Blockchain Group Asks IRS to Exempt Small Crypto Payments + More News

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Crypto Briefs is your daily, bite-sized digest of cryptocurrency and blockchain-related news – investigating the stories flying under the radar of today’s crypto news.

Source: iStock/NoDerog

Tax news

  • A blockchain trade group, the Wall Street Blockchain Alliance, asked the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to exempt small crypto payments, that is, to provide a de minis exemption for cryptocurrency transactions below a certain value, claiming that the IRS’ decision to tax virtual currencies as properties doesn’t benefit users and merchants. Doing this, they say in the response letter, would reduce the burden on smaller taxpayers and allow practitioners to instead focus efforts on larger clients requiring more comprehensive advice. The letter, containing the alliances’ comments regarding IRS 2019 ruling about virtual currencies also says that, while many issues were looked into by IRS, more clarification is still necessary.

Adoption news

  • On February 5, at height 616064, as of block 00000000000000000001145bf2e7cb7f04df55feaf3b55d9f6511522bbbf333f, Bitcoin surpassed 500 million transactions confirmed on the blockchain, since it went live in 2009, according to data website Satoshi. There have now been 500.0342 million transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain, almost doubling the number since September 2017 (251.6 million) when Satoshi started tracking it.
  • The first Spanish film to use blockchain copyrights has been released. The movie, a short named La Fièvre (The Fever), has been screened at a number of festivals, and its makers say they have used blockchain solutions provided by Spanish company SmartRights to secure copyright for its script and register intellectual property rights. The project also received assistance from NWC10Lab, a blockchain firm co-founded by one of the operators of the Bit2Me crypto exchange, reports Diario Bitcoin.
  • Blockchain company ConsenSys, founded by Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin, has laid off around 14% of its workforce, and it will also restructure. The company said that it will separate its software development business from its venture activities, with the cuts allowing it to “be better aligned with the needs of a focused software development company,” it said.
  • Speaking of ConsenSys, ConsenSys Digital Securities acquired an American broker-dealer, Heritage Financial Systems, registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). ConsenSys’ blockchain-powered commerce and finance arm ConsenSys Codefi says that this move will enable the company to enter the municipal finance market and make it even easier for municipal issuers to use Codefi software to tokenize their municipal offerings.
  • Ripple partnered with International Money Express, Inc., a money remittance services company focused primarily on the Latin America and Caribbean corridor. Per Ripple, the partnership will enable Intermex to leverage RippleNet for cross-border remittance services between the United States and Mexico. Intermex is processing more than 30 million payment transactions a year through a network of 100,000 payer locations.
  • Stories that claimed Luis Carlos Sarmiento Angulo, the wealthiest man in Colombia, has endorsed cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin were “fake news,” claims a new report. Per La Republica, the fake news reports claimed that Sarmiento Angulo had given an interview stating that BTC-related investments could help ordinary folks “become millionaires.” A spokesperson has said that the interview never took place.
  • The crypto exchange operator that is trying to buy the Mexican presidential plane has upped its bid a second time. As previously reported, Mexico’s Isatech initially offered a sum of its own cryptocurrency, as well as land it bought in a crypto deal in 2018 for the plane, and other state-owned aircraft. It then stated that it would increase its offer, by offering to supply the government with blockchain software. And, per a tweet from noteworthy Mexican journalist, Isatech’s latest bid has seen it go a step further – offering the state a 35% minority share in a theme park that is currently under construction in the Mexico City satellite city of Naucalpan.
  • The IOTA Foundation announced that they have expanded the scope for their intermediate update called Chrysalis. Chrysalis is the mainnet’s intermediate stage before coordicide is complete – it is separate to the coordicide efforts, and is aimed at improving usability of the current IOTA mainnet prior to coordicide. Coordicide (the death of the Coordinator) is a major upgrade and next step towards a permissionless and scalable distributed ledger technology (DLT), says the foundation.

Investment news

  • Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) said today that it has agreed to acquire Bridge2 Solutions, a provider of loyalty solutions for merchants and consumers. Following the completion of the transaction, Bakkt, a majority-owned subsidiary of ICE, intends to acquire Bridge2 Solutions from ICE using proceeds from Bakkt’s Series B round of funding, which is expected to close later this quarter. When Bridge2 Solutions ultimately joins Bakkt, the strategic combination will accelerate the development of the Bakkt consumer application, which will provide digital asset aggregation, conversion and payments through a single platform for consumers around the world, the company said.
  • Lightning Labs, developer of the Lightning Network, said it raised USD 10 million to further develop the Lightning payments technology and scale the developer ecosystem.
  • Arwen, a Boston-based blockchain-infrastructure company, has secured USD 3.3 million in venture funding, and will use it to expand its technology to institutional market participants and embed it in industry-leading digital asset platforms, says the company. The round was led by Slow Ventures with participation from Coinshares, Collaborative Fund, Underscore VC, and DG Lab Fund.
  • Samsung’s investment arm has joined Salesforce in making an investment in American firm Digital Asset, reports Decenter. The companies made their latest investment injection just over a month after Digital Asset concluded a USD 35 million Series C round. Digital Asset specializes in smart contract innovation.

Trading news

  • Chat app Line says that its Japanese Bitmax exchange has begun banking withdrawals and deposits services – and has successfully linked its crypto operations with its Line Pay e-pay services. In a press release, Line, which has linked its Bitmax operations to its chat app services, says its customers can now “choose to deposit yen from Line Pay, deposit from bank accounts linked to Line Pay or make deposits from bank accounts.”
  • Binance has launched a new Cross Collateral feature on its Binance Futures trading platform, allowing users to trade futures using crypto assets from their Binance Exchange Wallet as collateral, without the need to sell any coins. Per the exchange, the new feature allows traders to borrow USDT at 0% interest, using Binance’s own BUSD in the Exchange Wallet as collateral, and without having to transfer BUSD to their Futures wallet.
  • SettleBit, a provider of unified digital asset trading infrastructure, completed the first trade in partnership with digital asset custodian BitGo – USD 100,000 worth of BTC. BitGo now allows its institutional clients to trade directly from their account, with the partnership providing institutional investors with access to trading of digital assets, says the press release.
  • Clients of crypto security company Anchorage can now hold Cosmos (ATOM) in their custody accounts and buy and sell ATOM through Anchorage Trading. The company added that it is the first institutional crypto custodian to support ATOM, saying that Cosmos is a proof of stake network, and that their clients will be able to participate in securing the network through staking, but also earn rewards of additional ATOM for their efforts in validating the Cosmos blockchain.

Regulation news

  • Ukraine is already monitoring cryptocurrency transactions being made in the country, even though the nation’s proposed monitoring laws have not yet been promulgated. quotes the Ukrainian Ministry of Finance chief Oksana Markarova as stating police agencies have “launched several investigations” into a number of cryptocurrency account holders based in the country.
  • The SEC has concluded its investigation of Colorado-based cryptocurrency company Riot Blockchain after almost two years of investigation, and it does not intend to recommend any enforcement actions against the company, reports Denver Business Journal.