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UK's 'Landmark Statement' on Crypto and Smart Contracts + More News

UK's 'Landmark Statement' on Crypto and Smart Contracts + More News 101
Source: iStock/oversnap

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.

Regulation news

  • Providing legal certainty on the status of cryptoassets and smart contracts for the first time in the UK, the landmark statement recognizes the asset class as property and smart contracts as enforceable under English and Welsh law, law firm Linklaters said. The firm, as well as another law firm, Eversheds Sutherland, both assisted UK Jurisdiction Taskforce in clarifying legal status of cryptoassets and smart contracts. Moreover, the report by the Taskforce recognized that a private key can be a signature. "Cryptoassets are agreed to be treated in principle to be property, bringing the legal treatment of tokens into line with public perception. One point to note however, is that the report states that cryptoassets cannot be the object of bailment as they cannot be physically possessed. Whilst true, this is not the full picture for cryptoassets linked to underlying physical assets, as those underlying can be held physically, and it would have been helpful if the report had recognised this," James Burnie, Head of Blockchain and Cryptoassets at Eversheds Sutherland, was quoted as saying in a press release.
  • An analyst has called on the South Korean government to clarify its official stance on blockchain gaming. Earlier this month, the country’s gaming regulator, the Game Rating and Administration Committee, refused to issue domestic developer NodeBric’s Infinity Star with a license due to the fact that the title lets players trade items for Ethereum ERC 721 Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs). In an op-ed piece for Money Today, analyst Choi Sung-oh stated that the gaming industry now fears that blockchain games have been banned for domestic customers, and states that while the government remains inactive, competitors in China are cornering the blockchain gaming market.
  • A top South Korean lawyer has stated that existing inheritance and gift tax laws may already apply to cryptocurrency holdings, but states that regulations may be too hazy for many legal experts to navigate. In a column for News Tomato, Jung Jae-wook, the former legal director of the Seoul Bar Association and a prominent blockchain lawyer, said that tax authorities are “hesitant” about crypto tax-related matters, and say individuals are unsure about how to file cryptocurrency earnings.
  • The Finnish Financial Supervisory Authority (FIN-FSA) has registered one of the most popular peer-to-peer exchanges, LocalBitcoins, as an official virtual currency provider. According to the announcement, starting with November 2019, only registered virtual currency providers that fulfill the legal requirements are allowed to operate in Finland, and the FIN-FSA has determined that LocalBitcoins "has suitable procedures in place to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing, that customer assets are adequately held and safeguarded, and that the company’s management and key personnel fulfill the fitness and propriety criteria."

Adoption news

  • The Venezuelan government is set to hand out yet more of its oil-backed, state-issued Petro cryptocurrency. Per a tweet from media outlet Venepress, the government is targeting senior citizens with its latest giveaway – and will gift around USD 80 worth of Petro tokens to pensioners and war veterans over the Christmas period.
  • Payment network giant Visa has been developing a blockchain system for sharing sensitive data among multiple parties, called LucidiTEE, described in a paper published by Visa’s research and development arm. The paper describes a system for sharing sensitive personal data on a blockchain, utilizing a trusted execution environment (TEE) to crunch data. The first application of LucidiTEE is sharing data between customers and financial apps.
  • SBI Ripple Asia and SBI Remit, an international money transfer service business operator and a subsidiary of SBI FinTech Solutions, announced that the companies have started the first Japan-Vietnam money transfer service in real currency utilizing distributed ledger technology (DLT), with a Vietnamese bank, Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank. "Adoption of RippleNet [...] enables the real-time and low-cost transfer of funds between SBI Remit and Tien Phong Bank,“ the announcement says.
  • Businesses, six universities and local government agencies in Busan, South Korea, have agreed on a blockchain and cryptocurrency collaboration deal. The area was earlier this year granted regulation-free status for blockchain technology. And the new deal will see the parties work together on a range of cryptocurrency- and blockchain-powered manufacturing, finance, distribution, social and cultural solutions, reports Newsis.
  • Facebook's Libra project said that since the testnet was reset in September 2019 to encourage developers to test Libra network functionality, more than 51,000 transactions were logged. The post claims that the community of developers "has responded enthusiastically," logging 34 projects in seven weeks since launch of the testnet, including: 10 wallets, 11 blockchain developers, 11 clients, 2 IDEs (integrated development environments) and 1 API (application programming interface).

Exchanges news

  • The BBC reports that some USD 450 million worth of cryptocurrency from the BTC-e exchange or its spin-off exchange WEX may have ended up in a fund controlled by Russia’s top intelligence agency, the Federal Security Bureau (FSB) – the successor to the Soviet-era’s KGB. The news outlet claims it has found audio files dating back to 2018 that appear to feature an FSB agent speaking to a co-founder of BTC-e and one of the brokers of the sale of WEX about handing over funds to the FSB.
  • Huobi has reiterated its intentions to target expansion in Argentina and Brazil. Per media outlet Criptonoticas, the company stated, “We have plans to expand throughout Latin America, starting with Brazil.” The exchange has also confirmed its plans to open a new data center in Argentina and says it will create 100 jobs – after making a similar announcement earlier this month. Huobi says its presence in Latin America will help stimulate the area’s economy.
  • Neil Bush, the brother of former President George W. Bush and son of the late President George H.W. Bush, allegedly met with Ruja Ignatova, aka the “CryptoQueen”, who is currently at large after being being indicted on money laundering and fraud charges via the OneCoin cryptocurrency scam. Law360 reported, citing the case transcripts, that Bush was paid USD 300,000 to attend a meeting in Hong Kong at which Ignatova was present. He was interviewed twice by the government about this issue before the subpoena was cut.

Investment news

  • Sam Cassatt, the chief strategy officer (CSO) at blockchain firm ConsenSys is launching a new blockchain-oriented investment firm, called Aligned Capital, backed by ConsenSys founder Joe Lubin. The blog post states that the company will be seeking to raise USD 50 million for its first fund, and the three areas it will be investing include blockchain and crypto, artificial intelligence, and healthcare.
  • iSTOX, the regulated capital markets platform that supports the one-stop issuance, custody, and trading of digitized securities, announced that it has secured USD 5 million in funding from Japan-based Tokai Tokyo Financial Holdings (Tokai) via its Singapore subsidiary, Tokai Tokyo Global Investments. The emailed announcement says that this partnership gives iSTOX a strong strategic gateway to accredited and institutional investors and issuers across Japan through Tokai’s extensive network and that iSTOX is in the process of establishing similar links to other key markets across Asia.
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