FinCEN Issues Guidance on Virtual Currencies as Congressman Proposes Bill to Outlaw Crypto Purchases

U.S. regulation has certainly dominated the crypto headlines over the past 24 hours. One story came from Congressman Bradley Sherman – a known detractor of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general – who proposed the introduction of a bill that would ban Americans from buying cryptocurrency. Then there was the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), who issued an interpretive guidance on crypto, or “convertible virtual currencies (CVCs)”, as they call them.

Away from regulatory scene, London-based legal technology firm Mattereum announced it teamed up with renowned sci-fi actor William Shatner to showcase a blockchain-enabled technology that promises to disrupt the arts and collectibles market.

Bitcoin (BTC) is showing no signs of wavering after breaking through the $6,000-mark yesterday, a level not breached since mid-November of last year. At the time of writing, BTC is trading at $6,314.13 (+3.55%). Whilst ether (ETH) is also moving higher – $173.84 (+1.31%) – it is, once again, lagging behind the market-leading BTC in relative terms. Finally, the MVIS CryptoCompare Digital Assets 10 Index is tracking at 2896.50, a 2.69% rise over the past 24 hours.

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Congressman Proposes Bill to ‘Outlaw’ Cryptocurrency Purchases

In a Financial Services Committee hearing on Thursday (May 9, 2019), U.S. Congressman Bradley Sherman (D-CA) called on “colleagues to join [him] in introducing a bill to outlaw cryptocurrency purchases by Americans.” Explaining his motivation in front of the Committee, Sherman stated it is partly “because an awful lot of [the United States’] international power comes from the fact the dollar is the standard unit of international finance and transactions.”

To be sure, this is not the first time Sherman has called for a blanket ban on cryptocurrency buying. “We should prohibit U.S. persons from buying or mining cryptocurrencies,” he declared, last July, in front of a subcommittee for the same Committee.

FinCEN Issues New Cryptocurrency Guidance

U.S. anti-money laundering (AML) regulator, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), published an interpretive guidance document outlining when, and how, companies, individuals, and platforms native to the crypto ecosystem may be money transmitters pursuant to the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and other relevant laws.

Notably, the guidance made explicit interpretations that software wallet providers, multi-sig providers, decentralized exchanges, and other non-custodial services are not regulated as money transmitters under FinCEN, meaning they are not obliged to follow federal AML and know-your-customer (KYC) regulations. For an in-depth rundown of FinCEN’s guidance, CryptoGlobe recommends readers view this extremely helpful annotated version by Katherine Wu, the former director of business development at Messari.

William Shatner Teams Up with Mattereum to Blockchain-ize Captain Kirk

Actor William Shatner, best known for starring as Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek series, is teaming up with London-based legal technology startup Mattereum “to document authenticity of memorabilia and collectibles, on the blockchain,” according to a press release published on Friday (May 10, 2019).

Shatner will appear alongside Mattereum during the upcoming New York Blockchain Week, where they will showcase the firm’s so-called Asset Passport technology, which uses legally-binding smart contracts to ensure the accuracy of records, the statement explained.

As part of the partnership, Shatner will be putting his one-of-a-kind numbered action figure of “Capt. James Kirk in Casual Attire” on an immutable ledger, creating what Mattereum calls a “digital twin.” Notably, Friday’s announcement revealed the famed Star Trek actor will continue working with Mattereum to “create digital twins for science fiction and other collectible memorabilia.”

Binance ‘Is Not Authorized' to Operate in Malta, Says Country's Financial Watchdog

Malta’s financial watchdog, the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA), has issued a statement claiming leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance is “not authorized” to operate in the country.

In the statement, the MFSA cites reports in the media referring to the cryptocurrency trading platform as a “Malta-based cryptocurrency company,” and revealed that Binance “Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA).

The cryptocurrency exchange announced it was opening an office in Malta in March 2018 shortly after it received a warning from Japan’s Financial Services Agency, telling it to stop operating in the country without official approval. At the time, Malta’s Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, welcome the cryptocurrency exchange. At the time Malta was starting to be known as the “blockchain island” thanks to its pro-crypto stance.

While it isn’t clear whether Binance still has offices in Malta, press releases sent to cryptocurrency publications list Malta in the dateline as recently as February 11, 2020. Officially, Binance hasn’t revealed where its headquarters are located.

On social media, its CEO Changpeng Zhao addressed reports on the MFSA’s statement claiming there’s a “mix of truth, FUD & misconception” associated with them. Per his words, Binance isn’t headquartered or operated in Malta. He added there as misconceptions as “some people” believe the world “must work a certain way, you must have offices, HQ, etc.”

In its statement, the MFSA did say it is assessing if the cryptocurrency exchange has activities in Malta that “may not fall within the realm of regulatory oversight.” The regulator added that since the passing of the Virtual Financial Assets Act of 2018, businesses in Malta trading or offering cryptocurrencies have to be fully licensed.

Featured image via Pixabay.