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Icelandic Regulators Approve Startup’s Plan for Fiat Payments on Ethereum

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The Financial Supervisory Authority of Iceland (FME) has approved Reykjavik-based Monerium as its first electronic money institution.

The designation, announced Friday, means that Monerium has regulatory approval to provide fiat payment services on a blockchain and use it throughout the European Economic Area. Electronic money is a well-established regulatory framework in Europe that’s been in use for years, Sveinn Valfells, CEO and co-founder of Monerium, explained to CoinDesk in a phone call.

It’s the first time, however, electronic money has been approved for use over a blockchain.

Monerium sees the fact that it’s working under an established framework as a competitive advantage, Valfells said, adding:

“For practical purposes, fiat will be the currency most people and institutions will want to use in the near- and medium-term. And if you are touching fiat in any way, you just have to comply with the relevant regulations.”

Monerium cofounder Jon H. Egilsson will discuss the news at a digital currency conference in Stockholm on Saturday. Egilsson was formerly chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Icelandic Central Bank.

Electronic money is fiat held and transferred digitally. The ConsenSys-backed Monerium will initially operate using the ethereum blockchain – though it is prepared to operate across public and private distributed ledgers, allowing expenditures and transfers to be made without an intermediary.

In a copy of his prepared remarks shared with CoinDesk in advance, Egilsson wrote:

“Monerium e-money encompasses the benefits of programmable money on blockchain, in addition to being the closest form of central bank money there is – based on a proven EU regulatory framework.”

The legal concept of an electronic money institution (EMI) dates back to the financial crisis, established in a 2009 act by the European Union. The rule is primarily used now for prepaid debit cards, Valfells explained.

Valfells argues that many companies making similar products, such as fiat-backed stablecoins, designed technology first and looked for regulators to approve it. Monerium instead decided to base its technology on an existing set of rules. Valfells said:

“We believe law is also protocol.”

How it works

Banks make money by turning deposits from customers into loans to borrowers. EMIs are more conservative with deposits.

From Egilsson’s remarks:

“Unlike bank deposits, an electronic institution (EMI) must safeguard clients funds separately from any other financial activities, such as lending. Instead, customer funds are invested in a segregated portfolio of high-quality liquid instruments along with regulatory minimum reserves. The structure is similar to a high-grade money market fund.”

The idea is that the EMI-model provides consumers with more protection. Fiat put into an EMI must always be redeemable without conditions.

By putting e-money on the blockchain, it also enables cross-border payments without a financial intermediary. The company plans to start with Icelandic krona (ISK). Once live, Monerium’s version of ISK will be usable throughout the EU and should shortly be usable in many other parts of the world with similar regulatory regimes. More currencies will follow.

As a regulated form of payment, it follows the typical know-your-customer, anti-money-laundering procedures familiar throughout the developed world.

Monerium is still in closed beta. For its earliest partners, an e-money ISK will be available in a matter of days, Valfells said. Valfells estimated that as early as Q4 2019, the e-money ISK should become available to a wider audience.

Team photo courtesy of Monerium. Pictured, left to right: Arni Gudjonsson (engineer), Gisli Kristjansson (co-founder and CTO), Sveinn Valfells (co-founder and CEO), Hjortur Hjartarson (co-founder and COO), Jon Gunnar Olafsson (counsel) and Jon Helgi Egilsson (co-founder and chairman)

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A New Bitcoin Exchange Point On the Colombian-Venezuelan Border Will Help Refugees

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A new cryptocurrency exchange service is available on the border between Colombia and Venezuela and its aim is to help refugees traveling across the Simon Bolivar International Bridge.

Visitors are now able to use the point-of-sale service with cryptocurrencies to buy goods. The POS is located in Santander, Colombia, just across the border from Venezuela. Panda Group created the payment alternative with refugees in mind. The group, a Columbian-Venezuela joint venture, announced the implementation of the new service through their Twitter account.

According to the data published by Coinatmradar.com, the service lets users exchange using bitcoin (BTC), bitcoin cash (BCH) and dai (DAI), and converts them into to Colombian Pesos (COP).

At the physical location – a small phone service provider in a mall called La Parada – customers can buy bitcoin with prices based on the Localbitcoins rate in pesos. The service will charge 10 percent above the market price and those who sell their bitcoins will do so for 5 percent more than the established market value.

This is not the first cryptocurrency service in the country. The Panda Group has already installed another five cryptocurrency exchanges in Colombia, most of them in the Colombian capital, Bogotá.

According to Panda CEO, Arley Lozano Jaramillo, their solutions are focused on helping the Venezuelan users and they announced the addition of a new service called Xpay.Cash to encourage adoption.

“This service is for all our brothers to pay directly in Cucuta with their cryptoassets and mitigate the loss of exchanging from BTC to COP, which represents a loss of at least 20%,” Jaramillo said.

Colombia has the highest rate of cryptocurrency investors in South America, next to Brazil. There are reportedly over 20 businesses accepting bitcoin payments in the country. The establishments are mainly focused in tourism, food and digital services.

Bitcoin At The Border

The ATM installed in Villa del Rosario City is connected to the Venezuelan border by the state of Tachira. The states are only separated by the Simon Bolivar International Bridge, one of the most heavily traveled borders used by Venezuelan refugees.

The refugee situation has also sparked a focus on the cryptocurrency, mainly for humanitarian aid purposes.

On the other hand, the last point of sale with cryptocurrency was implemented in Cúcuta, another border location with an growing Venezuelan population. The state also has a Bitcoin ATM, one of forty-two in the country.

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Fidelity-Backed Crypto Analytics Firm to Integrate Twitter-Based Crypto Sentiment Feed

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Crypto analytics firm Coin Metrics partnered with Social Market Analytics (SMA) to collaborate on a feed of real-time sentiment towards cryptocurrency based on social media data, according to a press release on June 17.

The new partnership intends to collect and analyze data posted by crypto community on social media in order to provide a new tool to help crypto traders to track social media sentiment data to build their portfolio strategies.

The new product will initially target sentiment data solely on social media giant Twitter, Coin Metrics CEO Tim Rice confirmed to Cointelegraph, adding that the firms are currently not considering integration of the service into Facebook.

Specifically,Coin Metrics will incorporate the product into market data platform, called the SMA cryptocurrency Sentiment Feed, providing calculated metrics of data on Twitter, according to a report by crypto media outlet The Block. In the report, Rice said that the calculation algorithms would include relevant tweets and calculate “19 different aggregate sentiment metrics down to snapshots of one minute.”

Social Market Analytics is providing social media-powered predictive data analytics to traditional capital markets participants in various markets, including stocks, forex, Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs), futures, among others. Since its establishment in 2012, SMA has been a Twitter Finance partner, the firm’s CEO Joe Gits stated in an email to Cointelegraph.

Meanwhile, Coin Metrics is backed by major American investment management company Fidelity in February 2019, which participated in a $1.9 million funding round in February 2019.

Earlier today, social media giant Facebook released the white paper for its long-anticipated cryptocurrency and blockchain-powered financial project known as Libra stablecoin.





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Bitcoin Falls Near $9,000 as US Stock Market Sees Gains

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Monday, June 17 — most of the top 20 cryptocurrencies are reporting moderate losses on the day by press time, as bitcoin (BTC) falls Near $9,000 mark again.

Market visualization courtesy of Coin360

Market visualization courtesy of Coin360

Bitcoin is currently down about 3% on the day, trading around $9,045 at press time, according to Coin360. Looking at its weekly chart, the coin is up around 11%.

Bitcoin 7-day price chart

Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: Coin360

As Cointelegraph reported earlier today, bitcoin surpassed one million daily active addresses on June 14, according to blockchain statistics website CoinMetrics.

Ether (ETH) is holding onto its position as the largest altcoin by market cap, which currently stands at $28.2 billion. The second-largest altcoin, Ripple’s XRP, has a market cap of $18.1 billion at press time.

Coin360 data shows that ETH has seen its value decrease by about 2.27% over the last 24 hours. At press time, ETH is trading around $265. On the week, the coin has also gained almost 6.8% of value.

Ether 7-day price chart

Ether 7-day price chart. Source: Coin360

XRP is down by just over 0.43% over the last 24 hours and is currently trading at around $0.430. On the week, the coin is up about 6.7%.

XRP 7-day price chart

XRP 7-day price chart. Source: Coin360

Yesterday news broke that major money transmission network MoneyGram has entered into a strategic partnership with blockchain-based payments firm Ripple.

Among the top 20 cryptocurrencies, the only ones reporting gains are binance coin (BNB), which is over 1% up, and DASH, which is up over 2%.

At press time, the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is $282.8 billion, over 11.6% higher than the value it reported a week ago.

As Cointelegraph reported earlier today, Social media giant Facebook has released the white paper for its long-awaited cryptocurrency and blockchain-based financial infrastructure project.

In traditional markets, the United States stock market is seeing gains so far today, with the S&P 500 up 1.17% and the Nasdaq up 1.73% at press time. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), on the other hand, has lost 0.46% on the day at press time.

Major oil futures and indexes are mixed movements today, with WTI Crude up 3.99%, Brent Crude up 2.43% and Mars US down 0.83% at press time. The OPEC Basket is up 0.57% and the Canadian Crude Index has seen its value increase by 5.57% in the 24 hours by press time, according to OilPrice.





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