Brazilian University Launches World’s First Master’s Degree In Cryptofinance

  • A Brazilian University has launched the world's first Master's Degree in cryptofinance. 
  • The course's students are set to analyze cryptocurrency markets from an objective, academic perspective, as opposed to a speculative one.

Yesterday, various news outlets reported that it is now possible to get a master's degree in cryptofinance. The gist of these reports was that Brazilian University Fundacao Getulio Vargas (FGV), also known as the Sao Paulo School of Economics, claimed that it is offering the world's first master's degree in cryptofinance.

Although universities have been offering courses in blockchain and cryptocurrencies as early as 2014 -- when NYU Stern School of Business became the first major university to launch such a course -- a master's degree solely focused on cryptofinance is unique.

A look at the relevant section of the university's website, shows that FGV has a Master's Program in Economics (MPE) that offers specializations in one of four subjects: Portfolio Management, Risk Management, Data Science, and Cryptofinance. In the second semester of this four-semester program, those specializing in Cryptofinance must take the following courses: "Cryptofinance"; "Cryptoeconomics"; and "Laboratory of Cryptofinance and Economics".

Ricardo Rochman, the program’s coordinator, claimed it was born out of a need for specialized education in the cryptocurrency industry. Per his words, it is a “market with a profound lack of people with expertise.” Students are set to study the markets from a more objective, academic perspective, as opposed to a speculative one.

Michele Araujo, a 26-year-old economics student at FGV noted that learning about cryptocurrencies can be beneficial:

"There is a conceptual gain of knowing both the practical applications of the technology and cryptocurrency as an alternative investment.”

Michele Araujo

Universities in Brazil, the country with the largest crypto market in South America, are seemingly responding to the huge amount of interest in cryptofinance, while refusing to be discouraged by what Ilan Goldfajn, the governor of Brazil's central bank, said about Bitcoin last October:

“The bitcoin is a financial asset with no ballast that people buy because they believe it will appreciate. That is a typical bubble or pyramid [scheme]…The central bank is not interested in bubbles or illicit payments.”

Ilan Goldfajn, governor of Brazil's central bank

 

Israel Bitcoin Association Petitions Banks to Reveal Crypto Policy

Neil Dennis

A number of Israel's bitcoin traders have already filed lawsuits against the country's banks and on Monday traders lodged a formal petition demanding that the financial industry explains its cryptoasset policy.

Israel's banks have barred the country's crypto investors from depositing the returns on their bitcoin and other digital currency investments due to the nation's strict laws on money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

In recent months banks have even blocked investors who are known to trade cryptoassets from opening accounts, according to a report by Israeli business journal Globes.

Central Bank Warning

Israel has seen strong growth in digital currency investment in recent years and in 2014 the Bank of Israel, the nation's central bank, issued a warning - in co-operation with the Tax Authority and several regulatory agencies - about the dangers associated with the use of virtual currency, including fraud and money laundering.

Taking aim directly at financial services providers, the statement said:

As the use of virtual currencies enables their anonymous transfer, in many cases evading the need to use financial institutions that are subject  to an anti-money laundering and terror financing prohibition regime, this is an activity with a high risk co-efficient in terms of money laundering and terror financing. Therefore, financial institutions must take this into account within the framework of their risk management policy.

Injunction

Israel's top legal authority is well aware a problem exists. In February 2018, the Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction prohibiting a bank from blocking activities in an account held by a company that engaged in bitcoin trading.

The bank, however, countered the Supreme Court's injunction, citing the 2014 Bank of Israel warning regarding the risks of bitcoin trade. The bank alleged that activities exposing the bank to such unlawful acts might "harm its reputation and public trust in the bank".

While the injunction stood, it did not affect the bank's right to examine individual activities in the account, nor did it affect the bank's ability to take steps to minimize risks associated with the business activities of the company.

Freedom of Information

The freedom of information petition filed in the Jerusalem District Court on Monday by the Israel Bitcoin Association demands that commercial banks make public their policies on cryptoassets.

Jonathan Klinger, legal adviser to the Bitcoin Association, told Globes:

Under the Banking (Licensing) Law, it is the duty of a bank to state to the Bank of Israel the policy under which it refuses to conduct transactions. We therefore contacted the Bank of Israel and asked for this information, but the Bank of Israel did not agree to disclose this policy to us. We therefore decided to petition the court to force the Bank of Israel to provide us with a copy of the policy submitted to it by the banks.

Lawsuits

Last week the Tel Aviv District Court received a petition for approval of a 75 million shekel ($21.3 million) class action suit against Bank Hapoalim that alleges the bank refused a customer seeking to deposit money from the sale of digital currencies.