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Russia’s largest bank Sberbank has requested that a client provide information on their income from cryptocurrency, the Russian version of Forbes reported on May 17.

Co-founder of cryptocurrency trading platform Toxenbox.io, Vladimir Smerkis, told Forbes that the unnamed client received a letter from Sberbank requiring disclosure of their crypto revenue. The letter based its demand on Federal Law No. 115, “On Combating Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing.” The client had reportedly already informed the bank about their income from exchanging cryptocurrencies.

Specifically, Sberbank wanted to know the client’s crypto wallet address, what mining equipment the client deployed (including the model and parameters of their mining farm) and hash rate indicators.

The bank also asked for documents confirming ownership or lease of the mining equipment, as well as the premises housing the farm. Sberbank subsequently confirmed the information, Forbes states.

Smerkis said that “we are very much perturbed by how Sberbank can appeal to terms that do not yet exist in Russian law.” The founder and CEO of regulated decentralized exchange Tokenomica, Artem Tolkachev responded that this is not a new breed of request, saying that Sberbank “operate within their regulatory framework for handling cash. So it is a way of legally introducing cryptocurrency revenues into circulation.”

Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev commented yesterday, May 16, that crypto regulation is not a priority for the Russian government as cryptocurrencies have been losing popularity. Medvedev noted that the problem received more attention at an earlier forum in May 2018, where he urged the government to legislate at least some basic crypto terms. While hype around bitcoin (BTC) has fallen, crypto markets may still rally, the prime minister concluded.

Russia’s principle crypto bill “On Digital Financial Assets” was passed by the lower house of Russian parliament in May 2018. However, the Duma sent

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Cryptocurrency project OneCoin is denying claims that it is a “hybrid ponzi-pyramid scheme” and scam, news outlet Samoa Observer reported on May 14.

OneCoin is purportedly a cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme project, that raised hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide by luring investors with the promise of big returns and minimal risk. An investigation by the United States found that the project’s founders had generated 3.353 billion euros ($3.769 billion) in sales revenue.

In April, a church in the Pacific nation of Samoa became at the center of scrutiny after ministers had invited OneCoin to speak to its congregation. Notably, Samoa’s central bank banned any activities involving the scheme in 2018, but representatives nonetheless succeeded in approaching the Samoa Worship Centre and pitched their purportedly fraudulent investment products.

Following an investigation by the Samoa central bank into the company, OneCoin reportedly sent a letter to the Samoa Observer, in which it denied claims that it laundered funds through New Zealand to Samoa, and refuted allegations that the organization is a Ponzi scheme.

The company explains that it is “a centralized, closed source cryptocurrency. The closed system has strict AML and CFT (Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism) policies as well as KYC (Know-Your-Customer) implementation and, as in our case, prevents anonymous transactions.”

OneCoin argues that such criteria preclude the company from being a Ponzi scheme, and adds that “by accepting the contract, the user becomes an independent, self-employed business owner.” The company thus does not consider itself responsible for the activities performed by its users in Samoa and New Zealand. OneCoin also said:

“Let it be clear that neither OneCoin nor OneLife companies have organization, representation or employees in Samoa and New Zealand. No one has authority to act or make statements on company’s behalf in Samoa and

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The European Central Bank (ECB) stated that cryptocurrencies do not have implications on monetary policy or factor into the real economy in a May report.

In the report dubbed “Crypto-Assets: Implications for financial stability, monetary policy, and payments and market infrastructures,” ECB looks into the potential impact of digital currencies on economic developments and monetary policy.

The bank specifically states that such implications could occur should cryptocurrencies became a credible substitute for cash and deposits, while currently they do not fulfil the functions of money.

The bank further says that cryptocurrencies’ deployment remains limited, with a small number of merchants ready to allow purchases of goods and services with digital currency, as the prices of digital assets remain volatile.

However, the ECB notes that the development of stablecoins — the value of which is pegged to physical assets, fiat currencies, or is stabilized by an algorithm — warrants continuous monitoring because they could become less volatile if collateralized by central bank reserves.

Finally, the bank argues that “the absence of any specific institution (such as a central bank or monetary authority) protecting the value of crypto-assets hinders their use as a form of money, since their volatility: a) prevents their use as a store of value; b) discourages their use as a means of payment; and c) makes it difficult to use them as a unit of account.”

Earlier in May, ECB president Mario Draghi said that cryptocurrencies “are not significant enough in their entity that they could affect our economies in a macro way,” adding:

“Cryptocurrencies or bitcoins, or anything like that, are not really currencies — they are assets. A euro is a euro — today, tomorrow, in a month — it’s always a euro. And the ECB is behind the euro. Who is behind the cryptocurrencies?

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International electrical engineering company ABB has rolled out a blockchain pilot to explore how the technology could promote the role of solar energy in peer-to-peer (p2p) energy trading, technology-focused media outlet PV Tech reported on May 16.

To implement the project, ABB collaborated with Italian energy aggregator Evolvere to deploy a blockchain it jointly developed with blockchain-based platform Prosume. The pilot will purportedly enable transparent and secure p2p energy transactions, as well research blockchain’s role in the smart grids market.

ABB told PV Tech that the project’s objective is to make blockchain-ready inverters so energy market participants can reduce both capital and operational expenditure costs. Giampiero Frisio, head of ABB’s smart power business, said, “the Evolvere project has allowed us to develop viable and proven solutions for the market in anticipation of new dynamics and regulatory frameworks coming in to place for blockchain technology.”

ABB Group is involved in several “smart” and renewable energy projects, including smart gas and electric cars. ABB has operations in Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa and Australia. In 2018, the firm had an operating revenue of over $28.5 billion.

Blockchain has been gaining traction in the energy sector around the world. Earlier this month, American blockchain startup Data Gumbo Corp. raised $6 million from major energy companies, including the venture wing of Saudi Arabian national petroleum and natural gas company Saudi Aramco. The investors purportedly expect Data Gumbo’s blockchain-as-a-service platform to improve oil and gas supply chains by eliminating disputes and enabling automated payments.

In April, Austria’s largest energy provider, Wien Energie, developed a blockchain-driven fridge in partnership with tech giant Bosch. The main goal behind the project is to increase consumer interest in the sustainable consumption of energy. A blockchain solution in this case allows one to choose the source of the

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Leading cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex will stop offering nine coins to United States-based customers due to uncertain regulations, according to a blog post published on May 16.

Starting from May 29, Poloniex will stop offering trading in Ardor (ARDR), Bytecoin (BCN), Decred (DCR), GameCredits (GAME), Gas (GAS), Lisk (LSK), Nxt (NXT), Omni Layer (OMNI), and Augur (REP) for its customers in the U.S. Trading with the aforementioned assets will remain available for the exchange’s customers outside the U.S.

Poloniex said that the decision was motivated by the uncertain regulatory environment in the country. “Specifically, it is not possible to be certain whether U.S. regulators will consider these assets to be securities,” the exchange states.

The legal status of cryptocurrency remains uncertain in the U.S. As previously reported, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) “crypto czar” Valerie Szczepanik said that platforms seeking to list initial exchange offering (IEO) tokens for a fee could find themselves in regulatory trouble. “If they are not registered they will find themselves in trouble in the U.S., if they have a U.S. issuer or U.S. buyers, if they are operating on the U.S. market,” Szczepanik said.

In early April, the SEC published a framework, developed by Szczepanik and another commissioner Bill Hinman, to help market participants ascertain whether or not a digital asset is deemed to be an investment contract, and therefore a security.

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton and Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo noted the importance of the agencies becoming literate in digital assets and blockchain technology earlier this month. Giancarlo added that the CFTC should “be able to conduct independent market data analysis across different data sources, including decentralized blockchains and networks, without being reliant on self-regulatory organizations and market intermediaries.”

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Big Four auditing firm KPMG has identified the top four skills needed for a blockchain-related career, in a press release shared with Cointelegraph on May 16.

KPMG suggests that an increasing number of companies will investigate blockchain technology this year. “Blockchain projects will not succeed or scale without a multifaceted team that goes beyond technologists,” the firm states, thus identifying the four major skills needed for a career in the industry.

KPMG argues that the successful deployment of blockchain tech depends on professionals with both technology literacy and business acumen.

The latter purportedly requires a deep understanding of specific processes in business, which is essential when developing and defining a highly-demanded use case and value proposition for a project.

The importance of technological literacy lies in the understanding of how blockchains actually operate. KPMG said it is critical to understand how to apply that knowledge to a specific use case.

KPMG suggests that professionals in the field should have data analytics skills in order to understand and apply data derived from a blockchain, in addition to a “hacker mentality,” which requires teams to be open and able to explore and experiment by “hacking the problem” from multiple perspectives.

Earlier this year, KPMG released a survey showing that 48% of C-level executives believe blockchain is likely to change the way they do business in the next three years. When asked about the possibility of implementing blockchain in their companies, 41% of respondents said they are likely to use the technology. As for advantages and disadvantages of the decentralized technology, 23% of respondents believe that blockchain helps improve business efficiency.

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American major cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase is reportedly negotiating the acquisition of the bitcoin (BTC) custody business of cryptocurrency wallet provider Xapo, technology-focused media outlet the Block reported on May 16.

Sources familiar with the matter reportedly told the Block that Coinbase has been vying with the digital currency wing of United States financial services giant Fidelity, Fidelity Digital Assets, for Xapo over the past several weeks to advance its custody business.

Following the closure of the deal, Coinbase will reportedly pay about $50 million in cash to Xapo, with a contingent earn-out for remaining with the company.

Founded in 2014, Xapo is a Hong Kong-based firm that provides a BTC wallet and a cold storage vault, as well as bitcoin-based debit card services. The company is backed by leading industry players such as venture capital firms Greylock Partners and Index Ventures, crypto investment companies Digital Currency Group, Winklevoss Capital and Blockchain Capital. Xapo reportedly holds $5.5 billion in assets under custody.

Earlier this month, Cointelegraph reported that Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said that Coinbase Custody managed to get $1 billion in assets under management in just 12 months after its launch. He also mentioned that 70 institutions signed up to the service during that period.

Coinbase officially launched its custody service for institutional investors in July of last year. At the time, the company revealed that it would enable its new institutional clients “to participate in the crypto ecosystem through proof of stake and distributed governance.” The company’s custody offering was set to be secured through a compliant and FINRA-member independent broker-dealer, Electronic Transaction Clearing (ETC).

This week, Coinbase made a massive expansion of USD Coin (USDC) trading to customers in 85 countries. Along with the USDC announcement, Coinbase also revealed a major global expansion, adding 50 more jurisdictions to

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Latin America-based cryptocurrency startup Ripio has launched a trading platform, including an over the counter (OTC) desk, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph on May 16.

Ripio’s newly launched platform will enable its customers in Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico to trade cryptocurrency to fiat, use digital banking services, and request blockchain-based loans. The product also includes an OTC desk for institutional investors.

Commenting on the product roll out, Ripio’s founder and CEO Sebastian Serrano said that “cryptocurrency, and our new platform in particular, offers brand-new investment horizons for all segments of the population. This is especially important in Latin America, where savings must be protected against the constant devaluation of local currency.”

Founded in 2013, Ripio claims to be the largest digital asset company in Argentina, with its current expansion to other South American countries like Peru, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Colombia.

In late 2017, Ripio raised more than $37 million through its initial coin offering (ICO) in a bid to launch the Ripio Credit Network, a peer-to-peer credit network based on Ethereum smart contracts.

As reported in late March, Argentina’s Deputy Minister of Finance, Felix Martin Soto, claimed that the government should address crypto and blockchain tech as a way to promote Argentina’s financial inclusion and reduce state costs.

Soto stated that he believes that promoting crypto industry in the country will help to reduce its demand for United States dollar, which will eventually contribute to stabilizing the local market and attracting global investment.

In March, Argentina’s president, Mauricio Macri, met with crypto investor and entrepreneur Tim Draper. Draper told the president that the legalization of bitcoin (BTC) would improve the economic situation in the country. According to Draper, crypto and blockchain adoption in the country can disrupt major problems in Argentina’s economy, including the devaluation of the

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New data suggests that bitcoin’s (BTC) growth is explained by its maturation as an asset based on conversations surrounding the leading cryptocurrency, Bloomberg reported on May 15.

Bloomberg cited a report from web intelligence platform Indexica, that developed an index based on natural language processing of textual documents in an effort to explain bitcoin’s recent surge.

The research reportedly revealed three major drivers of the coin’s growth, including conversations surrounding bitcoin, fewer concerns about fraud and a shift in the sentiment of how people talk about bitcoin from the past to the future. The report states that more financial experts and academics are deliberating about bitcoin, and traditional institutions are taking it more seriously.

Explaining the future issue of bitcoin, Zak Selbert, chief executive officer at Indexica, reportedly argued: “Think about it, executives will speak of good things they expect to happen on conference calls before they happen. They only mention mistakes afterwards.”

Over the past month, bitcoin has demonstrated an impressive surge from around $5,075 on April 15 to its current price of around $8,178, according to CoinMarketCap.

Bitcoin 30-day chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Today, Erik Voorhees, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange platform ShapeShift, argued that the volatility seen in bitcoin and altcoin markets over the years is a necessary phenomenon for a nascent asset, stating that bubbles are an essential part of the industry’s growth.

Leading derivatives marketplace CME Group reported record volume for its bitcoin futures on May 13 as the cryptocurrency’s surprise bull market continued. That figure represented an equivalent 168,000 BTC ($1.35 billion) — an almost 50% rise versus the previous high of 22,500 contracts and 112,700 BTC (currently $909.2 million) on April 4.

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Wednesday, May 15 — All of the top 20 coins are in the green after seeing some losses over the past day, with some reporting double-digit gains, according to Coin360.

Market visualization by Coin360

The leading digital currency bitcoin (BTC) is up over 4% on the day, trading at $8,135 at press time after reaching above $8,200. Earlier today, bitcoin dropped under the $8,000 price point to trade as low as $7,807. On its weekly chart, bitcoin saw its lowest price point at $5,942 on May 8, while its highest price point was $8,265 on May 14.

Today, Erik Voorhees, CEO of instant cryptocurrency exchange platform ShapeShift, argued that the volatility seen in bitcoin and altcoin markets over the years is a necessary phenomenon for a nascent asset, stating that bubbles are an essential part of the industry’s growth.

Bitcoin 7-day chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

The second largest coin by market capitalization, ether (ETH), has nearly 15%  growth in the last 24 hours, and is trading at around $237 at press time. During the week, ETH has been steadily gaining in price, and is currently up 39% over the last seven days.

Ether 7-day chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ripple (XRP) has gained almost 9.59% on the day, and is trading at $0.432 at press time. The altcoin started the day near $0.399, gradually reaching the current price point. Over the week, the third largest cryptocurrency by market cap registered its lowest price point at  $0.294 on May 10 and hit the highest value of around $0.438 earlier today.

Ripple 7-day chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Bitcoin cash (BCH) — which went through a planned hard fork update earlier today —  is trading at $393.76 at press time, up by 4.94% over the past day.

Following the coin’s hard fork, BitMEX reported

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