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OKCoin Exchange Launches in US Offering Fiat-to-Crypto Trading


Cryptocurrency exchange OKCoin has launched a branch in the U.S. market offering trading services between U.S. dollars and several major cryptocurrencies.

According to OKCoin's website on Friday, the exchange has already launched the new offering and is now accepting U.S. dollars deposits and withdrawals, as well as trading against bitcoin, bitcoin cash, litecoin, ethereum and ethereum classic.

For the new offshoot, the company filed a money service business (MSB) registration with the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in November 2017. The document shows that the legal entity behind the exchange is called OKCoin USA Inc. and is based in Mountain View, California.

However, OKCoin states on its website that the fiat-to-crypto trading service is currently limited to investors in California – a limitation indicated in the initial MSB filing.

The news follows a report weeks ago revealing a similar move by Huobi, which launched a purely crypto-to-crypto trading service this month for all 50 states in the U.S. through a partner entity dubbed HBUS.

Earlier this year, HBUS also filed an MSB registration with FinCEN. However, Li Lin, co-founder and chief executive of Huobi, noted at the time that registering with FinCEN does not resolve all of the possible regulatory issues that come with operating within the U.S.

As previously reported by CoinDesk, both OKCoin and Huobi were once two of the three major crypto exchanges in China before the notable trading ban issued by the People's Bank of China in September 2017.

Following the regulatory clampdown, the exchanges shifted their businesses overseas with a focus largely on crypto-to-crypto trading.

Crypto Exchange Gemini Hires Former NYSE Tech Chief


Cryptocurrency exchange Gemini has hired former New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) chief information officer Robert Cornish to serve as its first chief technology officer.

The exchange, founded by investor-brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, announced Friday that Cornish would be in charge of Gemini's technology team and strategy, according to a press release. Further, Cornish will be overseeing the deployment of Nasdaq's SMARTS Market Surveillance, a benchmark for «real-time and T1» solutions for market surveillance.

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Crypto Exchanges Are Suddenly Being Censored In Iran


«Every crypto exchange in Iran [has been] filtered since May.»

That's how one Iranian bitcoin advocate, speaking on condition of anonymity, described a new wave of government censorship that has cut Iranians off from vital links to the crypto economy ahead of a scheduled renewal of U.S. sanctions in August and November.

Several Iranians exclusively told CoinDesk they are having trouble accessing crypto exchanges like Binance, Blockchain and LocalBitcoins, even with virtual private networks (VPNs) and other workarounds that were already commonplace because of international sanctions.

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Thai Securities Firms to Team Up for Crypto Exchange Launch


A group of traditional securities firms in Thailand is planning to jointly launch a new cryptocurrency exchange, a report indicates.

According to the Bangkok Post on Monday, the Association of Securities Companies (ACE) – a body that represents the country's securities firms – said it is in talks with regulators about allowing established financial firms to offer crypto exchange services.

Furthermore, the association's chairwoman, Pattera Dilokrungthirapop, said in the article that at least several securities companies are filing a registration application with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as preparation for the launch of a crypto exchange.

Dilokrungthirapop explained that, since traditional financial companies need to incorporate new systems to protect investors' assets, and keep those assets separate from their own, they may be better off uniting to build a single platform to «reduce operating costs and collaborate on sharing innovative technology.»

ACE said the move comes at a time when its member companies have shown increasing interest in stepping into crypto-related businesses, such as offering trading and facilitating initial coin offerings.

As previously reported by CoinDesk, Thailand passed a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies in May, which is now pending publication in the country's Royal Gazette before becoming law.

Under the new rules, any entity that conducts crypto exchange transactions or initial coin offerings in Thailand must be registered and approved by the SEC.

Coinbase's New Custody Service Is Now Live


Coinbase's institutional product has begun accepting deposits, the exchange announced Monday.

Coinbase Custody, aimed at institutional hedge funds and other clients who can deposit a minimum of $10 million, accepted its first deposit last week, the company announced on Twitter. Now, the new service is live for all customers.

The exchange currently holds more than $20 billion in crypto assets, it also said Monday — a number the company hopes Custody will help raise by another $10 billion.

First announced in November 2017, Coinbase Custody's clients will pay $100,000 as a set-up fee and a 10 basis point fee-per-month on the assets being held, as previously reported by CoinDesk.

The product was formally launched in May, when the firm further explained its plans to work with a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission-regulated broker-dealer. The exchange went one step further earlier last month, when it announced it was in the process of acquiring a broker-dealer license, an alternative trading system license and an investment advisor license.

Should the licenses be approved, Coinbase will be able to begin offering securities on top of its current products.

At present, Coinbase Custody is open to clients in the U.S. and Europe. While no firm timeline was announced, the exchange said it hopes to open up to clients in Asia by the end of 2018.

Coinbase CEO Unveils Crypto Charity for the Unbanked


Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong wants to help unbanked individuals around the world gain access to financial services.

On Wednesday, the exchange's co-founder announced he was launching a nonprofit organization to financially empower people and donate cryptocurrency to the unbanked worldwide. GiveCrypto.org aims to partner with other nonprofit entities to find potential recipients who could benefit from these cryptocurrency donations.

In a release, Armstrong wrote that «most people I respect and know in the crypto ecosystem believe we have a moral responsibility to shepherd this technology forward in a way that allows it to reach its full potential.» He cited lower fees, reduced transaction times, micropayments and mobile device-friendly payment systems as some of the advantages for blockchain technology.

He wrote:

«Many who invested early in cryptocurrencies understood it could make the financial system more efficient, lower fees, and reduce transaction times. Early adopters saw the potential to unlock widespread innovation if the internet had a native currency. And almost everyone I met in the community early on believed cryptocurrency could finally bank the unbanked of the world—the billions of people who are locked out of the financial system and trapped in poverty as a result.»
The nonprofit aims to raise $10 million by the end of 2018 and increase its funding to $1 billion within the next two years, he said. He plans for the organization to «give away less than the amount that the fund grows each year,» ensuring its longevity.

Initial recipients will live in «emerging markets who are going through financial crisis,» Armstrong said.

Japan's Finance Minister Balks at Changing Crypto Tax Rules


Japan's top financial official is cautious about the idea of his nation changing how it taxes gains from cryptocurrencies.

During a meeting with the budget committee of the Upper House on June 25, Senator Kenji Fukimaki asked whether Japan's tax policy on cryptocurrency profits could be changed from its current «miscellaneous income» classification to «separate declared taxation,» Reuters reported. Taro Aso, the deputy prime minister and minister of finance, said he was cautious about making such a change.

Aso explained that, in his view, it was «doubtful» that the general public would understand such a change. He cited the «international nature» of cryptocurrency as one reason why Japanese residents might dislike a change in tax classification. The finance minister also said he was unsure about the «tax fairness» of implementing such a change.

At present, profits earned by investors in cryptocurrency can be taxed between 15 and 55 percent, due to the miscellaneous income rules, according to Bloomberg. Stock profits, which are treated more like separate declared taxes, are taxed at roughly 20 percent in the country.

While the finance official has doubts about cryptocurrency taxation, he still expressed support for blockchain technology in general, saying they have uses apart from cryptocurrencies.

Editor's note: Statements in this article have been translated from Japanese.

A New Business Model Is Shaking Up the Crypto Exchange Rankings


The recently introduced «trans-fee mining» revenue model is starting to change the cryptocurrency exchange landscape, despite some criticism of the method from industry insiders.

According to CoinMarketCap, two exchanges have just shot to the top of the 24-hour trading volume rankings after rolling out trans-fee mining for users.

The data shows that 24-hour trading volume on Singapore-based CoinBene is now almost $2 billion, while on Hong Kong's Bit-Z the figure is close to $1.5 billion – both well ahead of the $1 billion in volume posted by the previous leader, Binance.

First featured by FCoin, a new exchange launched in May by a former chief technology officer of Huobi, the trans-fee mining model sees crypto exchanges issue their own tokens as a means to incentivize users to trade on the platform.

In Bit-Z's example, according to its white paper, the platform plans to produce its BZ token with a capped total issuance of 300 million. For every transaction fee a user pays to Bit-Z in the form of either bitcoin or ethereum, the platform will reimburse the user 100 percent of the value in its token.

Based on announcements from the two companies, CoinBene launched its offering on June 18, while Bit-Z started on Monday. Notably, the sudden spike in trading volume seen as a result pushed them to become the top two global platforms within days of their respective token issuances.

As previously reported by CoinDesk, one of the controversies associated with the nascent model is that it could incentivize users to create fake transactions using automated bots in an effort to obtain the tokens issued by exchanges.

After FCoin's trading volume first spiked in the last month, the Chinese cryptocurrency media, as well as Binance, also weighed in with allegations that the model is, in essence, an initial coin offering (ICO) and that the token's price could be manipulated by exchanges.

Zhao Changpeng, founder and CEO of Binance, further questioned whether the model is sustainable in the long-term.

Related news indicates that the criticisms may not be deterring exchanges from adopting trans-fee mining, however. BigONE – an exchange backed by Chinese crypto investor Li Xiaolai – is also moving to adopt the model, according to the company's website.

Korea's Exchange Hacks: What the Country's Crypto Scene Is Saying


The past two weeks have seen two South Korean exchanges get attacked and robbed, sparking commentary and critique among the country's local cryptocurrency community.

It began with the Coinrail hack on June 9. At the time, the popular South Korean cryptocurrency exchange tentatively announced a «cyber intrusion» that saw the loss of $40 million worth of cryptocurrencies.

The exact number and amount of tokens taken from the exchange have yet to be confirmed by the company itself, though a third-party firm assisting Coinrail gave a few estimates in a blog post the following day.

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