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Morning News: G20 Needs Recommendations, NSA Monitors BTC Users

  • G20 Asks for Crypto Regulation Recommendations by July
  • NSA Has Been Monitoring Bitcoin Users since at Least 2013
  • Japanese Luxury Clothing Store to Start Accepting Bitcoin
  • Experts: Phishing is a “Serious Threat” for Crypto Investors

Catch up on the most essential cryptocurrency and blockchain news stories breaking in Asia and the Americas while the rest of the world was asleep.

G20 Asks for Crypto Regulation Recommendations by July
G20 finance leaders asked the Financial Stability Board, in consultation with other standard-settng bodies, including The Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures and The International Organisation of Securities Commissions, and The Financial Action Task Force to report in July 2018 on their work on crypto-assets, according to an official communiqué annex. As for now, leaders have concluded their cryptocurrency discussions by saying they will “continue to monitor” markets and exchange platforms, but, as widely forecast, stopped well short of imposing any sort of multinational regulations at this stage. The main reason for the de facto impasse appears to be a lack of consensus, with some countries strongly in favor of regulations and others vehemently opposed. Per an official communiqué, finance ministers and central bank governors stated, “We call on international standard-setting bodies to continue their monitoring of crypto-assets and their risks, according to their mandates, and assess multilateral responses as needed.” The ministers gave their blessings to the Financial Action Task Force, a 37-country group set up in Paris by the G7 countries. The task force’s mission is fighting financial crime, with the aim of eliminating cryptocurrency-based fraud and money-laundering.

Snowden Papers: NSA Has Been Monitoring Bitcoin Users since at Least 2013
The US National Security Agency (NSA) has been tracking bitcoin users around the world for several years, according to papers released by ex-CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Per a report from March 2013, the NSA catalogs and cross-references data, allowing it to track down BTC senders and recipients, as part of a project it calls Oakstar. It appears that the mission was originally founded to fight terrorism, but the NSA has also used Oakstar to investigate cases of suspected money laundering. The documents show NSA officials calling bitcoin the agency’s “#1 priority,” and, one memo shows evidence that the NSA collected password information and monitored users’ internet activity.

Japanese Luxury Clothing Store to Start Accepting Bitcoin
Japanese fashion retailer Samantha Thavasa says it will begin accepting bitcoin payment. The luxury retailer will incorporate a payment platforms developed by Tokyo-based cryptocurrency exchange bitFlyer. Samantha Thavasa officials say they will begin by offering bitcoin services at the brand’s flagship store in Omotesando, Tokyo, where many of its clientele are overseas tourists. Should integration prove bug-free, the company says it will begin allowing bitcoin settlement at all of its Japanese stores. The retailer has some 130 stores nationwide, and its handbags, jeans and other items enjoy enormous popularity among shoppers from South Korea and China. The move comes hot on the heels of an announcement by electronics retailer BIC Camera that it will go ahead, as expected, with a plan to allow crypto payments at its stores nationwide.

Japanese Security Experts: Phishing is a “Serious Threat” for Crypto Investors
Japanese cybersecurity firm Trend Micro has warned that phishing attacks on cryptocurrency investors is on the rise, and that criminals are now “seriously targeting crypto users” in the country. Per Trend Micro, cybercriminals in Japan are now moving away from malicious code and malware attacks, and are instead directly targeting users by telephoning or emailing them, posing as representatives of large cryptocurrency exchange sites or wallet providers. The company gave examples whereby criminals had earlier this month attempted to convince users to reveal their passwords and login details to people posing as bitFlyer or Bitbank employees. Cybercrooks have set up dozens of fake net pages, designed to look identical to genuine Japanese wallet websites, hoping to harvest the logins and passwords of unsuspecting users.

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