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HZ Capital's News Digest: April #1

Legislation

Michigan House of Representatives Votes to Include Cryptocurrencies in Criminal Laws

The Michigan House of Representatives has passed a bill that would include cryptocurrencies in sections of the Michigan Penal Code. These include laws for money laundering, embezzlement, credit card fraud and illegal financial gains.

This bill was said to be inspired by a loophole in a previous dog-fighting ring case where individual participants got away scot-free because their bets had been placed using cryptocurrency.

“As Michiganders get involved, we just want to make sure we have laws in place that protect their finances so that people aren’t able to steal their money away from them or fraudulently get them involved in anything,” said Rep. Vanessa Guerra, D-Saginaw.

Michigan state legislature had previously introduced two bills to include wording for distributed ledger technology (DLT) in addition to cryptocurrencies, and criminalise malicious blockchain data alteration. Both bills were referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee at the end of 2018, but no action was taken.

Source: Cointelegraph

China expresses intentions to eliminate Bitcoin mining.

China has previously banned ICOs and shuttered local cryptocurrency exchanges – however the crackdown may soon get a lot tighter. The National Development and Reform Commission is seeking public opinions on a list of industries, first published in 2011, that it wants to encourage, restrict, or eliminate.

The draft for a recently revised list added cryptocurrency mining, including that of bitcoin, with no timeline. It joins more than 450 activities the NDRC said should be phased out for a variety of reasons, such as non-adherence to relevant laws and regulations, were unsafe, wasted resources or polluted the environment. The public has until 7thMay 2019 to comment on the draft.

Despite China’s less-than-friendly stand to cryptocurrencies, it is the world’s largest market for crypto mining hardware. China’s low energy costs have attracted cryptocurrency miners. Mati Greenspan, an analyst with eToro, said a ban by China would cut off a large portion of the supply and drive up mining costs.

China is not the only government that has taken issue with the energy consumption of dedicated mining rigs. In the Pacific Northwest, miners attempting to use cheap hydroelectric power were surprised by price hikes. Missoula, Montana also introduced a renewable energy requirement for mining operations in the county.

Source: CNAWired (Paywall)

Adoption

Coinbase releases cryptocurrency Visa-debit card

Coinbase on April 10 announced the launch of Coinbase Card, a Visa debit card that allows UK customers to spend crypto.

The card allows customers to pay using bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and other cryptocurrencies. The Coinbase card can be used at any supported payment point both online and offline, and ATMs. Cryptocurrencies in customer’s Coinbase wallets are converted on the fly to fiat in order to complete the purchase when the card is used.

Coinbase has expressed plans to expand support of the Coinbase card to other European countries in the months to come.

Source: Coinbase

KPMG: Blockchain adoption not a priority for finance executives

According to a survey by Big Four auditing firm KPMG, most tax and finance executives do not consider adopting blockchain technology.

The survey has shown that 60% of the respondents wished to automate routine and repetitive tasks, however blockchain adoption was not a high priority. Two-thirds of them did not currently use blockchain; an additional 27% were not sure if they did. Reasons like lack of resources, access to technology decision-makers, and capabilities, were cited as the biggest barriers.

The poll was held during a February 2019 webcast querying 450 tax and finance executives from different companies about blockchain and other technologies. The results were shared with CoinTelegraph in April 2019.

A poll performed by the Global Blockchain Business Council found that 40% of institutional investors felt blockchain was the most important innovation since the internet. However, just a third of them said they needed a head of blockchain on their boards within the next five years.

Source: Cointelegraph

Facebook is getting really serious about blockchain

Facebook is looking for VC dollars, to the tune of $1 billion.

The exact details of the project remain unknown, but the social media network has been reported to be developing its own cryptocurrency for payments. Various unnamed sources have claimed the cryptocurrency would be used in Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging platform to send money to contacts. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also previously floated the prospect of a blockchain model to enable decentralised logins without needing its servers.

Facebook has also gone on a hiring spree to beef up its blockchain team in the past months.

The move comes amidst growing dissatisfaction against what more and more users see as unbridled data harvesting. Facebook has had to fend off several of these accusations in the past years. These have culminated in hearings in the US Congress, and in the British Parliament. The changing tides have likely forced Facebook to respond appropriately before the ground crumbles from under them.

It remains to be seen whether Facebook is able to overcome its less-than-stellar public perception. This is especially so in the eyes of cryptocurrency evangelists.

Two charged in Singapore for promoting fraudulent cryptocurrency OneCoin

Two man were charged on April 10 in Singapore’s courts for promoting fraudulent cryptocurrency OneCoin using a multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme. One of the men was also charged with incorporating a company, One Concept Pte Ltd, to promote the MLM.

Investigations by the Commercial Affairs Department in the Singapore Police Force found that local residents participated through the purchase of online educational courses. These were bundled with promotional tokens which could then be used to mine OneCoins. Participants were also entitled to commissions for referrals.

The United States has already deemed OneCoin to be fraudulent. The cryptocurrency, along with One Concept, has also made its way to the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s Investor Alert List.  Various governments, including New Zealand and Italy, have labelled it as a scam as well.

OneCoin meanwhile continues to rail against what it claims is a “well-organised, purposeful campaign, aiming to damage our corporate reputation and destroy our business,” in a January 2018 media release. A newer media release from just last month alludes to a “witch hunt” by media outlets.

Source: Business Times Singapore