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.

The Bitcoin Update: Price Action, Futures, Halving, and Security

Siamak Masnavi

This article provides: an overview of how Bitcoin (BTC) has been doing over the past 24-hour period; a recap of interesting recent news that might have affected its price (or might do so in the future), and useful observations from Crypto Twitter.

Bitcoin Price Action

BTC-USD 24 Hour Chart - 22 Oct 2019.png

According to data from CryptoCompare, as you can see in the above price chart, the Bitcoin price has been mostly hovering in the range $8,150 and $8,300 during the past 24-hour period. 

Crypto analyst/trader Josh Rager says that Bollinger Bands suggest that the next volatile move could come soon:

Bitcoin Futures

Although trading volume in institutional BTC products decreased in September, as described in the recently-released CryptoCompare Exchange Review report for September 2019, "long positions held by institutional accounts at the CME have been rising again in October" according to crypto data analytics startup Skew:

The Next Bitcoin Halving

As you probably know already, once every 210,000 blocks (approximately every four years), there is a Bitcoin halving event (where the block mining reward is halved, such that miners receive 50% less BTC for verifying transactions); these Bitcoin halving events keep on occurring until the maximum supply of 21 million bitcoins has been minted.

Well, the next Bitcoin halving event is estimated to occur around 14 May 2020; this is when the block mining reward will decrease from 12.5 BTC to 6.25 BTC.

Alistair Milne, Co-Founder and Chief Investment Officer (CIO) of cryptocurrency-focused hedge fund Altana Digital Currency Fund (ADCF), tried to explain yesterday via the following what next year's Bitcoin halving will mean to BTC sell-side pressure:

Offline Storage of Private Keys

Yesterday, UK-based firm Sword Ltd announced the official launch of Cryptosteel Capsule, a 100% stainless steel device (shockproof, waterproof, acid-resistant, and fireproof up to 1400C/2500F) for offline storage of valuable data such as private keys and passwords. 

Cryptosteel Capsule Screenshot.png

Cryptosteel Capsule costs between 89 and 329 euros depending on the variant being ordered.

Jameson Lopp, CTO at Casa, received one of these gadgets at last weekend's Lightning Conference in Berlin Germany, and he put it in his carry-on luggage for the flight back home to the U.S.. Unfortunately, airport security officers in Germany were not too impressed:

 

Featured Image Credit: Photo via Pexels.com. Photo of CryptoSteel Capsule Courtesy of Sword Ltd.