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https://cointelegraph.com/news/a-storm-is-brewing-between-state-regulators-and-the-occ-over-fintech-licensing https://cointelegraph.com/news/a-storm-is-brewing-between-state-regulators-and-the-occ-over-fintech-licensing <div><img src=”https://s3.cointelegraph.com/uploads/2020-12/daf630b0-f5ea-433b-b96b-3c4076798f0c.jpg” class=”ff-og-image-inserted”></div><p>A leading association of state banking regulators is trying to put the U.S. national banking regulator in its place on the issue of fintech registration.</p><p>Per a Dec. 22 <a href=”https://www.csbs.org/newsroom/csbs-files-new-complaint-against-occ” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener nofollow”>filing</a>, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, or CSBS, says the impending approval of Figure Technology’s bank charter a bridge too far. <a href=”https://cointelegraph.com/news/figure-technologies-releases-fund-services-offerings-on-blockchain” data-amp=”https://cointelegraph-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/cointelegraph.com/news/figure-technologies-releases-fund-services-offerings-on-blockchain/amp”>Figure operates</a> blockchain-backed lending and investment services. It announced its <a href=”https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201106005466/en/Figure-Applies-for-National-Bank-Charter-From-the-OCC” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener nofollow”>application</a> to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for a charter at the beginning of November. At the time, CEO Mike Cagney noted the relative convenience of a national charter, saying:”we’ll have over 200 state licenses next year without such a charter.”</p><p>The OCC, which is the Treasury office responsible for national banks, first floated the idea of special purpose <a href=”https://www.occ.gov/publications-and-resources/publications/banker-education/files/exploring-special-purpose-nat-bank-charters-fintech-companies.html” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener nofollow”>bank charters</a> for fintech firms back in 2016 under then-Comptroller Thomas Curry. State regulators including the CSBS and New York’s Department of Financial Services, or NYDFS, immediately dogpiled the proposal as operating in defiance of the definition of “bank,” as well as in overstepping the OCC’s own charter. The CSBS, for instance, resolutely refers to the OCC’s work as “the Nonbank Charter Program.”</p><p>From the perspective of the CSBS, the situation only got worse in July of 2018, when then-Comptroller Joseph Otting <a href=”https://www.occ.gov/news-issuances/news-releases/2018/nr-occ-2018-74.html” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener nofollow”>said</a> the OCC was open for applications. CSBS <a href=”https://www.csbs.org/policy/csbs-complaint-concerning-occ-fintech-charter” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener nofollow”>filed another suit</a> later that year. </p><p>The court ultimately dismissed the case on the grounds that: “CSBS continues to lack standing and its claims remain unripe.” In that decision, however, the court attributed that “unripeness” to the fact that no fintech had yet applied for a charter, much less received one. </p><p>A month later in the final judgment in the NYDFS case, a Manhattan judge <a href=”https://beta.documentcloud.org/documents/20436785-final-judgment-in-nydfs-v-occ-102319″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener nofollow”>found</a> that the OCC’s <a href=”https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/12/5.20″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener nofollow”>statutory authority</a> “is set aside with respect to all fintech applicants seeking a national bank charter that do not accept deposits,” dealing a blow to the OCC. </p><template data-name=”subscription_form” data-type=”law_decoded”></template><p>But while the OCC has appealed the NYDFS case to the second circuit, the CSBS is using the Figure application to attack the whole program, seeking:</p><blockquote>”Declaratory and injunctive relief declaring the OCC’s Nonbank Charter Program and the Figure Charter unlawful and enjoining the OCC from soliciting, accepting, or approving applications for Nonbank Charters, including the Figure Charter Application.”</blockquote><p>Margaret Liu, CSBS’s senior vice president and deputy general counsel, told Cointelegraph that Figure’s particular business is not the problem. The firm is just the first fintech to get this far in the OCC’s licensing, which “made the issue more than ripe.” She continued: “The timing has to do with the fact that <em>a</em> company has submitted a final application. This is not about Figure.”</p><p>Central to the argument is whether a financial entity that does not hold deposits, like Figure, can be considered a bank and is thus subject to the OCC’s national jurisdiction. Back in 2018, Otting’s announcement maintained that the OCC already had the authority to charter “companies that engage in one of the core banking functions (paying checks, lending money, or taking deposits),” which did not necessarily require those banks to take deposits. This frees those banks from requirements like holding FDIC insurance and possibly oversight from the Federal Reserve Board.</p><p>The CSBS disagrees. “We’re suing for the same reason we’ve been suing all along” Margaret Liu told Cointelegraph. “Being a regulator does not mean that you get to redefine what a bank is.” Yesterday’s complaint argues: </p><blockquote><strong>”It is well settled by court precedent, federal banking laws, and historical chartering practice that to lawfully commence the ‘business of banking’ under the NBA, a national bank must, at a minimum, engage in receiving deposits and apply for and obtain federal deposit insurance.”</strong></blockquote><p>A representative for the OCC declined to comment on the litigation. </p><p>Back in September, the CSBS <a href=”https://cointelegraph.com/news/state-by-state-licensing-for-crypto-and-payments-firms-in-the-us-just-got-much-easier” data-amp=”https://cointelegraph-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/cointelegraph.com/news/state-by-state-licensing-for-crypto-and-payments-firms-in-the-us-just-got-much-easier/amp”>announced a new program</a> that would simplify the registration process for national firms looking to get licenses in many states. At the time, Brooks congratulated the conference on:</p><blockquote>”Recognizing what we have been saying for years that for national financial service businesses, it makes little sense to have a patchwork of regulation and supervision. While the efforts alleviate the inherent challenges facing a system based on 50 state laws and licensing regimes, only federal law and the uniform regulatory framework it provides fully addresses these issues.”</blockquote><p>Clearly the CSBS and OCC have different ideas about what a uniform regulatory framework means. </p><p>Brooks, for his part, has made the OCC a <a href=”https://cointelegraph.com/news/us-banking-regulator-green-lights-crypto-custody-at-federally-chartered-banks” data-amp=”https://cointelegraph-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/cointelegraph.com/news/us-banking-regulator-green-lights-crypto-custody-at-federally-chartered-banks/amp”>beacon of crypto regulation</a> at the federal level since joining the office from Coinbase’s legal team back in March. Though President Trump recently nominated him to become full comptroller, the appointment is <a href=”https://cointelegraph.com/news/occ-works-to-win-back-house-democrats-still-miffed-at-leader-s-focus-on-crypto” data-amp=”https://cointelegraph-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/cointelegraph.com/news/occ-works-to-win-back-house-democrats-still-miffed-at-leader-s-focus-on-crypto/amp”>still awaiting Senate confirmation</a>. With a new Congress convening in less than a month, there is still no word on whether the Senate will see fit to schedule it. </p><p><strong><a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org”></a></strong> <a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org/acceptable.html”>(Why?)</a></p>Wed, 23 Dec 2020 17:55:03 +0000Cointelegraph By Kollen Post en text/html https://cointelegraph.com/news/a-storm-is-brewing-between-state-regulators-and-the-occ-over-fintech-licensing Banks Banking Bitcoin Regulation Law Government
https://cointelegraph.com/news/gifting-crypto-to-loved-ones-this-holiday-educate-them-first https://cointelegraph.com/news/gifting-crypto-to-loved-ones-this-holiday-educate-them-first <div><img src=”https://s3.cointelegraph.com/uploads/2020-12/badf14ec-bc0b-4185-bb63-05a463cb7231.jpg” class=”ff-og-image-inserted”></div><p>The mainstream has taken a growing interest in cryptocurrency as the price of Bitcoin (<a href=”https://cointelegraph.com/bitcoin-price-index”>BTC</a>) continues to reach all-time highs. To put this interest into perspective, researchers at the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance recently found that 101 million people across the globe <a href=”https://cointelegraph.com/news/100m-people-worldwide-now-use-crypto-based-assets-says-cambridge-study”>currently hold Bitcoin</a> and other digital assets. The report states that in 2018, findings estimated the number of identity-verified digital asset users to be about 35 million globally.</p><p>With such growth underway, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that crypto holders would get the idea of gifting cryptocurrency this holiday season. Social distancing requirements amid the pandemic have led to virtual holiday gatherings and digital gifts being sent across various geographies.</p><p>Yet, while the idea of gifting cryptocurrency to friends and family may sound appealing, there are considerations to take into account before sending them to your loved ones — especially newcomers. </p><h3>Education comes first </h3><p>Bill Zielke, chief marketing officer at BitPay, a leading Bitcoin (<a href=”https://cointelegraph.com/bitcoin-price-index”>BTC</a>) payment service provider, told Cointelegraph that sending crypto person-to-person has always been popular, noting that the firm expects more consumers to do so this holiday given the bullish market. “While Bitcoin remains the crypto of choice for purchases, <a href=”https://cointelegraph.com/xrp-price-index”>XRP</a> and Ether (<a href=”https://cointelegraph.com/ethereum-price-index”>ETH</a>) have dramatically increased in popularity, representing 8% and 7% of BitPay’s transactions respectively,” he said. </p><p>However, when it comes to sending cryptocurrency to new users, Zielke explained that education is key, as there are many coins and several ways to store them. There are also questions such as whether the wallet being used is open-source and noncustodial. Perhaps more importantly, the person that has received crypto should know what these terms mean.</p><p>The saying, “<a href=”https://cointelegraph.com/news/simple-steps-to-keep-your-crypto-safe”>Not your keys, not your Bitcoin</a>” may come to mind here. While hardware and paper wallets are known for being more secure forms of cryptocurrency storage, there are huge responsibilities that come along with these mechanisms. </p><p>Dave Jevans, CEO of blockchain intelligence firm CipherTrace, told Cointelegraph that when sending crypto to a beginner, it’s critical to ensure they understand this basic rule: “Your value, your responsibility.” Jevans shared that it’s essential for newcomers to comprehend the importance of safeguarding their private key, recovery phrase storage, and having a secure place to store the crypto once it has been received, or else there is the risk of losing access to funds.</p><p>For those considering a more mainstream approach, “Crypto Wendy O,” a crypto YouTuber, told Cointelegraph that she recommends new users to set up an account on a well-known exchange:</p><blockquote>“I don’t like the idea of a newcomer setting up a ledger or paper wallet, as this is very unrealistic and complicated. If a user loses their private keys, it’s gone in these instances. With Coinbase or Celsius for example the crypto can be accessed easier.”</blockquote><p>However, despite Coinbase being one of the most popular digital asset platforms in the United States, there are also downsides to the service. Coinbase and other popular exchanges like Binance <a href=”https://cointelegraph.com/news/binance-and-coinbase-suffer-outages-as-bitcoin-s-price-soars”>have been experiencing technical issues</a> as the price of Bitcoin climbs higher. While regular crypto users may be aware of these service failures, this could be very concerning for newcomers. </p><h3>Alternative ways to gift crypto </h3><p>While sending cryptocurrency directly to another user via a wallet address may be the most common way of gifting crypto, alternatives such as gift cards and ATM vouchers should also be considered. </p><p>Zielke shared that BitPay has seen a spike in users turning crypto into gift cards. “During the months of November and December, gift card purchases using crypto have been our top-performing category,” he said. With well-known retailers like Amazon <a href=”https://www.investopedia.com/articles/company-insights/090216/when-will-amazon-accept-bitcoin-amzn.asp#:~:text=Even%20though%20Amazon%20does%20not,eGifter.com%2C%20Gyft%20Inc.” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener nofollow”>accepting</a> gift cards purchased with Bitcoin through several native crytpo services, this could be a great option for gifting crypto to newcomers. </p><p>Additionally, Jevans noted that crypto ATMs such as Coinme can provide depositors with vouchers redeemable by anyone. While this may make a great gift choice, Jevans remarked that depositing $250 or more will require Know Your Customer verification for most Bitcoin ATMs in the United States.</p><h3>Crypto donations are also on the rise</h3><p>Aside from giving cryptocurrency to friends and family, crypto donations are also a great way to give back this holiday season. Interestingly enough, this year has seen a number of new crypto-related fundraising opportunities from mainstream charities. </p><p>For example, “Bitcoin Tuesday,” which was scheduled for Dec. 1 this year, <a href=”https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcointuesday-to-become-one-of-the-largest-ever-crypto-donation-events”>encouraged users to make cryptocurrency donations</a> to organizations such as Save the Children, No Kid Hungry and the American Cancer Society. The Giving Block, the crypto donations company behind the virtual event, noted that this year’s celebration was an order of magnitude bigger than last year’s. Most recently, The Giving Block partnered with The American Cancer Society to create the first-ever cancer research fund based exclusively on crypto donations. </p><p>Alex Wilson, co-founder of The Giving Block, told Cointelegraph that donating cryptocurrency creates a virtuous cycle of giving, noting that higher market prices often result in more donations, leading to mainstream adoption. “It’s particularly beneficial this year because crypto asset prices have risen so dramatically,” he said.</p><p>It’s also notable that The Salvation Army is accepting cryptocurrency donations this Christmas, launching its first-ever “crypto kettle” in the United States’ west. This unique initiative allows donors to give Bitcoin and Ether directly to The Salvation Army, one of the largest charities in the world. In a recent blog post, the organization <a href=”https://westernusa.salvationarmy.org/intermountain_us_west/news/in-a-virtual-year-the-salvation-army-turns-to-cryptocurrency/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener nofollow”>noted</a> that these transactions are easy to make, and most importantly, come with tax benefits. </p><p>The tax benefits associated with crypto donations are certainly a consideration to be taken into account. According to Taxbit’s “<a href=”https://taxbit.com/blog/cryptocurrency-gifts-donations-tax-guide/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener nofollow”>Cryptocurrency Gifts and Donations Tax Guide</a>,” donating cryptocurrency to a qualified charitable organization is not a taxable event. The guide further notes that donors will not realize income, gain or loss from making a donation. Moreover, if a donor has held cryptocurrency for more than a year prior to the donation, they will be eligible for the itemized charitable deduction for the fair market value of the cryptocurrency at the time of contribution, in addition to not incurring a taxable gain on an appreciated asset. </p><p>Justin Woodward, a tax attorney at TaxBit, told Cointelegraph that there are tremendous tax incentives to donating cryptocurrency through an unrealized gain position. “Donating appreciated capital assets to a qualified charity allows you to avoid paying capital gains on the eventual sale,” he said.</p><h3>Next year may be crypto’s tipping point</h3><p>While there are clearly a number of ways to gift crypto this year, education is still key when it comes to deciding how to give back. Moreover, it’s apparent that the widespread use of cryptocurrency is still very much underway. As such, Zielke from BitPay remarked that 2021 may be the tipping point for crypto to really “become a cool gift to receive for special occasions.”</p><template data-name=”subscription_form” data-type=”defi_newsletter”></template><p><strong><a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org”></a></strong> <a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org/acceptable.html”>(Why?)</a></p>Wed, 23 Dec 2020 17:47:00 +0000Cointelegraph By Rachel Wolfson en text/html https://cointelegraph.com/news/gifting-crypto-to-loved-ones-this-holiday-educate-them-first Cryptocurrencies Adoption Coinbase Taxes Digital Currency Education Christmas
https://cointelegraph.com/news/users-vs-governments-the-infinity-war-for-blockchain-privacy-may-be-over https://cointelegraph.com/news/users-vs-governments-the-infinity-war-for-blockchain-privacy-may-be-over <div><img src=”https://s3.cointelegraph.com/uploads/2020-12/1c94a5e0-5b82-4118-a43d-5106c9e0cf3c.jpg” class=”ff-og-image-inserted”></div><p>The unique power of blockchain and cryptocurrency can also be considered their weakness. Crypto users gain unparalleled privacy for financial transactions through a decentralized transactional system. Governments, however, demand transparency in financial transactions for legal concerns. This creates a paradox. People are less inclined to use financial instruments if, in doing so, they expose their money to the world. Conversely, there are a number of regulations requiring financial institutions to counteract terrorism and money laundering — serious concerns for many governments.</p><p>The crux of the issue is that most public blockchains require a consensus of all participants to validate transactions. How can both sides — individual users and governments — achieve their conflicting objectives when they’re diametrically opposed?</p><p>A potential solution to this problem involves balancing the privacy concerns of users with the centralized oversight necessary for governments to ensure that regulations like Anti-Money Laundering, Know Your Customer and Combating the Financing of Terrorism are observed. Implementing measures for confidential transactions alongside those for governmental surveillance strikes a delicate balance in which cryptocurrency assets remain discreet yet subject to the laws governing finance around the world.</p><p><strong><em>Related: </em></strong><a href=”https://cointelegraph.com/news/comparing-money-laundering-with-cryptocurrencies-and-fiat”><strong><em>Comparing money laundering with cryptocurrencies and fiat</em></strong></a></p><h2>Countering terrorism and money laundering</h2><p>The government’s need to monitor cryptocurrency transactions for counterterrorism and AML purposes is critical for public safety, especially since these two areas are interrelated. Money laundering can be used to fund terrorist activities, which — like everything else — require funding, even if it doesn’t involve money laundering. Surveying the money flow between parties on popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (<a href=”https://cointelegraph.com/bitcoin-price-index”>BTC</a>), Ether (<a href=”https://cointelegraph.com/ethereum-price-index”>ETH</a>) and others can provide invaluable information for preventing these crimes. Regulatory bodies need insight into which parties are paying whom and why, at the very least.</p><p>However, cryptocurrency’s very nature makes it easy to mask these and other transactions. Bitcoin may be traceable with modern tools, but some transactions are completely untraceable with other cryptocurrencies. These legitimate concerns partly explain the formation of organizations like the Financial Action Task Force, which exists to counteract money laundering and terrorist financing, and whose efforts would greatly benefit from improved visibility into cryptocurrency transactions.</p><p><strong><em>Related: </em></strong><a href=”https://cointelegraph.com/news/a-minister-s-look-at-what-regulators-expect-from-the-industry”><strong><em>A minister’s look at what regulators expect from the industry</em></strong></a></p><h2>Privacy matters</h2><p>The general public’s privacy <a href=”https://www.forbes.com/sites/ktorpey/2019/10/17/major-bitcoin-miner-warns-the-cryptocurrency-needs-better-privacy/#75eb97c35260″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener nofollow”>issues</a> about using cryptocurrencies are, in many ways, opposed to the visibility the government requires for AML and terrorism efforts. People simply want to keep their business as discreet with cryptocurrencies as it is with conventional currency transactions. However, the transaction validation features of public blockchains can potentially expose this information, invading users’ financial privacy.</p><p><strong><em>Related: </em></strong><a href=”https://cointelegraph.com/news/blockchain-can-provide-the-right-to-privacy-that-everyone-deserves”><strong><em>Blockchain can provide the right to privacy that everyone deserves</em></strong></a></p><p>The first element of a solution providing consumer privacy in tandem with governmental oversight is to redress this issue. There are confidential transaction features — some of which are used by cryptocurrencies Monero (<a href=”https://cointelegraph.com/xmr-price-index”>XMR</a>) or Zcash (<a href=”https://cointelegraph.com/zec-price-index”>ZEC</a>) — that obfuscate the amount and participants of a transaction while still validating it for a blockchain. These cryptocurrencies provide measures to prevent people from knowing the origin, the destination and the amount of a specific transaction. These approaches assuage many of the privacy concerns of cryptocurrency holders.</p><p><strong><em>Related: </em></strong><a href=”https://cointelegraph.com/news/dash-claims-inaccurate-categorization-as-shapeshift-delists-privacy-coins”><strong><em>Dash claims ‘inaccurate categorization’ as ShapeShift delists privacy coins</em></strong></a></p><h2>Cryptocurrency surveillance</h2><p>By pairing these privacy methods with the following ideas for cryptocurrency surveillance, governments can monitor activity for counter-terrorism and AML purposes. Say, for example, there is a cryptocurrency backed by an organization consisting of a finite number of banks. The first thing users would have to do is onboard with those institutions — much as they would with any other — which provides an initial layer of insight into cryptocurrency behavior while supporting mandates like KYC. Then, after users issue transactions to others enrolled in this organization, they would be obligated to disclose the details to one of the banking members for proof. This obligation can be enforced on the transactor by the use of cryptography so that the validators can ascertain that the disclosure has been correctly made.</p><p><strong><em>Related: </em></strong><a href=”https://cointelegraph.com/news/the-data-economy-is-a-dystopian-nightmare”><strong><em>The data economy is a dystopian nightmare</em></strong></a></p><p>Such an approach would enable the government to collectively ask each bank the particulars of a transaction so it can monitor the money flow. The government would therefore have central oversight courtesy of the individual financial institutions’ input. With this paradigm, the banks validate transactions, the government collects all the data for central analysis and surveillance, and consumer privacy is upheld among financial organizations and cryptocurrency users. There are additional cryptographic approaches that, when <a href=”https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/the-reality-of-blockchain/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener nofollow”>coupled</a> with blockchain’s cryptographic underpinnings, can support this model for both privacy and regulatory adherence.</p><p><strong><em>Related: </em></strong><a href=”https://cointelegraph.com/news/you-should-care-about-decentralized-identity-in-the-wake-of-covid-19″><strong><em>You should care about decentralized identity in the wake of COVID-19</em></strong></a></p><p>Cryptocurrency usage is rapidly evolving. It’s unacceptable for financial institutions to tell national or international regulators that they don’t know whether transactions are legitimate. It’s equally unacceptable to expose the financial prowess of legitimate users to everyone on a blockchain. </p><p class=”post-content__disclaimer”><em>The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.</em></p><div readability=”12″><p><strong>Debasish Ray Chawdhuri</strong> is the senior principal engineer at Talentica. Debasish is an IIT Delhi alumnus and a researcher who has worked closely with founders of high-growth startups and enabled the adoption of emerging technologies like Blockchain. He has published several research papers on privacy, cryptocurrency, smart contracts and cryptography on prominent platforms like IEEE and Springer. He also authored a renowned book on data structure and algorithms.</p></div><template data-name=”subscription_form” data-type=”law_decoded”></template><p><strong><a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org”></a></strong> <a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org/acceptable.html”>(Why?)</a></p>Wed, 23 Dec 2020 17:31:55 +0000Cointelegraph By Debasish Ray Chawdhuri en text/html https://cointelegraph.com/news/users-vs-governments-the-infinity-war-for-blockchain-privacy-may-be-over Cryptocurrencies AML KYC FATF Privacy