Top Crypto News – 14/05/2018

CME Group Partners to Launch Ether Reference Rate Index


Derivatives exchange operator CME Group is launching an ether reference rate and a real-time ether-dollar index in partnership with UK-based digital asset trading service Crypto Facilities.

The operator noted Monday that it would provide “a daily benchmark price in U.S. dollars” every 24 hours, as well as the real-time price “based on transactions and order book activity” from cryptocurrency exchanges Kraken and Bitstamp, according to a press release. The rates are already available online on both the CME Group and Crypto Facilities websites, and will be provided to the CME Group Market Data Platform starting June 4.

In a statement, CME Group managing director and global head of equity products and alternative investments Tim McCourt said “the Ether Reference Rate and Real Time Index are designed to meet the evolving needs of this marketplace. Providing price transparency and a credible price reference source is a key development for users of ethereum.”

Similarly, Crypto Facilities CEO Timo Schlaefer said:

“Ether, the second largest cryptocurrency, experienced incredible adoption and growth in 2017, evolving into the leading blockchain for smart contracts. We are excited to be contributing to the strong community that has developed around the Ethereum network by providing a reliable reference rate and real-time Ether-Dollar price.”

The new indices will be overseen by the Bitcoin Oversight Committee formed by CME Group, Crypto Facilities and other industry participants, according to the release. This “oversight committee will regularly review the methodology, practices and standards to protect the integrity of the reference rates.”

The news comes just days after Crypto Facilities began trading in ethereum futures, as previously reported by CoinDesk. The platform announced it was launching the first futures contract for the token through a regulated platform on May 11.

Crypto Facilities notably provides CME Group with reference rates for the latter’s own bitcoin futures.

Ethereum image via Shutterstock


Florida Tax Collector to Accept Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash Payments


A Florida county tax collector has partnered with bitcoin payments processor BitPay to accept cryptocurrency for a variety of services.

Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg said in a statement Monday that his office will take bitcoin and bitcoin cash for payments associated with driver licenses and ID cards, automobile tags and titles and property tax.

The office decided to accept the cryptocurrencies in an effort to streamline fee collection, reduce the potential for fraud and identity theft and increase the transparency and accuracy of payments. Greenberg’s office added that it does not perceive any “price volatility or risk to the County” in accepting the cryptocurrencies.

Greenberg said in the statement:

“The aim of my tenure in office is to make our customer experience faster, smarter and more efficient, and to bring government services from the 18th century into the 21st century and one way is the addition of cryptocurrency to our payment options.”

The collaboration with the Seminole County Tax Collector marks BitPay’s first government partnership. Head of compliance Jeremie Beaudry said the company was launched because “we recognized the potential for blockchain to revolutionize the financial industry, making payments faster, more secure and less expensive on a global scale.

“With the Seminole County Tax Collector’s office, we have engaged our first government agency to accept bitcoin and bitcoin cash by making it easy and seamless for them,” he added.

However, Greenberg’s office is not the only local government entity that has entertained the idea of accepting cryptocurrency for taxes.

Arizona and Georgia lawmakers both proposed bills this year that would allow citizens to pay their state tax liabilities in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, though neither bill made it through their respective legislatures.

Calculator image via Flickr 
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Thailand Commences Cryptocurrency Regulations Today


Crypto Law In Effect

Thailand Commences Cryptocurrency Regulations TodayThe Thai government’s decree to regulate cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs) goes into effect on Monday. The Digital Asset Management Act BE 2561 was approved by the Thai cabinet in March and has been amended since.

The revision of the Revenue Code No. 19 was also announced in order to tax crypto profits at 15%, according to local media. Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong previously said, as reported by the Bangkok Post:

It [the decree] was not meant to prohibit cryptocurrencies, initial coin offerings (ICOs) and other digital asset-related transactions, but to protect investors.

Power to the Thai SEC

Thailand Commences Cryptocurrency Regulations TodayAccording to the decree, the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has the duty and the authority to regulate digital currencies and their operators, Matichon reported.

The publication outlines four areas the SEC will be responsible for. The first is to regulate the issuance and offering of cryptocurrencies and digital asset businesses. The second is to set the fees and requirements for the registration and approval of cryptocurrencies and their operators. The third is to establish a guideline for dealing with potential problems. The fourth concerns all other areas not previously mentioned.

“All sellers are required to register with the SEC within 90 days of the law taking effect,” the Bangkok Post wrote, adding that:

Sellers of digital tokens unauthorized by the SEC will be fined no more than twice the value of the digital transaction or at least 500,000 baht [~US$15,703]. They could also face a jail term of up to two years.

The news outlet elaborated that “the [finance] ministry and SEC will now work on organic laws requiring all digital asset transactions, including those of digital asset exchanges, brokers, and dealers, to be registered with the relevant authorities according to the decree.”

Despite the new rules and direction presented in the decree, the Bank of Thailand (BOT) says that it will wait for the SEC to announce other details of the regulations before it will make a stance on cryptocurrencies and ICOs, according to Matichon. The BOT has previously banned financial institutions from crypto activities.

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Winklevoss-Led Gemini Becomes ‘World’s First Licensed Zcash Exchange’


Gemini has become the “world’s first licensed Zcash exchange,” the company announced on Monday.

The New York City-based cryptocurrency exchange — which was founded by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss— today revealed that it will open zcash trading markets (ZEC/USD, ZEC/BTC, and ZEC/ETH), which it says makes it the “first licensed Zcash in the world.”

Zcash will be just the third cryptocurrency listed on Gemini. At present, the platform supports trading pairs for bitcoin and ether.

“Zcash picks up where Bitcoin left off,” Tyler Winklevoss, CEO of Gemini, said in a statement, adding “Bitcoin has many strengths, but privacy is not one of them.”

“Bitcoin and Zcash are two revolutionary technologies vying for different mantles,” added Cameron Winklevoss, the exchange’s president. “Bitcoin being digital gold and Zcash being digital cash.”

The addition of zcash — a privacy-centric cryptocurrency — is notable, given that Gemini is regulated by the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS), whose “BitLicense” framework is considered to be one of the most strict regulatory regimes faced by US cryptocurrency exchanges.

The Winklevoss-led Gemini has received NYDFS approval to list zcash, bitcoin cash, and litecoin, though it has not yet announced support for LTC or BCH.

The exchange said that it went through an extensive approval process with the NYDFS before formally deciding to support zcash trading. At launch, users will be able to make deposits from both shielded and unshielded addresses, but they will only be able to withdraw funds to unshielded address — likely due to concerns over compliance with anti-money laundering (AML) regulations.

“This action continues New York’s longstanding commitment to innovation and leadership in the global marketplace. With smart and thorough regulatory oversight, the development and long-term growth of the industry will remain thriving,” said Maria T. Vullo, superintendent of the NYDFS.

ZEC markets will officially open for trading on Tuesday at 9:30 am EDT, but customers can begin making ZEC deposits on Saturday, May 19.

Notably, Gemini supplies pricing data to Chicago derivatives exchange CBOE, which was the first regulated US platform to create a bitcoin futures product. CBOE has not been shy about its desire to list more cryptocurrency-based derivatives, so the addition of this asset to Gemini could hasten the production of zcash futures.

The NYDFS has also given Gemini approval to list bitcoin cash and litecoin, though the exchange has not yet announced plans to do so.

The zcash price surged following the unexpected announcement, peaking as high as $345 on Bitfinex before settling down to a present value of $331. This represents a 24-hour increase of approximately 32 percent.

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