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SEC Weighs In on ICO Tokens as Securities; Ether Still Labeled “Currency”

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

SEC vs ICO tokens

It was only a matter of time before the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) moved in on the “Wild West” world of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), which has sent the blockchain world reeling. Yesterday, it finally did with its announcement that virtual tokens like the ones sold by the DAO are securities and now subject to federal securities laws.

The SEC statements reads in part: “federal securities laws apply to those who offer and sell securities in the United States, regardless whether the issuing entity is a traditional company or a decentralized autonomous organization, regardless whether those securities are purchased using U.S. dollars or virtual currencies, and regardless whether they are distributed in certificated form or through distributed ledger technology.”

The SEC is cautioning investors not only to be aware of the risks but also to ensure that those looking to get involved do their own due diligence as well.

One important distinction that seems to have emerged in the report, however, is that while DAO tokens are securities, Ether itself is still in the clear.

The Report seems to distinguish between Ether, labeled a virtual currency, and DAO Tokens, labeled a security. Market participants may take comfort in this distinction, as it supports the view that not all blockchain tokens are securities under the U.S. Federal Securities Laws. - Devebois & Plimpton LLC

The announcement, nevertheless, is expected to have an impact on token sales. As a result of this recent development, it is important to note that any company looking to raise capital through ICOs in the U.S. will have to take this SEC decision into consideration.

On the legal side, Mark Radcliffe of DLA Piper told Bitcoin Magazine: “Those considering a token offering would be well served to reconsider their plans and ensure compliance in all of these areas, from tip to tail.”

Radcliffe said: “The SEC’s release is most notable on its survey of many of the corollary issues which can be triggered under the federal securities laws when a token is deemed a security, from registration or exemption, whether general solicitation is permissible, to crowdfunding, to after-market trading and even addressed compliance issues under the 1940 Act.”

What Is “The Howey Test”?

The Howey test is the leading definition of an investment contract, referring to the U.S. Supreme Court case SEC v. W.J. Howey Co. Under the Howey test, an investment contract is “a contract, transaction or scheme whereby a person invests his money in a common enterprise and is led to expect profits solely from the efforts of the promoter or a third party.”

According to Jaron Lukasiewicz, CEO of stealth blockchain project WORKFLOW and former investment banker, “The standard test is an investment in a business where the buyer has a reasonable expectation of profits based on the efforts of others. It should come as no surprise that the SEC found that buyers of the DAO Token purchased a security.”

He explained that the key feature of the DAO token was indeed an expectation of profit if the investments made by the DAO were successful, and so DAO tokens were expressly sold as an investment.  

Lukasiewicz added: “Unlike a token such as Ether, the DAO token had no other utility.  Many people in the industry at the time were concerned about the DAO for the reasons stated by SEC.”

Marco Santori, partner at Cooley LLP and legal ambassador for the Delaware Blockchain Initiative, shared an excellent summary of the report's key points on Twitter, touching chiefly on the distinction between tokens that are and are not securities.

santori screenshot

Arnold Spencer acts as general counsel for the Coinsource network of Bitcoin ATMs. He summed up the distinction in a succinct analogy:

If you buy an interest in a golf course to make money from the business, it is a financial investment and therefore a security. If you join a golf club to play golf, it is not a financial investment and not a security.

Important — but Not Surprising

Ron Chernesky, CEO of social trading platform investFeed, said that he welcomes the SEC announcement, although he also noted that “before yesterday’s announcement, it was common knowledge that ICOs have been enveloped in a regulatory [gray] area.”

It would appear that that gray area has now shrunk somewhat.

The post SEC Weighs In on ICO Tokens as Securities; Ether Still Labeled “Currency” appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

The Big News Behind the BTC-e Arrest and Mt Gox Connection

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

CoinDesk takes a look at new developments in the Mt Gox case, attempting to provide an easy-to-read overview of the complex events.

Source

BILLIONAIRE INVESTOR: Cryptocurrencies ‘aren’t real’

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

howard marks

Howard Marks, billionaire investor and founder of Oaktree Capital Management is adamant about his stance on cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, Ether and others: “They’re not real.”

Marks reiterated this three times to clients Wednesday in his latest Oaktree memo.

“I’d guess these things have arisen from the intersection of (a) doubts about financial security — including the value of national currencies — that grew out of the financial crisis an (b) the comfort felt by millennials regarding all things virtual,” writes Marks. “But they’re not real.”

Marks has clearly done his homework. The 22-page letter is full of research notes and quotes from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and others about blockchain-based currencies. But he’s still unconvinced that they hold any long-term promise.

“Some people are eager to speculate on digital currency for profit,” he writes. “Others want to put a little money into these to-date-profitable phenomena rather than run the risk of missing out. But they’re not real!”

It all comes down to optimism, says Marks. As soon as our current bull market takes a nosedive, bitcoin and ether speculators could take a big hit.

“They’re likely to keep working as long as optimism is present,” writes Marks. “But their performance in bad times is far from dependable. What will happen to Bitcoin’s price and liquidity in a crisis if people decide they’d rather hold dollars (or gold)?”

Marks isn’t the only old-school Wall Street player to be skeptical of digital currencies. Major banks like Morgan Stanley have recognized bitcoin’s use as a value-holding asset, but are hesitant to call it a true currency.

For people like Marks, Bitcoin has a steep learning curve. It’s not as simple as traditional fiat currency, with notes backed by a central bank and transferred through clearinghouses. Instead, bitcoin utilizes a blockchain, which can instantly credit and debit ledgers of parties involved in a transaction.

It looks like Marks has some more reading to do to catch up.

“Nobody has been able to make sense to me of these currencies,” he writes.

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Four Visions for Scaling Bitcoin: A State of Digital Money Panel

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Four Visions for Scaling Bitcoin: A State of Digital Money Panel

At the recent State of Digital Money event in Los Angeles, Bitcoin scaling was the topic of conversation for a panel consisting of Airbitz CEO Paul Puey, derivatives trader Tone Vays, Yours CEO Ryan X. Charles and Bitcoin Core contributor Eric Lombrozo. During the panel discussion, each participant was able to share his vision for how Bitcoin should be scaled to handle a much larger userbase.

Ciphrex CEO and Bitcoin Core Contributor Eric Lombrozo

For Lombrozo, scaling Bitcoin is about getting the greatest gains in terms of throughput increases while also limiting the amount of risk and security vulnerabilities involved in those improvements.

“Obviously, if you have just a few entities that are validating the transactions for everyone, then that creates a point of attack or a single point of failure,” said Lombrozo. “Part of the whole philosophy of Bitcoin is you should be able to validate your own transactions.”

Lombrozo added that scaling Bitcoin means users are able to validate their own transactions without necessarily being forced to validate everyone else’s transactions as well.

“That’s the trick,” said Lombrozo.

An example of this method of scaling Bitcoin is the Lightning Network, in addition to other Layer 2 protocols.

From Lombrozo’s perspective, using a blockchain for every transaction is like going to court every time a deal is made with a counterparty. The Lightning Network allows users to interact directly rather than dealing with the blockchain as a third party of sorts to process the transaction.

In the past, Joseph Poon, who is a co-author of the original Lightning Network white paper, has shared similar comments related to the use of Bitcoin’s underlying blockchain as a court for smart contracts.

“Instead of viewing [the blockchain] as simply a payment system, if you view it as a smart contracting system, which enables the blockchain to act as a dispute mediation system, viewing the blockchain as a judge is a lot more understandable and a lot more powerful,” said Poon at the 2016 MIT Bitcoin Expo.

Lombrozo added that second-layer protocols like the Lightning Network act as a sort of paper IOU to bitcoin’s gold — except in the case of the Lightning Network, the user knows they will always be able to redeem the paper for gold.

In addition to Layer 2 protocols, Lombrozo would also like to see different signature schemes implemented in Bitcoin to lower the resource requirements of operating a full node. Schnorr signatures are an example of such an improvement that has been in development for Bitcoin.

Another key point made by Lombrozo during the panel discussion was that different players in the Bitcoin ecosystem desire different features in the protocol; for example, long-term holders may not care as much about $10 on-chain transaction fees as those who have built businesses around the use of the blockchain for coffee purchases or other low-value transactions.

In summary, Lombrozo referred to a user’s ability to only need to validate their own transactions (while still remaining secure) as the “low-hanging fruit” of scaling Bitcoin.

Yours CEO Ryan X. Charles

While Charles claimed he was happy to see progress made on the eventual activation of Segregated Witness (SegWit) via the activation of BIP 91, he also added, “SegWit doesn’t go far enough.”

From Charles’s perspective, SegWit will not sufficiently lower on-chain transaction fees, which he sees as the key issue for users at this time. In his view, much lower on-chain transaction fees are needed for mainstream adoption of Bitcoin to occur.

According to Charles, the main disagreement between various parties when it comes to the best way to scale Bitcoin has to do with how much transactional activity should happen on the blockchain, as opposed to secondary layers of the network.

“I am very much in favor of radical increases to the block size,” said Charles.

Charles added that it would take 30 years to send every person in the world a bitcoin transaction with the current 1MB block size limit.

“That just doesn’t work from the point of view of mainstream adoption of bitcoin,” said Charles.

Charles also noted that the Lightning Network white paper stated that a 130MB block size limit would be necessary for mainstream adoption to be possible, even with various Layer 2 scaling options.

According to Charles, the key question to answer is: How does Bitcoin get from 1MB to 10GB blocks?

“Computers get faster and cheaper,” said Charles. “It doesn’t just have to be technical software and cryptographic optimizations.”

Derivatives Trader Tone Vays

When Vays spoke about his vision for scaling Bitcoin, he first noted that the digital cash system may not be able to do all of the things that were promised in the early days. He specifically mentioned privacy, security, instant transactions and cheap payments as examples of features that were promised by Bitcoin enthusiasts back in 2013.

“In reality, having all of those things at once is almost impossible,” said Vays. “There’s a chance Bitcoin can’t do all that.”

Vays reiterated Lombrozo’s point about different users wanting different features in Bitcoin. In his view, the censorship-resistant properties of the system should be viewed with the highest level of priority.

“The reality is a censorship-resistant payment method is way more important,” said Vays. “You have so many other ways to pay for your cup of coffee, but you don’t have a lot of ways to donate to Wikileaks. You don’t have a lot of ways to buy “other” things...”

Last year, Vays published a post on his blog where he examined some of these use cases involving censorship resistance.

Vays added that he trusts the current group of contributors to Bitcoin Core, the reference implementation of the Bitcoin protocol, to focus on this priority of censorship-resistant digital cash.

For Vays, the next area of focus for developers after the activation of SegWit should be privacy-focused improvements, such as MimbleWimble and Confidential Transactions.

Airbitz CEO Paul Puey

Before talking about anything else, Puey stated that he is very much for the activation of SegWit. However, he then shared his belief that much more on-chain capacity is needed on the Bitcoin network, as Charles had previously stated.

“We’re not going to be able to live with a 1MB block, and it was an arbitrary number,” said Puey.

Puey added that computers are now four to five times more powerful than when the block size limit was originally added to Bitcoin by the system’s creator. He also indicated that the correct “magical number” to define the block size limit is hard to figure out, which is why he believes the free market should decide.

“I don’t think the developers should make that decision,” said Puey.

Puey did not elaborate on how the free market would be able to make this decision. It’s unclear if he was talking about Bitcoin Unlimited’s concept of emergent consensus or simply users choosing between different blockchains with different block size limits.

The Airbitz CEO then prefaced the rest of his comments with the fact that he still has a tremendous amount of respect for the people who have been contributing to Bitcoin Core over the years as they’re trying to solve an incredibly hard problem.

Puey noted that he, as a developer, knows his limitations when it comes to developing a proper user experience for software applications.

“How many of you people want the developers designing the user experience of your protocol, your application [or] your website?” Puey asked the audience.

In Puey’s view, the idea that every Bitcoin user is going to run their own full node, even at a 1MB block size limit, creates a flawed user experience and will prevent the technology from being adopted by the masses.

“Every party in this debate wants decentralization, but they all define it differently,” Puey added.

While Puey suggested that more users running their own full nodes is helpful, he also shared his belief that having greater adoption of bitcoin as a currency would also help the system become more resilient to attackers.

“The more people that are using it, the more that the economy is dependent on it, the harder it is to stomp out a technology,” said Puey.

Puey concluded his response to the scaling question by stating that he was happy to see BIP 91 help end the stagnation in the adoption of protocol improvements.

The full panel discussion was streamed on Periscope by Civic Business Development Manager Vivek Kasarabada and can be viewed in its entirety here.

The post Four Visions for Scaling Bitcoin: A State of Digital Money Panel appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Bitcoin grows up and gets its first federally regulated exchange

Engadget, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitcoin is set to be given the same financial safeguards as traditional assets. The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission has granted LedgerX, a cryptocurrency trading platform operator, approval to become the first federally regulated digital curr...

BTC-e Connected to Bitcoin Money Laundering Arrest in Greece

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

New reports have connected an arrest in Greece today with a bitcoin exchange long known for its secrecy.

Source

$650 BILLION FUND MANAGER: Here's what keeps us up at night

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

New York Federal Reserve BankSo far this year the higher-yielding, more economically-sensitive fixed income sectors have posted the strongest returns and the lower-yielding market segments generally delivered positive single-digit returns—arguably a respectable performance give the trend towards tighter monetary policy both in Europe and in the U.S.

As it is probably too early to call an end to the long phase of gradual global economic growth and abundant liquidity, we believe fundamentals and market technicals still present value-adding opportunities in fixed income given steep yield curves and the potential for tighter spreads.

That said, fixed income risk assets are climbing a wall of worry, and we believe that these risks will likely mount in the coming quarters while higher valuations and tighter spread levels reduce comfort margins. Here is a tour of the most prominent risks that keep us up at night.

Central bank policies

After extraordinary monetary stimulus over the past several years, major central banks appear set on tightening in an environment where inflation is still running below official targets. All of the G3 central banks have turned less accommodative in the recent past, increasing the risks of overtightening going forward.

  • Of the G3 central banks, the Federal Reserve likely poses the greatest overtightening risk—one that may ultimately pull the next recession forward. The risks from the Fed stem from the reduction in U.S. labor overcapacity, a decline which has underscored the concern that the reduction will spill over into inflation pressures. Resolving the wide gap between the Fed’s median dot at the end of 2019, at 2.9%, and the market’s implied policy rate, at 1.66%, could prove painful. These risks could rise if potential replacements for Fed Chair Yellen and other FOMC voters carry more hawkish policy views.
  • With European Central Bank asset purchases reaching self-imposed limits and a formal tapering decision possible by September of 2017, this shift could weaken some of the key supports that have bolstered European and global growth over the past several years.
  • Chinese authorities may well choose to reduce the economic credit stimulus of approximately a quarter turn of GDP per year after they have held their 19th Congress in the fall of 2017 and the retiring members of their Politburo have been replaced.  

Geopolitical risks

While geopolitical risks can stem from a number of places, the Middle East and North Korea are two locations of particular concern in mid-2017.

  • The ultimatum issued to Qatar is a symptom of a more fractious Gulf, with rising tensions between Saudi Arabia/GCC and other players including Qatar, Turkey, and Iran. This deepens the stakes and risks in a region already beset by weak oil prices. Near-term risks include escalation of regional political tensions, while longer term—unless oil prices recover—the region faces falling FX reserves, budget strains, and weakness in the banking sector.
  • North Korea’s ongoing tests of its nuclear and missile capabilities pose a challenge to the Trump administration, and the risks remain that Chinese and other diplomatic efforts will fail to rein in the regime, triggering a military confrontation.
  • Additional risks emanate from the Trump agenda in the U.S. and from the upcoming Italian elections in Europe. However, Trump bump expectations have subsided, while near-term risks in Europe have also faded somewhat due to the pick up in growth, consolidation of the political center in Germany and France, and the potential for reforms in France.

Exogenous event risks

These risks are hard to enumerate, let alone quantify, but they are no less real than those threats in plain sight. Here are two that bear watching.

  • A global pandemic from diseases, such as Zika, Ebola, or a respiratory virus, such as SARS, remains a concern due to growing global populations and urbanization, human encroachment into new environments, increasing frequency of heat waves and flooding, international travel, civil conflict zones, and poor medical coverage in frontier countries.
  • As a whole, global cyberattacks, unplanned IT or communication outages, and data breaches constitute a growing threat to markets, which are vulnerable to attacks on e-services or on entities that provide critical physical or financial infrastructure. For example, the Wannacry attack in May 2017 crippled computers in 100 countries, including those used by the UK's National Health Service.

Despite these walls of worry, however, we believe there are still multiple avenues to add alpha across the fixed income spectrum on a risk-adjusted basis. Below we share some of our sector views over the near term.

Investment Grade Corporate Debt: Modestly positive given fair spread levels, strong investor demand, and economic growth momentum. Still favor U.S. money center banks.

Global Leveraged Finance: Neutral on U.S. high yield given room for additional spread tightening but elevated macro tail risks. Prefer the CCC portion of the U.S. market (offset with higher cash balances), but are exploring opportunities across all quality buckets. Cautious on energy. Favorable on European high yield given the supportive technical backdrop and low default expectations.

Emerging Markets Debt: Positive. We view bouts of volatility as buying opportunities. In hard currency, we are maintaining a barbell position. In local rates, we look for rate cuts in several countries and are emphasizing relative value in EMFX.

Municipal Bonds: Neutral. Strong technicals to start Q3 should begin to abate by quarter end; in addition, solid outperformance vs. U.S. Treasuries in Q2 leaves valuations less attractive compared to earlier this year.

Global Rates: Constructive based on attractive tactical opportunities throughout the developed rates markets as central bank policies progress on varied trajectories.

Agency MBS: Underweight in favor of high-quality spread sectors.

Structured Products: Positive on top-of-the-capital structure assets and the fundamentals of GSE credit risk mezzanine cashflows. Cautious on GSE spreads at current levels and negative on CMBS mezzanine tranches.

Arvind Rajan, Ph.D., is a Managing Director and Head of Global and Macro at PGIM Fixed Income, heading the FX, Global Bond, Emerging Markets Debt, Investment Strategy and Economic Research teams. PGIM Fixed Income is one of the largest fixed income managers in the world, with $654 billion AUM

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NOW WATCH: A hacker reveals the most secure thing you can do to your passwords

Bitcoin fraud suspect arrested in Greece

BBC, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

He is said to be part of a gang accused of laundering billions of dollars using the digital currency.

$4 Billion: Russian Man Arrested for Alleged Bitcoin Money Laundering Scheme

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Authorities have reportedly arrested a man believed to be behind a money laundering scheme orchestrated through bitcoin.

Source

AMD: Cryptocurrency mining won't be a 'long-term growth driver' (AMD)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

AMDAMD released its quarterly earnings after the bell Tuesday and the stock took off.

A beat on earnings and revenue, coupled with a higher than expected forecast for the rest of the year, sent AMD's stock up about 8%.

In the earnings call following the company's release, Lisa Su, CEO of AMD, said something surprising.

"Relative to cryptocurrency, we have seen some elevated demand," Su said. "But it's important to say we didn't have cryptocurrency in our forecast, and we're not looking at it as a long-term growth driver. But we'll certainly continue to watch the developments around the blockchain technologies as they go forward."

Su said that despite a boost in graphics processing unit sales due to increased demand from cryptocurrency miners, the company wouldn't focus on the exploding market.

Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and Ethereum have grown by headline-setting margins this year. Miners are those who lend their often specially-built computers to the cryptocurrency networks to help with complex computing required to verify payments on the platforms. Miners have been buying up lots of GPUs recently in an attempt to make their computers faster and grab a larger portion of the growing cryptocurrencies.

"If you look at GPUs across the world, the inventory in the channel is actually quite lean. And so we're working on replenishing that inventory," Su said. "Our priority, though, really is on our core market, which is the gaming market."

Nvidia, AMD's biggest competitor, is taking the opposite approach. The company is developing a mining specific chip that directly addresses the growing market. A product page for an unreleased Nvidia-based card says a mining-specific chip can increase the hash rate by 36% compared to other general purpose cards.

Cryptocurrencies are notoriously volatile, with hundred dollar moves in the price of Bitcoin the norm, rather than the exception. The currencies have generally been increasing in value but the volatility could greatly affect demand for GPUs as interest wanes with declines prices.

Su addressed this concern, saying that AMD is "doing quite a bit to make sure that [it] protects against any downside as it relates to cryptocurrency," which could also be a reason AMD isn't developing a mining specific card. "We're ensuring that we're not over-calling the demand," Su added.

AMD is up 34.66% this year.

Click here to watch AMD's stock price in real time...

AMD stock price

SEE ALSO: AMD spikes after earnings beat

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CoinDesk Explainer: Bitcoin Cash and Why It's Forking the Blockchain

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

A group of miners unhappy with scaling proposal Segwit2x have created Bitcoin Cash, an alternative that could fork the bitcoin network on Aug. 1.

Source

Someone Tried to Extort 52 Bitcoins From Trump Advisor Jared Kushner Last Year

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Jared Kushner, a senior aide to US President Donald Trump, revealed to Congress that the extortionist demanded the release of Trump's tax returns.

Source

US regulators just dealt a blow to the most hyped area in tech investing right now

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

banker stock exchange worried trader crash scared fearful

One of the most-hyped areas in tech investing right now looks certain to come under additional scrutiny after a decision by US regulators.

On Tuesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said that "ICOs" (Initial Coin Offerings) can sometimes be considered securities — and as such are subject to strict laws and regulations.

For the uninitiated, ICOs are a fancy new way of fundraising enabled by digital currencies like Ethereum — participants invest money and receive digital "tokens" in return. Thus far, it has been largely unregulated, with some ICO crowdfunding events raising hundreds of millions of dollars — leading some observers to argue that it is a massive bubble.

But the SEC's warning means that this free-for-all may not last forever. In a statement, it said (emphasis ours):

"The Securities and Exchange Commission issued an investigative report today cautioning market participants that offers and sales of digital assets by 'virtual' organizations are subject to the requirements of the federal securities laws. Such offers and sales, conducted by organizations using distributed ledger or blockchain technology, have been referred to, among other things, as 'Initial Coin Offerings' or 'Token Sales.' Whether a particular investment transaction involves the offer or sale of a security — regardless of the terminology or technology used — will depend on the facts and circumstances, including the economic realities of the transaction."

In other words: It doesn't matter how you dress it up, if it looks like a security and smells like a security, the SEC is going to treat it like a security. And that means sales must be registered in advance — though not all token sales will necessarily qualify. The devil is in the detail.

In an emailed statement, Peter Van Valkenburgh, director of research at bitcoin non-profit Coin Center, said: "What the SEC did not say is that all tokens are securities. Rather, they suggest a facts and circumstances test but only analyse the facts and circumstances surrounding last year’s DAO token sale.

"We believe that applying the same facts and circumstances test to other tokens will mean that some do not fit into the definition of securities, particularly tokens with an underlying utility rather than a mere speculative investment value. Our securities framework and other research explains why this is the case. We hope clear guidance from the SEC to that effect will be forthcoming."

Prior to the announcement, there was uncertainty as to the regulatory status of ICOs, and some startups in the space took steps to pre-empt it. The EOS token sale (which raised more than $200 million), warned in its FAQ that it "does not believe that the distribution of EOS Tokens or the EOS Tokens themselves are securities, commodities, swaps on either securities or commodities, or similar financial instruments ... and should not be considered as a type of investment." It also banned US citizens from buying EOS Tokens.

The SEC specifically investigated the DAO crowdsale in 2016, a high-profile token sale that was subsequently hacked. It ruled that the tokens "were securities and therefore subject to the federal securities laws" — and by not registering, it violated the law.

The regulator is not bringing charges relating to the DAO, instead warning (emphasis ours):

"In light of the facts and circumstances, the agency has decided not to bring charges in this instance, or make findings of violations in the Report, but rather to caution the industry and market participants: the federal securities laws apply to those who offer and sell securities in the United States, regardless whether the issuing entity is a traditional company or a decentralized autonomous organization, regardless whether those securities are purchased using U.S. dollars or virtual currencies, and regardless whether they are distributed in certificated form or through distributed ledger technology."

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NOW WATCH: Mount Everest is not the tallest mountain in the world

Goldman Sachs: Bitcoin May Reach New High Over $3,600

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Goldman Sachs has issued a new forecast for the price of bitcoin, finding it will likely remain volatile before testing all-time highs again.

Source

Virtual reality hit when I tried to cash in my bitcoins

The Guardian, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

I sold them via LocalBitcoins, but HSBC kept blocking my account

When my girlfriend became pregnant I decided to sell my bitcoins to decorate a nursery. I auctioned them via localbitcoins. You put your coins into an escrow account, wait for an offer and, when the buyer has paid by Bacs, you release the coins. The buyers are verified by email, telephone and an official ID.

After a couple of days I had an offer. The buyer transferred the funds into my HSBC bank account; I released the coins. The same buyer made another purchase of £530.

Continue reading...

The Economist explains: Has the bitcoin civil war come to a peaceful end?

The Economist, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Main image:  THE crypto-catastrophe seems to have been averted: the price of bitcoin is moving back up towards $3,000. Last week a majority of bitcoin “miners”—firms and individuals operating powerful computers that process transactions in the crypto-currency before they are confirmed—signalled support for an upgrade of the system to increase its capacity. An alternative proposal, which was supposed to be implemented on August 1st, could have led to at least two versions of bitcoin. Has the “bitcoin civil war”, as some call it, come to a peaceful end after more than two years of infighting?The dispute is predictably arcane. At issue is the size of a “block”, the name given to the batches into which bitcoin transactions are assembled before they are confirmed. It is currently set at one megabyte, which means that the system can only handle around seven transactions per second (conventional payment systems, such as Visa, can process thousands). With demand now often surpassing the limit, users had to pay up to $5.50 on average to get a transaction dealt with speedily. To ease the congestion, one camp wants to increase the size of the block from one to two megabytes. The other favours packing transactions more efficiently with something called “segregated witness”, or “SegWit”, which would remove ...

London Stock Exchange Partners With IBM to Develop Securities Data Blockchain

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

London Stock Exchange

The London Stock Exchange (LSE) subsidiary Borsa Italiana has announced plans to digitize securities certificate data with the adoption of IBM Blockchain.

The partnership between LSE and IBM will give small private European companies the opportunity to interact with shareholders and vice versa. It will also simplify the tracking and management of information by recording all shareholder transactions.

Commenting on the deal to Bitcoin Magazine, Ed Clark, senior press officer at the LSE, said, “It has the potential to allow private SMEs [small- and medium-sized enterprises] to replace the paper-based system that currently exists that is both opaque and inefficient. Greater transparency could lend itself to trading opportunities in the future.”

Clark stressed that the development with IBM was initiated by the Italian subsidiary, adding, “This was a business-led initiative that came from Borsa Italiana — not built by LSE tech guys and then applied to a business-case, bottom-up approach.”

The solution is undergoing an initial test phase with a small group of LSE partners and clients. So far, the move is being met with approval by blockchain and exchange specialists.

Patrick Young, executive director of DV Advisors, an advisory company for exchanges, told Bitcoin Magazine, “The LSE deploying blockchain [technology] for private company data management makes eminent sense. It’s a simple first-level deployment as opposed to a radical shift involving retirement of legacy non-DL [distributed ledger] technology.”

This blockchain solution, developed in collaboration with IBM, is built on highly secure infrastructure technology with the highest levels of encryption commercially available.

The LSE is not the first European exchange to announce the use of blockchain technology. This year there have been a number of European banks that have said they are using blockchain-based trade finance for SMEs. This includes the American International Group and Standard Chartered Bank.

Eddy Travia, CEO of Coinsilium, a firm that finances and manages the development of early-stage blockchain technology companies, said to Bitcoin Magazine: “Blockchain technologies offer the potential for greater efficiencies and streamlined processes by reducing operational costs through automated transactions and smart contracts, thus removing costs usually associated with intermediaries.”

IBM is seeing blockchain technology as an important part of its security plans. The technology is built on Hyperledger Fabric version 1.0, a blockchain framework. The projects are hosted by the Linux Foundation, and the system will allow sensitive securities data to be shared with permissioned network participants while remaining secure and gated.

Travia added: “Hyperledger is clearly targeting large corporate clients with their permissioned blockchain solution, but in the future it is likely that we will see the adoption of a range of blockchain propositions such as RSK, which offers a balanced solution between true decentralized public blockchains and federated nodes.”

“Sharing secure and transparent critical network data across shareholder networks is difficult using traditional system[s],” said Marie Wieck, general manager of IBM Blockchain, in a statement. “Blockchain [technology] is poised to help remove some of these barriers in traditional methods for the transfer of value — much as the internet did for the exchange of information in the late 1990s.”

The post London Stock Exchange Partners With IBM to Develop Securities Data Blockchain appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Federal Government Approves Regulation Request of LedgerX

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

LedgerX

On July 24, LedgerX announced the CFTC’s approval for a Derivatives Clearing Organization (DCO) license under the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA). The license will allow the company to provide clearing services for fully collateralized digital currency swaps for the first time. On July 6, the CFTC also granted LedgerX an order of registration as a Swap Execution Facility. The company, which was founded in 2013, already received a temporary approval as a Swap Execution Facility in 2015.

Despite the approval, the CFTC highlighted that LedgerX’s current authorization “does not constitute or imply a Commission endorsement of the use of digital currency generally, or bitcoin specifically.” The Commission added that, along with the approval, it had issued a letter on July 24 exempting LedgerX from “certain regulations” implied by the CFTC due to the firm’s fully collateralized clearing model.

By obtaining a DCO license, LedgerX will be able to provide specific services on the company’s platform to participants, including obtaining and hedging bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies by using exchange-traded and centrally cleared option contracts. With the regulatory approval, the company expects to list one- to six-month options contracts for bitcoin in addition to adding contracts for other cryptocurrencies, such as ETH options.

“A U.S. federally regulated venue for derivative contracts settling in digital currencies opens the market to a much larger customer base,” Paul L. Chou, the CEO of LedgerX, said in a statement. “We are seeing strong demand from institutions that previously could not participate in the bitcoin market due to compliance restrictions against unregulated venues. In particular, there is a desire for fund managers to hold financial instruments that are not correlated with the broader equity market, and digital currencies meet that need.”

LedgerX is planning to provide required services, such as surveillance and transparency, for institutional investors. According to the company, participants eligible for LedgerX’s services include registered broker dealers, banks, futures commission merchants, qualified commodity pool entities and qualified high-net-worth investors.

“These are exciting times to have a new digital asset class emerge. I hope that the effort LedgerX put forward in the U.S. can set the stage for a global approach to this new digital asset class,” Mark Wetjen, a member of the board of directors for LedgerX’s parent company, Ledger Holdings, stated.

According to Chou, the approval for the license took more than two years partly because of a long education process. LedgerX secured $11.4 million of funding in May, led by Miami International Holdings Inc. and China’s Huiyin Blockchain Venture Investments, to acquire the clearing license from the CFTC.

“LedgerX’s registration is a historic milestone for derivatives and for digital currencies. To me, it is equivalent to the launch of currency futures back in 1972 that heralded the beginning of exchange-traded and cleared derivatives based on financial products,” Gary DeWaal of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, one of the companies assisting LedgerX during its CFTC application process, said in a statement.

The post Federal Government Approves Regulation Request of LedgerX appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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