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Database issues at the Swedish digital currency exchange QuickBit resulted in a breach of sensitive user data, according to an official announcement published on July 22.

In the announcement, QuickBit revealed that personal data such as names, addresses, email addresses and card information of 2% of its customers was exposed. QuickBit said that no passwords or social security numbers, complete account or credit card information, cryptocurrency or private keys, or financial transactions were exposed or affected.

QuickBit initially published its suspicions about the data incident on July 19, stating that their internal investigation indicated that neither QuickBit nor the company’s customers had been affected. Later that day, the exchange’s managing director Jörgen Eriksson wrote that external security experts warned the company that some data had been poorly protected.

In today’s announcement the exchange explained how the database was exposed:

“QuickBit has recently adopted a third-party system for supplementary security screening of customers. In connection with the delivery of this system, it has been on a server that has been visible outside QuickBits firewall for a few days, and thus accessible to the person who has the right tools.”

QuickBit further claims that its technicians have taken steps to ensure that all servers are protected and prevent the possibility of similar incidents, adding that it will publish a public version of the incident report on its website.

In late June, South Korean crypto exchange Bithumb was prosecuted for its alleged failure to take adequate measures to protect personal information, which was later presumably exploited by hackers to steal funds from the platform. Prosecutors alleged the data breach led directly to the second hack affecting the platform, in which almost $7 million in user funds was stolen.

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Almost half of Americans and Brits would not trust Facebook in regards to its long-awaited stablecoin Libra, technology and market-focused news platform Telecoms.com reported on July 22.

Facebook’s trust issues could hurt Libra project

Citing a survey from instant messaging application Viber, the news outlet reveals that 49% of users in the United Kingdom and the United States said that they would not put trust in the social media giant when it comes to its own digital currency. Those respondents specified that they would not trust Facebook at all in regards to keeping their private information secure when using Libra.

In the UK, 28% of the surveyed responded that they have not come to a decision, while only 4% said they would trust Facebook. The survey in the US led to similar results, although only 2.5% of the respondents stated that they would trust Facebook.

Libra bombarded with criticism

Libra has raised concerns in many jurisdictions around the world and generated a lot of attention in the financial world since its announcement. Although Facebook claims that Libra’s associated digital wallet Calibra “will have strong protection in place to keep your money and your information safe,” experts and policy makers have expressed doubts about users’ data privacy and security.

In a statement on the stablecoin, Committee chairwoman Rep. Maxine Waters commented on the lack of uniform regulation in the cryptocurrency market and said that regulators should view Facebook’s plans for Libra “as a wake-up call to get serious about the privacy and national security concerns, cybersecurity risks, and trading risks that are posed by cryptocurrencies.”

Last week, G7 finance ministers warned that cryptocurrencies such as Libra risk upsetting the world’s financial system if they are not regulated tightly. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire stated that the G7 “cannot accept private companies issuing their own currencies without democratic control.”

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Forex-en

Potential benefits of Facebook’s Libra should be made possible despite the existing regulatory uncertainty and associated risks, Germany’s central bank said.

In a monthly bulletin called “Crypto tokens in payment transactions and in securities settlement” released on July 22, the Bundesbank evaluated potential advantages and shortcomings of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), as well as stablecoins such as Facebook’s widely-discussed crypto project Libra.

Regulation of Libra should be as technology-neutral as possible, Bundesbank says

In the document, Germany’s central bank stated that global innovative projects such as Libra should not be made impossible as they aim to increase prosperity and transaction costs.

However, global regulators should ensure that a number of important standards such as security, monetary and financial stability are not negatively affected, and payment transactions are not compromised, the bank wrote. The Bundesbank stressed that competition in the European payments should be ensured to stay.

At the same time, the regulation should not hinder innovation, the bank emphasized:

“ […] a government should be as technology neutral as possible, so that the benefits of innovation can be made available for the financial sector.”

The bank added that a number of important technical, organizational, and regulatory questions regarding Libra Association is still open, while there are also some speculative considerations for its potential impacts. As such, the bank stated that global supervisory authorities and central banks should keep carefully monitoring and evaluating the project.

CBDCs and stablecoins can impact central banks

In the document, the Bundesbank considered CBDCs and stablecoins as two major recent developments that can affect the role of global central banks. 

Outlining potential general advantages presented by CBDCs, the Bundesbank said that it sees no need of CBDCs for non-banking entities, as they can be used by them as a substitute for commercial bank money, which in turn could have a negative impact on credit supply.

The new crypto-related statement by the Bundesbank echoes recent reports on Bundesbank President urging global regulators to not suppress projects such as Facebook’s Libra in their infancy. Jens Weidmann reportedly stated at a G7 event that regulators should be careful to avoid inadvertently suppression of innovative concepts before all the details have been clarified.

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An Indian government panel recommended a ban on cryptocurrencies, Reuters reports on July 22.

Is India finally about to ban cryptocurrencies?

The panel recommended to the government today to ban cryptocurrencies and impose sanctions for any dealings involving crypto assets. Reuters adds that, according to a government statement, the report and draft legislation released by the panel behind the recommendation will be examined by regulators and the government before taking a final decision.

A local ban is not surprising

Earlier this month, India’s Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur has pointed out that there is no law in India expressly prohibiting the use of cryptocurrencies. Still, draft legislation that would allegedly impose a ban on the use of cryptocurrencies in India has been published by local blockchain legal experts on social media over a week ago.

The given 18-page draft proposes a definition of cryptocurrencies as “any information or code or number or token not being part of any Official Digital Currency, generated through cryptographic means or otherwise, providing a digital representation of value.” 

While all assets fitting this definition would be prohibited, the regulation also suggests that a digital rupee, issued by India’s central bank, would be recognized as legal tender.

As Cointelegraph recently reported, Bitcoin (BTC) proponent and Tezos investor Tim Draper hit out at the Indian government on July 16 calling the government “pathetic and corrupt” for the proposed ban on cryptocurrency.

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The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) announced a successful trial of instant cross-border transfers in Asia in a press release published on July 18.

Per the release, the trial performed instant payments between 17 banks located in Australia, China, Canada, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Singapore, and Thailand, taking up to 25 seconds, with the fastest taking 13 seconds. 

The tests involved communication between SWIFT’s Global Payments Innovation (GPI) instant payment platform and Singapore’s domestic instant payments solution, FAST.

SWIFT also explains that its GPI instant system uses existing payments infrastructure, this is expected to result in lower adoption costs for interested institutions. The firm’s head of banking Harry Newman commented:

“SWIFT envisages that cross-border payments will become as convenient as domestic transactions, and the successful testing across multiple corridors between Europe and North America to Asia Pacific confirms the important role that GPI Instant will play in making that bold vision a reality.”

As Cointelegraph reported in June, SWIFT will allow distributed ledger technology firms to use its GPI platform.

More recently — last week — news broke that Bank of America has filed for a patent for a settlement system citing the Ripple ledger, according to a filing on Google Patents. Notably, Ripple-based systems competing with SWIFT are able to typically complete a transaction in 5 to 7 seconds according to a Quora answer submitted by Ripple CTO David Schwartz.

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Bitcoin (BTC) will be the ultimate benefactor from interest in Facebook Libra and cryptocurrencies, billionaire Tim Draper has said. 

Bridges to a ‘Bitcoin environment’

Speaking to CNBC in an interview on July 19, Draper, who is well known as a Bitcoin advocate, defended both Libra and Bitcoin against recent pressure from governments, particularly in the United States

Asked whether the world was now in a post-Bitcoin environment, he argued that Bitcoin represented the true innovation from the cryptocurrency world, and would ultimately be the tool that reshaped borders, finance and government power.

“I think all these other cryptos are bridges to where we have a Bitcoin environment,” he said.

Appearing in his now trademark Bitcoin tie, Draper added that U.S. regulators were too heavy-handed dealing with innovations in Bitcoin, blockchain and related fields.

With Libra, for example, he opined there was no need to demand regulatory assurances before the product had even launched.

“We’re putting regulation before the innovation – Facebook’s just announced Libra; they haven’t even been able to ship it yet, and the regulators are all over them,” he continued. 

Always a critic of anti-crypto, anti-innovation governments 

Bitcoin was trading more predictably Monday following a turbulent week which saw considerable price swings as Congress debated cryptocurrency policy. 

Draper had come in for criticism of his own last week for his outspoken Bitcoin support against government, but this time, India’s government. 

As Cointelegraph reported, an alleged draft law criminalizing cryptocurrency use, which India’s finance minister since appeared to reject, saw Draper openly call Delhi “pathetic and corrupt.”

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A new blockchain project has launched a registry that would divvy up and tokenize portions of the lunar surface. 

Dubbed Diana — after the Roman goddess of the hunt and the moon — the project launched on July 19, just one day before the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing. The goal of this project is purportedly to “secure the possible right of man to the Moon to propose a solution to ‘who owns the moon.’”

A lunar registry will reportedly secure access to the moon as it is ostensibly becoming more probable that governments will exploit space for its wealth of resources:

“The Diana project aims to clearly define the possible rights of mankind to the Moon, given the increased possibility of ownership disputes, through collective registration.”

The project’s white paper quotes Article II of the United Nations Outer Space Treaty, which states:

“Outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.”

The white paper notes that the treaty does not mention private ownership of the moon, which could allow for the exploitation of the celestial body. By dividing and tokenizing the moon’s surface into some 3.8 billion pieces, the Diana project would somehow circumvent the private ownership and theoretical exploitation of the moon’s resources by hegemonic actors. 

Diana lists “Develop the biz model for Moon possession” on the project’s roadmap. 

The registry will operate with two ERC-20 standard tokens: DIA tokens will act as indivisible proof of registration of a cell of the moon’s surface, while MOND tokens will be transaction tokens backed 1:1 by the United States dollar. 

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, national space agencies like the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the European Space Agency are investigating ways to apply blockchain technology to their operations.

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The Iranian Economic Commission has reportedly finalized a tariff scheme for cryptocurrency miners, according to a July 21 report from Iranian economic daily Financial Tribune. 

Per the report, Energy Minister Homayoon Ha’eri announced that, while the tariff scheme has been finalized, it is awaiting approval from the Cabinet of Iran — a governmental body consisting of various ministers and other officials chosen by the president. 

While Ha’eri did not elaborate on the exact price scheme, he stated that the price is dependent on market factors such as fuel prices in the Persian Gulf. 

The head of Iran Electrical Industry Syndicate, Ali Bakhshi, previously proposed a price of $0.07 per kilowatt hour for cryptocurrency miners. Electricity in Iran is currently very cheap due to government subsidies; one kilowatt hour of electricity currently costs $0.05, with power being cheaper in the agricultural and industrial sectors. 

To put these prices in context, Mostafa Rajabi Mashhadi, the Energy Ministry spokesman for the power department, previously stated that the production of a single Bitcoin (BTC) uses about $1,400 in state subsidies. 

The Financial Tribune reports that mining one Bitcoin reportedly consumes as much electricity as 24 buildings in Tehran do in one year. 

Today’s news follows an announcement from the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), in which the banks governor Abdol Hemmati claimed that the CBI was planning to authorize cryptocurrency mining. 

Similar to today’s statements from Energy Minister Ha’eri, Hemmati said that a planned law will require crypto mining in Iran to abide with the price of electricity for export, rather than allowing miners to use the heavily subsidized internal energy grid.

Also today, Deputy President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration Jamal Arounaghi announced that the agency has not yet issued licenses for the import of cryptocurrency mining equipment. While a tariff scheme exists, the final decision on licensure awaits approval from the government.

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Justin Sun, the founder of Tron and winner of the annual auction for a lunch with renowned investor Warren Buffett, has invited more notable figures from the crypto industry to attend. 

Earlier today, July 21, Sun invited the founder and CEO of trading platform eToro, Yoni Assia, to the lunch with the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway via tweet. Assia quickly responded saying, “Justin, it is my honor to join you for lunch with @WarrenBuffett. A big step for bridging between the traditional finance world and the new one!”

Yesterday, Sun invited the head of the Binance Charity Fund, Helen Hai. Hai reportedly responded within minutes and said the luncheon would be an opportune chance to discuss cryptocurrency and philanthropy. Binance Charity is the philanthropic arm of cryptocurrency exchange Binance. 

Earlier this week, Jeremy Allaire, the CEO of crypto payments firm Circle, accepted a tweeted invitation to the lunch. In mid-June, Litecoin (LTC) creator Charlie Lee became the first guest Sun’s lunch with Buffett.

Other invitations are expected to follow ahead of the event, which will take place on July 25 at Quince, a three-Michelin-star restaurant in San Francisco. 

The auction and subsequent lunch event with the “Oracle of Omaha” began in 2000 as a way to support one of Buffett’s favorite charities, San Francisco’s Glide Foundation. Since its inception, the lunch auction has purportedly raised over $30 million for the charity. Sun paid a record-breaking $4,567,888 to win the charity auction.

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Benoit Coeure, a board member of the European Central Bank, said that Facebook’s Libra coin will not launch until global regulators are satisfied. 

Speaking to Reuters at the G7 summit in Chantilly, France on July 18, Coeure said that the proposed stablecoin must be guaranteed to be safe for users before it can launch:

“You’ve got to be safe, robust and resilient from day one. It’s not a learning process: either it works or it doesn’t.”

Coeure stated that guaranteeing the protection of user privacy and ownership rights may require significant consideration and lengthy discussion by regulators:

“Down the road we might find that there are gaps or inconsistencies that would require a prolonged discussion by regulators on how to do it differently. Authorities are not going to let any such projects happen before we have answers to our questions and before we have the right regulatory framework.”

Earlier this month, Coeure called for fast action from global regulators in regard to Libra. The ECB official said that allowing the introduction of a totally new asset like Libra on such a large scale, without proper regulations and safeguards, would be irresponsible. 

Coeure also stated that the rapid development of digital and crypto assets has exposed gaps and shortcomings in existing regulatory structures and has underlined how slow banks are to adopt new technologies.

“All these projects are a rather useful wake-up call for regulators and public authorities, as they encourage us to raise a number of questions and might make us improve the way we do things.”

The official’s G7 working group on stablecoins will reportedly explore the issue leading up to the International Monetary Fund’s yearly meeting in October, whereupon he will purportedly pass the work along to the Financial Stability Board.

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