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Pro-Crypto Republican Vivek Ramaswamy Drops Out of 2024 Presidential Race, Endorses Trump

Pro-crypto Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has exited the 2024 presidential race after receiving fewer votes in the Iowa caucuses. Ramaswamy, a vocal supporter of cryptocurrency, plans to endorse Donald Trump in the presidential race. Despite facing attacks from Trump, Ramaswamy has shown significant support for crypto, particularly Bitcoin. In a recent debate, he called for substantial changes in cryptocurrency regulation, highlighting the flaws in the current U.S. financial system and endorsing Bitcoin and digital assets as a viable alternative. (Source: Coingape)

IRS Grants Reprieve on Crypto Reporting Rules Amidst Infrastructure Act Changes

In a temporary relief for businesses navigating the crypto landscape, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have announced a postponement of new rules mandating the reporting of digital asset transactions exceeding $10,000. The delay comes as both agencies work to implement regulations in response to the changes introduced by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden in 2021. While the act equates digital assets with cash for reporting purposes, the recent IRS announcement indicates a transitional phase, stating that businesses are not obligated to report digital asset transactions akin to cash transactions until specific regulations are established. Critics argue that the stringent measures outlined in the infrastructure bill, including personal details disclosure for crypto transactions, may impede industry growth and innovation. (Source: Coingape)

Indian Crypto Exchanges Offer Solutions Amidst Ban on Offshore Platforms

Following the recent ban imposed by India’s Ministry of Finance, Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) on offshore crypto exchanges, including Binance and OKX, Indian exchanges such as CoinDCX, WazirX, and BuyUcoin are stepping in to assist affected users. CoinDCX has allocated a $1 million fund to facilitate hassle-free asset transfers, offering a 1% bonus to users transitioning from banned foreign exchanges. BuyUcoin is providing zero-fee transfers aligning with the FIU ban, emphasizing support for investor protection and adherence to regulations. WazirX is also offering a 1% bonus for users moving their crypto holdings to its platform. The FIU's notices of non-compliance in December led to the removal of several foreign crypto exchanges from Apple and Google app stores, prompting urgency among users previously avoiding a 30% crypto tax through offshore exchanges. (Source: X)

EU Banking Watchdog Extends Anti-Money Laundering Guidelines to Crypto Firms

The European Banking Authority (EBA) has expanded the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Terrorist Financing (CTF) guidelines to encompass crypto asset service providers (CASPs) in the European Union. Effective since December 30, this move brings EU-based crypto companies under the regulatory umbrella, requiring them to adjust financial crime-fighting measures, potentially utilizing blockchain analytics tools. The EBA sees these amendments as a crucial step forward in harmonizing the approach to mitigate money laundering and terror financing risks specific to the crypto sector. The guidelines also include a financial crime risk assessment for crypto firms, addressing features like anonymity enhancements and self-hosted wallets. This development follows the finalization of crypto regulations such as the Transfer of Funds Regulation (ToFR) and Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA), with MiCA's investor protections set to take effect in December, allowing an 18-month transitional period...

Binance Thailand Launches Crypto Trading for General Public in Thailand

Binance Thailand, a subsidiary of Gulf Binance in partnership with Gulf Innova Co. Ltd., has officially launched its regulated digital assets trading platform, offering crypto trading and brokerage services to the general public. The development follows the acquisition of digital asset operator licenses from Thailand’s Ministry of Finance in May 2023. Binance Thailand's platform integrates with Binance Kazakhstan, allowing users access to digital asset brokerage services with local currency pairings. Gulf Binance CEO Nirun Fuwattananukul highlighted the collaboration with Thai regulators and emphasized the commitment to providing a secure and innovative platform. The exchange is authorized by Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and aims to contribute to Thailand’s economic development through blockchain technology and digital assets. (Source: Dailycoin)

Microsoft Launches Copilot Pro Subscription Service for Enhanced AI Assistance

Microsoft introduces Copilot Pro, a $20 subscription service catering to a broader audience by bridging the gap between enterprise and free offerings for its artificial intelligence (AI) assistance suite. Copilot Pro provides subscribers with features that were previously exclusive to enterprise customers, such as native integration with Office software (Excel, PowerPoint, and Word). Additionally, subscribers gain access to "Copilot GPT Builder," allowing users to build and enable their own chatbot personas. The subscription service aims to enhance the Copilot experience, aligning with Microsoft's strategy to offer advanced AI solutions to a wider user base. (Source: Cointelegraph)

UN Report Reveals Tether (USDT) as Most Used Crypto in Illicit Money Laundering Across East and Southeast Asia

A report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) sheds light on the growing role of casinos, junkets, and cryptocurrencies in underground banking and money laundering across East and Southeast Asia. The report identifies Tether (USDT) as the most used cryptocurrency for money laundering related to illicit activities. It details the rise of illegal online casinos, e-junkets, and crypto exchanges, highlighting the use of USDT to route money through various accounts. The report reveals that USDT transactions related to illicit activities predominantly occur on the Tron blockchain. Law enforcement and financial authorities in the region have reported a surge in cyberfraud and money laundering cases involving USDT. (Source: UN Reports)

Terra Founder Do Kwon Appeals Extradition Decision Amid Alleged Political Pressure on Montenegro High Court

Do Kwon, the founder of Terraform Labs, has once again appealed the Montenegro High Court's decision to uphold extradition requests from the U.S. and South Korea. Kwon, facing criminal charges related to the collapse of Terra, had previously won an appeal in November, overturning the court's decision. However, on December 29, the court ruled in favor of the extradition requests. Kwon's lawyer, Goran Rodic, alleges that the court's decision violates legal provisions and international treaties and suggests political pressure. Kwon has been detained in Montenegro and faces legal challenges in multiple jurisdictions. (Source: Bitcoinist)

Circle Completes Upgrade of USDC Stablecoin to Version 2.2: Improvements Include Gas Efficiency and Fork Resilience

Circle, the stablecoin company, has successfully upgraded its USDC stablecoin to version 2.2. This upgrade introduces several improvements, including enhanced gas efficiency, support for account abstraction and smart contract wallets, and increased resilience in dealing with forks. The changes aim to reduce transaction costs for various USDC operations, with estimated savings ranging from 3-7%. Additionally, the upgrade allows USDC to be managed by smart contract wallets, supporting initiatives for account abstraction. Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire highlighted the successful completion of the upgrade, emphasizing the seamless process for a protocol that has handled trillions in transactions.

IMF Chief Differentiates Crypto as Asset Class, Not Money, Dismissing Bitcoin’s Threat to US Dollar Dominance

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva stated in an interview that crypto should be classified as an asset class rather than money. She dismissed concerns about bitcoin displacing the U.S. dollar, emphasizing the U.S. economy's size and the depth of its capital markets as key factors in maintaining the dollar's dominance. Georgieva explained that when discussing crypto, it's essential to differentiate between money and assets. She views crypto as an asset class, describing it as "more like a money management fund." Despite the recent approval of U.S. spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs), she believes the U.S. dollar's role as the dominant currency is secure for the foreseeable future. (Source: Bitcoin.com)

South Korea Considers Specific Regulations for Cryptocurrency Mixers to Combat Money Laundering

South Korean financial authorities are contemplating the introduction of targeted regulatory measures for cryptocurrency mixers to address concerns over their misuse in money laundering by criminal organizations. The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of South Korea's Financial Services Commission is leading the examination of potential regulatory frameworks. Cryptocurrency mixers, originally designed for privacy protection, have increasingly been exploited for illicit financial activities. The absence of specific sanctions against mixers in South Korea has raised the risk of their use in money laundering, prompting proposed regulations that could restrict virtual asset service providers from engaging in mixer-based transactions. (Source: Coinslate)

OKX’s Dubai Subsidiary Secures Virtual Asset Service Provider License

OKX's subsidiary in Dubai has received a Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) license from Dubai's Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) for exchange services. While the license has been granted, OKX emphasized that it remains "non-operational" until it fulfills the regulator's requirements. The company aims to complete the necessary steps and anticipates becoming operational in a few months. Once active, OKX Middle East will offer regulated VASP services, including spot and fiat trading services, AED deposits and withdrawals, and spot trading pairs for both retail and institutional users. Dubai's ruler approved a virtual assets law in March 2022, providing a legal framework for crypto in the region. (Source: Cointelegraph)

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