Uzbekistan Reportedly Looking to Launch National Cryptocurrency Mining Pool

Uzbekistan is reportedly looking to launch its own national cryptocurrency mining pool and a cryptocurrency exchange to accompany it, in bid to bring crypto miners out of the shadows and attract foreign investors.

According to news.bitcoin.com, a government body under the President of Uzbekistan, the National Agency for Project Management (NAPM), has revealed at a conference its plans for the cryptocurrency and blockchain sector this year.

The organization’s plans include the launch of a national mining pool to help consolidate the mining power of domestic and foreign miners in the country, and a cryptocurrency ensure to help miners sell their digital assets.

Local news outlets reported the country is launching its national mining pool to increase transparency and security for cryptocurrency miners, and to make it more attractive for foreign investors. The NAPM also reputedly claims the pool will improve energy efficiency.

The accompanying digital asset exchange, dubbed Uznex, is based in the country’s capital, Tashkent, and will be operated by the South Korean Kobea Group. It’s set to launch next week, on January 20. Its currently lists several trading pairs including ETH/BTC, ETH/BCH, and BTC/BCH. The trading platform’s website is still in beta, but it already notes users will be charged a fee to withdraw funds.

While the initiative seems to be pro-cryptocurrency, the news outlet points out there’s more to look into. As CryptoGlobe covered, last December an order that restricts how Uzbeks can trade cryptocurrency was issued, effectively restricting them to licensed exchanges only.

Another government order tripled electricity prices for domestic cryptocurrency miners, completely crushing their operations’ profitability.  This, unless they moved to the national mining pool, which would allow them to pay standard rates.

Vyacheslav Pak, the NAPM’s deputy director, was quoted as saying:

I think this will be one of the main measures to encourage participation in this pool.

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Finnish Customs Controls $15 Million in Seized Cryptocurrency

Michael LaVere
  • Finnish customs controls more than €15 million in bitcoin in addition to millions of other crypto assets.
  • Authorities are unsure of the best way to offload the seized assets without contributing to criminal behavior. 

A Finnish customs official has revealed that the agency is currently in possession of millions of euros in seized cryptoassets. 

According to a report by local news outlet Yle on Tuesday, the Finnish customs agency is in control of 1,666 BTC worth more than €15 million ($16.23 million). The agency seized the bitcoin years ago in a major drug bust, but has yet to convert the cryptocurrency into euros. 

The report claims the agency is mulling its options in regards to the seized crypto. An original proposal to sell the bitcoin in 2018 as part of an auction was turned down due to concerns that the funds would fall back into criminal hands. 

Pekka Pylkkanen, Customs’ finance director, said the agency’s primary concern is money-laundering, 

From our point of view, the problems are specifically related to the risk of money laundering. The buyers of [cybercurrency] rarely use them for normal endeavours.

Juri Mattila, a researcher at the Finnish Institute of Economic Research, argued against the notion that bitcoin is used primarily for criminal activity, 

Nowadays there are other virtual currencies that are more difficult to track [by authorities] than bitcoin which may now be used in criminal activities.

Henry Brade, founder of cryptocurrency firm Prasos, told Yle that Customs should sell the crypto-assets to legitimate investors while downplaying the risk of money-laundering, 

Of course, if Customs sold off the bitcoin anonymously, the risks would be massive. But if they sold them in a sensible manner, I don't see a problem here.

In addition to bitcoin, the Finnish agency is also in possession of “millions of euros” in other crypto-assets acquired from criminal seizures over the years. 

Featured Image Credit: Photo via Pixabay.com