G20 Summit Proposes To Adopt, Regulate and NOT Ban Cryptocurrency

From reading various news articles I’m going to summarize what I think are the few key take aways from the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

I’ve simplified these into two points although they could have been broken down I think it really boils down to two key conclusions.

Cryptocurrency Should Be Adopted

The G20 agrees that cryptocurrency is part of a transition to digital economy and that eventually fiat (cash) will die.  They also recognize the power of cryptocurrency to bring finance and banking to those who normally wouldn’t have had access.  In a way it is gratifying that they are essentially saying between the lines that cryptocurrency and being your own bank are a good thing for everyone.

I also think it is an act of desperation and I will get more into that in my conclusion.

Cryptocurrency Must Be Regulated

There were several discussions regarding the regulation of cryptocurrency.  As we can see and as I suspected, the main drive is to control and tax cryptocurrency.  They want rules around it so that they aren’t cut out of taxes and control as a middleman.  A strong focus was put on preventing criminal activity and money laundering (you know stuff that NEVER happens with our current financial system).

Why have they adopted this position?

I think it’s natural because as I’ve said companies and people will move to whatever country is friendly to them.  It is almost an act of desperation because I think regulators can see cryptocurrency could head underground and out of the reach of any regulators if they keep cracking down.  I am in no way equating cryptocurrency with piracy or illegal activity but I will say this a similar thing that happened in the days of filesharing such as Napster and Limewire etc… Authorities didn’t understand the new economy was digital and that people wanted to download digital copies of their favorite songs and videos.  Because that void was never filled by the RIAA and MPAA, piracy was rampant and their crackdowns only increased it.  Initially piracy was largely underground but then Bittorrent came out as a decentralized filesharing platform and it has not only made the problem worse but virtually unstoppable.

Cryptocurrency with money being at stake I think would become even larger if the crackdowns continue.  Cryptocurrency would then largely be traded directly without the involvement of fiat if regulators, governments or exchanges (such as Bittrex who recently moved overseas to Malta because they offered them a better deal than the threats they were receiving in the USA).

If Venezuela, Russia or China is more friendly in the end people will move their business and crypto to whatever country they trust.  This can happen in an instant so, really, the regulators should treat the relevant parties well or they can pack up with all of their money.  There is no option to “freeze their accounts” for political reasons like the days of the past.

The rough ride is probably far from over as there will be reasons that governments and regulators may make decisions that are contrary to the G20 logic but I think in the end, reason will win out.

US Cryptocurrency and ICO Regulations Push Business Overseas

First of all bravo for Coinbase, with a lot at stake itself, for getting this issue right in the following quote:

There is so much uncertainty about the definition of a security and the scope of regulatory control that the market is being chilled. This is bad for everyone because the technology won’t stop — it will simply move overseas and we will miss out on the opportunity to cultivate the benefits in the U.S.

Much like I’ve been saying is that governments who are overly aggressive, ambiguous and don’t create a fair playing field for cryptocurrency and related companies will be sidelined.  Cryptocurrency cannot be contained by borders anymore than the web could be.  Naturally, I do agree certain practical laws and regulations should apply but the laws should be clear and easy to follow.  If companies are essentially being threatened, raided and faced with uncertainty it hurts both the company and investors.  Ultimately as I’ve said before it will drive these huge sums of money away to countries that treat cryptocurrency users, traders and companies well.

There are so many conflicting statements from governments around the world and multiple bodies in the US.  It sometimes seems as if government officials and bankers who have a lot of input in these matters diverge on the matter.  This is OK but it should not be reflected by creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion whether by design or by fluke.

We all see the market has been impacted significantly with nothing but negative press for cryptocurrency but I believe it will resolve on the upside as investors realize it isn’t going anywhere and no single government or bank can ever stop it.  In fact I predict that the market may just start using more privacy and security based coins and trade them exclusively and directly for goods, bypassing fiat altogether.  Ironically this is probably the last thing governments and banks want but this is where all of this action is heading towards in my opinion.

 

SEC Helps and Hinders ICO’s with Reg-A+

Basically the SEC is making it easier for cryptocurrencies to legally IPO with an ICO if that makes sense.  They have lifted the caq from 50 million to 75 million and a few ICOs have already launched under this rule.  The SEC’s aggressive pursuit of cryptocurrency projects, traders and exchanges will either have one of two effects in my opinion.

  1. The SEC could create a strong cryptocurrency ecosystem if it is fair with its rules and regulations.  This would be positive for the US cryptocurrency market.
  2. The SEC could completely alienate cryptocurrency users, traders and exchanges and force the majority of money to move offshore and this would be disasterous for the US economy but not necessarily cryptocurrency in the longterm.

It is concerning that the SEC seems to be going after even large firms and ICOs like tZero.  If they are trying to show no one will be exempt they’re doing a good job but they’re also giving incentive to ICOs and related business to move away from SEC jurisdiction.  Another concern is that the SEC as a branch of the US government can now legally and literally censor ICOs.  If an ICO is coming out that restores free speech and the US government doesn’t like this do you think they will be allowed to ICO by the SEC?  It could lead to far more than just financial consequences very quickly.

Only time will tell where things head but so far I suspect things are heading out of the SEC jurisdiction and people, especially investors, may view US cryptocurrency companies as a ticking time bomb or at least a liability.

 

How Governments Should Handle Crypto and ICOs

First of all after seeing so much confusion, panic and misinformation in the news, it is about time each country made a dedicated website for cryptocurrency.  The winners will be the countries who clearly communicate their policy, laws and intentions on handling cryptocurrencies.

Now in all fairness things are moving so fast, governments have genuine reason to fear cryptocurrency (aside from illegitimate reasons…) with most ICOs being absolute scams.  The real reason is of course is that governments can no longer vote or control who can fund themselves, the internet and public will judge.  However, there are still good reasons to have regulation or at least accountability so ICO fraudsters cannot hide overseas and disappear with the coins they collect.  This is my position where I feel the majority of token ICOs have no intention of completing their projects.

Getting back to what government should do, it’s not only ICOs but also the laws surrounding the purchase, use and trade around cryptocurrency.

The first country(s) to make fair, easy and favorable laws surrounding ICOs and cryptocurrency may find itself literally walking into digital gold and could be the next Hong Kong or Singapore of the crypto-finance world.  It’s up for grabs until countries clarify and cement their policies with crypto.

The first step if I were a regulator would be to hold public consultation and establish a staterun/government website domain to encourage discussion.  I also imagine it will be a hard case for government going after their citizens or businesses because they could simply leave the country with their crypto.  I think this is one element that business and government doesn’t like, that they can no longer control what people do with their money.  Typically governments and banks work hand in hand to achieve specific goals but with cryptocurrency, much like the world-wide web (initially) they are trying to find a balance and also ways to reign in control.

This time is very different, there is a lot at stake for governments, banks, people and business.  If a government moves too aggressively against the crypto world it could find itself sidelined and in financial ruin while their citizens and businesses will flock to countries that treat them better.

One of the first known examples of staterun conspiracy to harm cryptocurrency is Poland’s recent Youtube campaign: https://cryptoslate.com/polish-central-bank-caught-funding-anti-cryptocurrency-youtube-campaign/. They can’t be the only one and we know because of the well-timed press-conferences from various countries that threaten to ban ICOs or the currency outright.  On that note, as an investor this gives me more confidence than ever.  If crypto isn’t a big thing, then governments wouldn’t be talking about it.  The fact they warn so much about crypto suggests that governments and banks are well aware it is here to stay.

It could be that some governments are just playing games and waiting to see how things play out.  Perhaps internally if they see their attacks on crypto don’t kill it then they’ve already accepted that they will stop the fight against crypto.  Personally I think they are well aware that they cannot stop it and are maybe buying time so they can launch their own like Japan, Russia and China have announced.

I don’t think there’s a direct comparison but this standoff reminds me of the anti-piracy fight.  It used to be a fringe and underground element, but with crackdowns it actually has become more prevalent and easy for people to engage in piracy. Don’t get me wrong, crypto is not at all illegal or wrong (as compared to piracy) but the governments are essentially treating the crypto world the same way.  Much like the rule of investment after your strategy fails, trying again “won’t be different this time” I believe.

What do you think, how can governments handle crypto better and how would you react to bans and other aggressive action against crypto and related businesses?

Countries where cryptocurrency, coins, tokens and ICOs are banned

There has been a lot of activity lately in the world with governments banning cryptocurrency and ICOs but this should come as no surprise as there has been strongly worded messaging about this for some time.

China bans ICOs and shuts down Exchanges
This had a massive impact on the valuations of coins such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, Etherum, Dash etc.. but things have since recovered since the 2017/09/04 law passed in China but serves as a warning and example of what government intervention can and cannot do.

http://en.people.cn/n3/2017/0904/c90000-9264331.html

Chinese authorities on Monday ordered a ban on Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), a nascent form of fundraising in which technology start-ups issue their own digital coins, or “tokens”, to investors to access funds as the rapidly expanding market spawned concerns over financial risks.

Starting Monday, ICO activities should be halted, and ICO platforms should not engage in exchange services between fiat currencies, virtual coins and tokens, said a statement from the People’s Bank of China.

South Korea Bans ICOs

The good news is that while ICOs are banned it does not appear that trading in the currencies themselves is banned.
http://www.nasdaq.com/article/south-koreas-ico-ban-a-reaction-to-serious-concerns-over-cryptocurrency-investment-practices-cm854236

In fact it appears South Korea plans to allow trading but wants more regulation and safeguards:

South Korea Makes it Legal to Transfer Cryptocurrencies Internationally

Singapore

Although not by law, many companies in Singapore dealing in cryptocurrency have had their accounts closed:

https://www.out-law.com/en/articles/2017/september/singapore-banks-closing-accounts-of-cryptocurrency-firms/

Countries subject to strict or promising strict regulations

Nearly every country has taken a similar line where they are making a legal framework and claiming that ICOs are subject to the same laws and rules as IPOs. However this doesn’t appear to have been translated into law. It also doesn’t address the question of how holders on the coins will be impacted but one would guess that in the future they may be subject to capital gains tax and treated like traditional stock investments.

This list of countries includes:
EU, Hong Kong, Canada, Singapore and many other countries around the world.

Hong Kong Regulators Warn ICO Tokens May be Securities Under the Law

SEC: ICO Tokens Like Those of The DAO are Securities Subject to Regulations

Canadian Regulators Say Cryptocurrency ICO/ITO May be Subject to Securities Law

Is the regulation valid, practical and legal?

This is a hard call for me to understand in the sense that these cryptocurrencies are just that, digital currency and currently people are not taxed or penalized for simply exchanging, buying and/or holding different currencies.

It may also be interesting to see what the large exchanges, businesses and users do in response such as unprecedented regulation and laws. It may be that some of the regulations and laws imposed around the world may be found invalid or unenforceable in the end.

What are your thoughts and as always please let me know if I’ve missed any new developments around the laws of cryptocurrency.

2017 and Beyond The Future of Cryptocurrency and Government Financial Regulations

Governments, banks and other large entities have all been murmuring, talking and hinting what the future of cryptocurrency could be or specifically the block chain. They all agree “blockchain” is good, there is no one against it but there has been a lot of confusion about the internet thinking this is equates to government and corporate backing of decentralized cryptocurrencies. I believe this couldn’t be the truth, in fact there have been lots of issues for companies exchanging cyrptocurrency for cold hard cash being unable to wire etc.

The excuse you hear from the big players are concern over fraud, money laundering, etc.. all of which happens in the current fiat monetary system. The true issue behind all the fuss is simply that these decentralized cryptocurrencies allow unhindered free trade around the world regardless of which country you are citizen of and where you are, no one can sanction you or freeze your assets in cryptocurrency. Further, it is of course a huge threat to the current financial system and governments around the world who depend on third party “reserve” banks to print their money. It’s bad news for their monopoly on finance and business transactions worldwide.

Bitcoin Exchanges in China are being shutdown: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/09/14/china-orders-bitcoin-exchanges-shut-down-report-says/665209001/
Russia says Bitcoin is illegal: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-bitcoin/russian-authorities-say-bitcoin-illegal-idUSBREA1806620140209
Bitfinex sued Wells Fargo for blocking their wires: https://bravenewcoin.com/news/wells-fargo-sued-for-suspending-bitfinex-wire-transfers/
US SEC says they want to regulate coins: https://themerkle.com/sec-may-be-looking-for-ways-to-regulate-the-cryptocurrency-ico-market/
JP Morgan’s CEO Jamie Dimon calls Bitcoin a fraud: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-12/jpmorgan-s-ceo-says-he-d-fire-traders-who-bet-on-fraud-bitcoin

The part in China is most significant because the action in China has coincided with drops in value of the major currencies, as well as Chinese users doing a lot of mining and trading in crytocurrency.

When we take some examples above, this is the general consensus among bankers and government worldwide. They all like blockchain and want to make their own currencies that they control and centralize, but they are certainly against the decentralized ones and as new banking, taxation and other government intervention roles out surrounding cryptocurrency it will be very interesting to see where things head.

I personally think the decentralized currency will always exist and it can and will coincide with other mainstream offerings from banks and governments. There will be a place for both just as cash from other countries is traded for other items whether gold, silver or even electronics and oil. Trade will continue but through a different method of settlement and transfer.

One thing is for sure until we see how things break in terms of government regulations and how their own cryptocurrency’s play out, the value of the original decentralized currencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin, Etherum et al will have wild fluctuations as people react to news that threatens these currencies the same way people would read the news about Greece’s debt and haircut on the bonds they sold. In fact many watch the crypto market including the ICO (Initial Coin Offerings) and note they do seem to function as any other traditional market would in terms of news and advancements.

I believe we are seeing a financial revolution, all currency will soon be crypto and physical cash before we know it may all be stop being used.
The only question is how fast does it all happen and how does the difference between centralized banks and decentralized crypto users play out?