planning agency calls for public opinion on Bitcoin mining ban

China’s state planning agency calls for public opinion on Bitcoin mining ban

China’s National Development and Reform Commission is seeking public opinion on the inclusion of crypto mining in its list of “phased-out” industries.The call for public comments by the country’s macroeconomic planning agency was contained in a release issued on Thursday.Back on Sept. 24, the agency added digital currency mining to its list of outdated industries following sweeping crackdowns by authorities in Beijing against crypto miners.The move offered a definitive stance by the commission after seemingly going back and forth on the issue for the last two years.As part of the calls for public comments, the agency’s notice requested public feedback from “relevant units” as well as “people from all walks of life.”The public comment period will last for one month, between Thursday, Oct. 21, and Nov. 21. Members of the public interested in providing feedback on the matter will have four different avenues to make their opinions known, including emails, physical mail and comments sections on the commission’s website.In a related development, the commission also put out a post on its website stating that the United States had replaced China as the dominant Bitcoin (BTC) mining nation in the world.Related: Death knell for Chinese crypto miners? Rigs on the move after gov’t crackdownIndeed, as previously reported by Cointelegraph, the U.S. now accounts for over a third of the global Bitcoin mining hash rate distribution, with Kazakhstan and Russia in second and third place, respectively.Even before Beijing’s crackdown, crypto miners in North America had been expanding their capacity with massive hardware orders from major manufacturers such as Bitmain and MicroBT.At the height of China’s dominance, Chinese miners controlled three-quarters of the global Bitcoin hash rate.Chinese miners driven out by the ban have reportedly moved their hardware to overseas locations, including Kazakhstan, with states such as Texas and Florida looking to attract some of these companies.

Grayscale parent company expands GBTC purchase allocation to $1 billion

Grayscale parent company expands GBTC purchase allocation to $1 billion

According to an announcement issued on Wednesday, DCG is now authorized to buy up to $1 billion worth of Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC).This development extends DCG’s prior authorization by $250 million if they choose to do so. Indeed, DCG has so far purchased $338 million in GBTC, according to the company’s announcement on Wednesday.As previously reported by Cointelegraph, DCG had purchased $193.5 million worth of GBTC shares back in May 2021. At the time, the firm’s GBTC purchase limit stood at $250 million.As part of the announcement, DCG revealed that it plans to use cash on hand to facilitate the purchase on the open market under the provisions enshrined in Rule 10b-8 of the Exchange Act.DCG’s announcement comes on the heels of plans by Grayscale to convert its GBTC product to a Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund (ETF).However, such plans depend on the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) softening its stance on Bitcoin ETFs.Related: Grayscale confirms Bitcoin ETF plans and adds exposure to Zcash, Stellar Lumens and Horizen to its trustsSEC chairman Gary Gensler has already spoken in favor of BTC-related ETFs backed by Bitcoin futures rather than those based on the spot price of the cryptocurrency.Gensler’s comments were part of SEC chairman’s remarks on issues raised about the ProShares’ Bitcoin Strategy ETF that made history on Tuesday as the first BTC-related ETF to launch in the U.S. market.Apart from its future Bitcoin ETF plans, Grayscale has also added more cryptocurrencies to its catalog of investment products.Earlier in October, Zcash (ZEC), Stellar Lumens (XM), and Horizen (ZEN) became the latest additions to the firm’s suite of altcoin trusts.Grayscale Investment’s parent company — Digital Currency Group (DCG) — has extended its purchase allocation for the former’s Bitcoin Trust product.

Pakistani high court orders government to regulate crypto in three months

Pakistani high court orders government to regulate crypto in three months

The High Court of Sindh (SHC), the highest judicial body in Pakistan’s Sindh Province, has asked the government to come up with modalities for cryptocurrency regulation.According to Pakistani English daily The Express Tribune, the SHC gave the instruction while hearing a petition brought before the court challenging the legality of the country’s 2018 crypto ban.The SHC instructed regulators such as the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and the central bank to work with government agencies such as the Ministries of Information Technology and Law to develop crypto regulations within three months.As part of the proceedings, the SHC also requested that a report on the steps taken to regulate cryptocurrencies be submitted in the same time period.As previously reported by Cointelegraph, the SECP has been considering crypto regulations since November 2020.Combating money laundering and terrorism financing is reportedly at the heart of government consultation surrounding cryptocurrencies especially amid pressure from the Financial Action Task Force.The SHC’s instruction on Wednesday puts Sindh as the latest province to demand some form of recognition for cryptocurrencies in Pakistan.Back in December 2020, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly called on the federal government to legalize crypto. At the time, the lawmakers pointed to the broad-based nature of digital currency adoption as an indication that cryptocurrencies were poised to replace fiat in the future.Related: Pakistan’s central bank is ‘carefully studying’ CBDCs, says governorIn March, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, another of Pakistan’s four provinces, announced plans to pilot crypto mining farms in the region.Meanwhile, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), like many other central banks across the world, is also studying central bank digital currencies.In a separate crypto-related case before the Lahore High Court involving stakeholders such as the SECP, the SBP and the federal government, the court asked for participants to present legal points on the matter in subsequent proceedings.Lahore is the capital of Punjab, another of Pakistan’s four provinces.

Bitcoin adoption won’t affect IMF talks, says El Salvador’s top central banker

Bitcoin adoption won’t affect IMF talks, says El Salvador’s top central banker

Douglas Rodriguez, president of the Central Reserve Bank of El Salvador, has dismissed fears that the country adopting Bitcoin (BTC) as legal tender will scupper plans for a $1.3-billion loan facility from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).According to Bloomberg on Tuesday, Rodriguez stated that the central bank does not see any risks associated with the Bitcoin Law even as it prepares to secure an extended loan facility from the IMF.Indeed, the central bank described El Salvador’s Bitcoin Law as only having “upside risks,” with Rodriguez stating that a BTC bull run could help the country’s economy expand by over 9% more than initial forecasts.According to Rodriguez, the central bank has explained to the IMF that “Bitcoin is simply a payment method.”As previously reported by Cointelegraph, El Salvador’s government says Bitcoin acceptance continues to grow with people selling more United States dollars to buy BTC.Uncertainty over the fate of the IMF talks, as well as the recent BTC adoption as legal tender, has seemingly had a significant effect on the country’s credit rating.El Salvador’s bonds declined sharply in September following “Bitcoin Day” in the country, putting even more significance on the outcome of the IMF loan deal.Related: El Salvador removes BTC price feed from Chivo app to crack down on arbitrage scalpersAccording to central bank figures, with El Salvador’s external debt rising to $18.45 billion in Q2 2021, securing the IMF loan facility could be crucial to ensuring access to the global market in 2022.IMF officials have criticized El Salvador’s Bitcoin adoption, calling the move “an inadvisable shortcut” that could have dire consequences for the country.Critics of the move from the mainstream finance sector have pointed to volatility and money laundering as among the likely systemic risks posed by accepting BTC as legal tender.

Blockchain brings the sharing economy to real estate investing

Blockchain brings the sharing economy to real estate investing

Fractional ownership of buildings and property developments is becoming one of the adoption areas for blockchain technology in the real estate business. From democratizing access to real estate investment to improving liquidity in the market, there is an argument to be made for tokenization being a net positive for the real estate space.Tokenization via fractional real estate investment is also another example of the emerging “sharing economy” that seems to be encouraging crowdfunded ownership, a trend that could help to decentralize the global asset market across several sectors.With Millennials, the maiden generation of digital natives entering their peak spending years, the digitization of the real estate market could see greater interaction in the market from this particular demographic.However, as is the case with fractional ownership as a whole, tokenized real estate investing does come with its share of drawbacks. Given the novel nature of the enterprise, financing options can often be limited, leading to less liquidity in the market and an overall flexibility deficit.Initial fraction offeringAs previously reported by Cointelegraph, Fraction, a subsidiary of Hong Kong fintech firm Fraction Group, received regulatory approval from Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission to trade tokens representing fractional ownership of physical and digital assets.While the approval covers tokenized investments in physical and digital goods, Fraction’s first focus is on fractional real estate investment and will reportedly utilize an initial fraction offering (IFO) vehicle.According to the company’s announcement back in September, IFOs will provide easier entry into the high-end real estate market for prospective investors. IFO tokens will represent fractional ownership of luxury real estate listings for as low as $150, presumably lowering the barrier for greater participation in the market.Back in January, Fraction listed its first property on its proprietary exchange platform, a condo unit located in On Nut, Bangkok, Thailand. According to details on the company’s website, the process involved the total digitization of the title deed followed by the fractionalization of the ownership of the property before offering tokenized ownership of these fractions via an IFO.Speaking to Cointelegraph, Josh Stech, co-founder and CEO of Sundae — a digital residential real estate marketplace platform — highlighted the merits of tokenization and fractional ownership in the market. “Investing in residential real estate is one of the biggest opportunities for wealth creation, and sadly, it’s accessible mainly to the wealthy,” Stech said, adding:“Tokenizing residential real estate on blockchain has the promise to provide efficient and open access to the largest asset class in the U.S. not just for younger people but for anyone who wants to invest in real estate without having the funds for an entire property transaction.”By leveraging crypto and blockchain technology, Stech stated that tokenization will serve to lower the entry barrier for investors into fractional real estate investment. “While real estate investment funds and platforms provide fractional investment opportunities, they are hard to find, hard to evaluate, illiquid and accessible to accredited investors only,” the Sundae CEO added.A slow start Real estate tokenization is still in its infancy and remains a niche aspect of the market. However, industry insiders say there is potential for massive growth with British accounting network Moore Global estimating that the tokenized real estate market could achieve a $1.4-trillion valuation by 2026 on the back of tokenizing only 0.5% of the current global property market.While the tokenized real estate space does show some promise, there are a few significant issues that need to be addressed. Lack of liquidity especially in the secondary market, institutional hesitancy and absence of regulatory clarity are among some of these major hurdles.Related: Tokenized Real Estate Hasn’t Lived Up to the Hype: Property ResearcherAccording to Tal Elyashiv, founder and managing director of blockchain-focused venture capital firm SPiCE VC, fractional real estate ownership via tokenization still has a long way to go. Elyashiv told Cointelegraph:“I believe that to propel the real estate tokenization market, we will need to see some more institutional comfort level with tokenized assets, which is coming. The market is already seeing an influx of institutional-grade projects. The market also needs to experience innovation in the area of dedicated real estate platforms, which allow investing in tokenized real estate assets without investors having to deal with the underlying blockchain complexity.”The SPiCE VC founder added that these dedicated platforms that deal in tokenized real estate assets are essential for improving liquidity in the market. According to Elyashiv, such platforms will make token-based real estate investing more intuitive.A few notable examplesFor now, tokenized real estate remains fragmented with different projects providing their own somewhat limited platforms while navigating sometimes vague regulatory provisions. However, there have been a few notable developments in the market.In the summer of 2020, Overstock’s regulated tZERO exchange platform started trading a security token that represented fractional ownership of a luxury resort in Colorado. The launch attracted record trading volume at the time, but the initial enthusiasm was likely dampened by the market slowdown occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic.In September, RealX, a fintech firm based in Pune, India, launched a blockchain-based registry system to enable fractional property ownership in the country. According to a previous Cointelegraph report, tZERO also partnered with real estate crowdfunding company NYCED Group to tokenize $18 million worth of properties.Related: tZERO to tokenize $18M of stock for the ‘Robinhood of real estate investing’Growing demand for fractional ownership could be the trigger that spurs greater adoption of tokenized real estate. With Millennials coming into their own in terms of being the dominant consumer demographic in the world, investment vehicles steeped in the ethos of the sharing economy could become even more popular within the next few years.The current rise of the sharing economy appears to be at least in part due to the pivot toward access rather than the ownership framework that characterizes the older economic model. This preference for access-based services has in some way contributed to the success of neo-businesses such as ride-hailing, content crowdfunding, streaming service for entertainment, among others.With cryptocurrencies, service providers and the millennial consumer class probably have a suitable mechanism to drive token-based fractional ownership.

Right-wing Indian group calls for stricter crypto regulations

Right-wing Indian group calls for stricter crypto regulations

Mohan Bhagwat, the head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS — a right-wing Hindu nationalist society — has urged India’s government to pursue crypto regulations “in the larger interest of society.”According to Asian News International, the RSS chief made these remarks during his speech marking the celebration of the Hindu festive Dussehra.Despite numerous reports of looming crypto bans, the narrative from government sources has been that stakeholders prefer to create a framework for regulating the market.A coalition of pro-crypto entities was even able to secure a Supreme Court ruling that overturned a previous ban imposed by the central bank that prevented banks from offering services to cryptocurrency exchanges.Bhagwat’s comments come amid reports of increasing crypto popularity in India despite the lack of a clear-cut regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies and numerous reports of a possible ban on virtual currencies.In September, Cointelegraph reported that Indian crypto exchanges were preparing targeted advertising campaigns in preparation for the festive season. However, such content might need to adhere to ad disclaimer policies that educate viewers about the risks involved in cryptocurrency investments.This growing crypto popularity has also reached India’s entertainment sector with Bollywood stars like Amitabh Bachchan launching their own cryptocurrencies or endorsing major exchanges in the country.Related: Indian central bank remains anti-crypto, affirming ‘no change’ in its stanceBhagwat’s stance could indicate a conservative repudiation of the spreading crypto acceptance among the more liberal segments of India’s society.Indeed, the RSS chief also took streaming platforms to task for failing to censor some of their content from underage viewers.Bhagwat claimed drug abuse was on the rise and that the money circulating in these markets was being used to promote “anti-national activities.”

Q3 saw significant crypto market recovery from May crash, says new report

Q3 saw significant crypto market recovery from May crash, says new report

Cryptocurrency data aggregator CoinGecko has released its Q3 2021 report showing massive gains across several crypto market sectors.Following the May market crash, Q3 began on a low ebb for the crypto space, with market capitalization even dipping further in late July below the $1.2 trillion, less than half of the $2.5 trillion all-time high recorded only two months prior.However, market capitalization did recover in Q3, even rising as high as $2.3 trillion in early September.According to the CoinGecko report, Bitcoin (BTC), gaming “coins,” and nonfungible tokens (NFTs) dominated the crypto market space in Q3.Bitcoin recorded a 25% increase between Q2 and Q3 and has continued on this upward trajectory, even reaching $60,000 for the first time in five months.The network’s hash rate also experienced a resurgence in Q3, indicating a recovery from China’s sweeping crackdown that forced miners to relocate overseas.Gaming tokens like Axie Infinity (AXS), Illuvium (ILV), and Gala (GALA), as well as the NFT space in general, did record massive gains in Q3 as well.AXS, in particular returned almost 1,000% quarter-on-quarter gains, with its 2021 performance topping 13,700%.In terms of NFT trading volume, OpenSea continued its dominance of the market segment. Indeed, OpenSea and Rarible recorded a total trading volume of about $6.8 billion in Q3 according to the CoinGecko report.Related: Crypto markets soar after Fed commits to printing and Evergrande plans to pay its debtThese significant market gains also came on the back of a storm of regulatory concerns regarding cryptocurrencies. Policymakers in the United States seemingly applied pressure with calls for stricter laws surrounding market segments like stablecoins.Despite the steady gains recorded in Q3, the crypto market recovery is still some way off the activity levels seen before the May crash.For one, CoinGecko reported that spot trading volume across the major centralized and decentralized exchanges declined over 42% in Q3.

Japan will prioritize simplicity in CBDC design, says central bank executive

Japan will prioritize simplicity in CBDC design, says central bank executive

While Japan’s CBDC plans are still in the research stage, Shinichi Uchida, an executive of the Bank of Japan (BOJ) has said simplicity will drive the central bank’s design thesis for the digital yen.According to Reuters, Uchida made this known during a speech delivered on Friday calling for modalities to be put in place to ensure the CBDC co-exists with existing private payment channels.For Uchida, vertical integration of the digital yen within the private sector payment matrix will require a simple CBDC design.Part of this simple design could involve creating a framework for people to use both the CBDC and electronic payment services from one wallet enabling seamless switching between both channels.According to Uchida, vertical integration will incentivize the private sector to adopt Japan’s CBDC leading to more valuable services.As previously reported by Cointelegraph, the BOJ has begun preliminary proof of concept studies on the possibility of issuing a CBDC. The second phase of the digital yen studies will reportedly commence in Q2 2022.Japan is one of many nations in the Asia Pacific financial theater examining the merits of floating a central bank digital currency, especially in the wake of China’s digital currency electronic payment project.Related: Bank of Japan governor says CBDC preparation can’t wait until hour of needIn March, the BOJ announced the creation of a Liaison and Coordination Committee that draws from public and private sector participants tasked with collaborating on the digital yen CBDC pilot.Japan’s CBDC studies may also involve examining modalities for cross-border compatibility with other sovereign digital currencies, possibly as a counter to China’s digital yuan on the international stage.Cooperation on CBDC matters across international lines is also becoming a significant focus point for several countries developing their national digital currencies.Meanwhile, global finance bodies like the Bank for International Settlements continue to push for CBDCs to counter the proliferation of cryptocurrencies.

Binance continues push to become regulated crypto exchange with new hire

Binance continues push to become regulated crypto exchange with new hire

Crypto exchange giant Binance has hired Mark McGinness, former head of international relations at the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), as its chief regulatory liaison officer.According to an announcement issued on Thursday, Binance stated that McGinness will contribute to the company’s push toward better relations with regulatory bodies across the globe.Indeed, McGinness is the latest Binance hire with expertise in regulatory compliance and engagement with financial regulators. Before his stint with the DFSA, McGinness was also the head of international relations at the Australian Securities and Investment Commission.The former DFSA executive has also held advisory positions at the International Monetary Fund.In a conversation with Cointelegraph, McGinness stated that he plans to leverage the experiences gained and relationships cultivated during the course of his career to improving Binance’s standing with regulators, adding:“I am looking forward to bringing this experience to Binance where I shall be working with these industry leaders and policymakers to assist not only in setting best practice and regulatory frameworks but also in broadening their understanding of the blockchain and crypto industry.”Commenting on McGinness joining the Binance compliance team, the company’s CEO, Changpeng Zhao, identified the former DFSA executive’s 30 years of experience working with regulators and other policymakers around the world.Zhao called McGinness’ appointment “a huge step forward” for Binance, especially as the business tries to navigate a stricter crypto regulatory climate.Related: Binance hires former IRS-CI special agent to head intelligence divisionAs previously reported by Cointelegraph, Binance has been forced to discontinue several crypto trading services in many jurisdictions around the world. In September, Binance blocked fiat deposits and spot crypto trading services for users in Singapore. The platform has also stopped offering crypto futures trading in Australia.The exchange giant continues to be the subject of significant scrutiny from state agencies, many of which say Binance is not licensed to operate in their respective jurisdictions.McGinness told Cointelegraph that Binance maintains a long-term commitment to the industry and is keen to create a “sustainable ecosystem around blockchain technology.”“In addition to localizing our operations and business to comply with local regulations, we are striving for productive dialogue with regulators so that we can formulate best practices and regulations that are for the long-term benefit of all participants,” McGinness wrote to Cointelegraph.Earlier in October, reports emerged that Binance may situate its headquarters in Ireland. The exchange has been the subject of “globe-trotting” accusations by critics who say the platform’s actions are indicative of attempts to circumvent regulatory provisions.

Digital Pound Foundation launches to promote CBDC development in the UK

Digital Pound Foundation launches to promote CBDC development in the UK

The Digital Pound Foundation (DPF), a group of technology, innovation, and regulatory experts, has announced its launch as an independent non-profit organization in the U.K.According to a release issued on Thursday, the DPF will work to promote the implementation of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) in the country.Indeed, as previously reported by Cointelegraph, the U.K. government in April established a CBDC task force to explore preliminary matters related to the creation of a national digital currency.The DPF, as part of its stated mandate, will carry out research and engage in collaboration with stakeholders to support the U.K.’s CBDC project.In addition to supporting developmental efforts, the foundation will also reportedly advocate for robust regulations for the U.K.’s CBDC project as well as favorable legal provisions for privately issued digital currencies.According to Jeremy Wilson, chairman of the DPF, the social and technological ramifications of a CBDC for the U.K. are profound, hence the need for creating the group to provide the necessary support to all stakeholders.The DPF may likely join the cast of payment and fintech experts already lined up by the Bank of England to contribute to the U.K’s CBDC development efforts. Recently, famous whistle-blower and former United States Central Intelligence Agency agent Edward Snowden described CBDCs as a perversion of cryptocurrencies. In a written note to Cointelegraph, Wilson offered a different opinion, stating, “Our view is that CBDCs should not be considered on the same spectrum as cryptocurrencies. The two are fundamentally different in their conceptualization, and in the use cases to which they would respectively be applied.”Related: UK chancellor names CBDC on list of financial reforms for TreasuryAccording to the announcement, Wilson and the other originating members of the DPF are joined by associate members including Ripple, Quant, Electroneum and The Realization Group.Electroneum CEO Richard Ells will also serve as a member of the board of directors of the DPF. According to Ells, CBDCs have the potential to contribute meaningfully to promoting greater financial inclusion across the globe.In a survey of 2,500 adults in the U.K. published back in August, 30% of participants stated their belief that a CBDC could cause more harm than good in the country.

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