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Switzerland enshrines its crypto-friendly policies into law

Switzerland just became the first major financial center with a full set of laws to govern blockchain commerce.

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In brief

  • The Swiss Senate has overwhelmingly approved legislation making it easier to use cryptocurrencies and decentralized finance.
  • The new legislation enables companies to create digital shares and other tradable assets.
  • The laws are expected to come into effect early next year.

Cryptocurrency-friendly Switzerland has passed wide-ranging legislation opening the door to cryptocurrencies and decentralized finance (DeFi); enabling companies to create digital shares, as well as a range of other tradable assets.

The financial and corporate law reforms, passed by parliamentarians today in the Swiss Senate, complement Switzerland’s so-called Blockchain Act, which received overwhelming approval in the House of Representatives last summer. It’s expected to come into force early next year. 

The effect of the country’s new amended legal code is to welcome cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology into the mainstream. 

Urs Bolt, one of Switzerland’s top FinTech influencers, and product manager for digital banking at leading digitization specialist ti&m, told Decrypt that the new laws “will make it easier for neo crypto finance firms and incumbents alike.” 

The new legal code covers the exchange of digital securities, sets standards for cryptocurrency exchanges, and addresses money laundering issues, legitimizing an industry that many are wary of. 

“Overall it will create one of the most favorable regulatory environments in the world. It will allow the financial center to lead in the digital asset space and hopefully attract new business into CryptoValley,” he said.

Meanwhile, Efi Pylarinou, a blockchain and FinTech adviser based in Switzerland, called the law reforms “a very strong signal in the right direction to support an emerging genuinely disruptive technology.”

The first major financial sector to enact crypto legislation

While Switzerland is not the first country to enact extensive blockchain legislation (neighboring Liechtenstein has already done so, as has Malta), it’s the first major financial sector to do so. 

“After Liechtenstein passed its “Blockchain Act” last year, which came into effect in January this year, the Swiss government had to move quick to pass its own “Blockchain Act” in order to maintain its leading position as the most crypto-friendly nation in the world,” Stefan Deiss, founder, and CEO of Blockchain Propulsion, told Decrypt. The business issues digital assets through its Swiss banking-grade platform and has regulatory approval in Liechtenstein and Switzerland.  

But unlike Liechtenstein, Switzerland had no need to create a new law, given its regulatory flexibility, so existing laws had only to be amended—and will likely be amended again, as the sector develops.

Notably, the Blockchain Act doesn’t address any prospect of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) or tax laws relating to cryptocurrencies. 

Boomtime in Crypto Valley?

Dubbed Crypto Valley, the Swiss canton of Zug is the epicenter of Switzerland’s thriving cryptocurrency industry. Over 900 blockchain companies have set up shop in Switzerland in recent years, due to its legal, regulatory, and tax advantages.

The non-profit foundations which govern leading blockchain platforms such as Ethereum, Cardano, and Tezos are based in Switzerland, alongside crypto banks Seba and Sygnum, dozens of asset managers, and a huge variety of startup projects, such Facebook’s crypto initiative Libra. 

Already there have been signs that cryptocurrencies are entering the mainstream in Switzerland. Swiss banks UBS and Credit Suisse are involved in blockchain payment trials, and another, Julius Bär, has partnered with Seba. 

The crypto bank, together with its rival Sygnum, was granted a license last year by the Swiss regulator, FINMA. They were the first such licenses granted anywhere in the world, and enable the banks to integrate cryptocurrency into a wide range of services: deposits, withdrawals, lending, and investing.

But the new legislation goes beyond banking, and may reshape and democratize finance, lending and derivatives—all while offering greater privacy.

“This legislation not only paves the way to the tokenization of company shares and various other tangible assets but progressively pushes the industry towards the decentralization of finance,” said Deiss.  

The final vote on Switzerland’s Blockchain Act, at the end of September, is a mere formality. Switzerland is now indisputably leading the pack on the changes to come.

Source: https://decrypt.co/41433/switzerland-enshrines-its-crypto-friendly-policies-into-law

Blockchain

SEC responsible for $15 billion in damages to XRP holders: Ripple

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Weeks after the United States’ Securities and Exchange Commission filed an amended complaint in its lawsuit against Ripple Labs, the latter has now filed an official response, with the same asserting that the SEC is picking virtual currency winners and losers by exempting Bitcoin and Ether from the scrutiny of similar regulations.

According to Ripple, XRP was designed to be a “better Bitcoin” and more secure because control over the XRPL is more distributed.

Ripple’s response also pointed out that the mere filing of the SEC’s complaint has caused immense harm to XRP holders, cutting the value of their holdings substantially and contributing to numerous exchanges, market makers, and other market participants ceasing trading activities involving XRP. The blockchain firm argued that in bringing a case that alleges an unregistered securities offering of just over $1.3 billion from several years ago, the SEC has already caused more than approximately $15 billion in damages to those it “purports to protect.”

The 100-page document also went on to accuse the SEC of mischaracterizing several items on the record, including the claim that Ripple’s sales of XRP constituted a “significant part” of the XRP. According to Ripple, these sales constituted less than 0.4% of the total XRP transaction volume in nearly all periods.

To conclude, Ripple equivocally denied all charges in the SEC’s amended complaint, calling the allegations “overarching.”

“We’re looking forward to learning more about the SEC’s meetings with major XRP market participants who asked for guidance but were never told that XRP transactions would be subject to federal securities laws,” Stuart Alderoty, Ripple’s General Counsel, added on Twitter.

The timing of the said development is interesting, especially since it came just a day after Ripple execs Brad Garlinghouse and Chris Larsen filed motions to dismiss the amended complaint.


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Source: https://ambcrypto.com/sec-responsible-for-15-billion-in-damages-to-xrp-holders-ripple

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How to Protect Yourself from the Cryptojacking Threat

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Though fairly common in today’s age, for many, Cryptojacking might still be a brand-new term. What is Cryptojacking? Is this a threat for all computer and internet users? How can we prevent falling victim to Cryptojacking? And many more such questions are common. Some of the most common concerns have been addressed below.

What happens in Cryptojacking?

Cryptojacking is the latest, most innovative, shape of cybercrime. These jackers will use your computer to mine cryptocurrencies maliciously. This can happen on both personal and business laptops, computers, and mobile devices. Cybercriminals hack into any of these devices to install software that uses the computer/laptop/smartphone’s resources and power to mine cryptocurrencies or steal wallets of unsuspecting victims. This is a grave threat as it is hard to detect and easy to deploy and run in the background. The main idea is using another computer and device’s resources to do crypto mining work for them and whatever earnings or steals they make from the hijacked computers, they siphon it into their own digital wallets. 

Cryptojacking Methods

There are three main methods cryptojackers can opt for to maliciously mine for cryptocurrencies. Let’s skim through them so you know how to better protect yourself against them.

Browser-based Cryptojacking

This happens when the hacker uses IT infrastructure to mine and attack directly within the web browser. They create a crypto mining script that is embedded into different websites. These scripts can be embedded into out-of-date WordPress plugins or ads where they run automatically while the code gets downloaded into the user’s computer. 

File-Based Cryptojacking

File-based cryptojacking starts from downloading malware that runs an executable file. A Cryptomining script is spread through this file all around the IT infrastructure. The most common way to do so is to spread malicious emails with links or attachments that look fairly legitimate for the user to click on them. If they click, the code is executed and downloads the crypto mining script to work in the background on the user’s computer without their knowledge.

Cloud Cryptojacking

Cloud Cryptojacking is used when a hacker searches for API keys through an organization’s code and files to gain access to their cloud services. They then gather unlimited CPU resources for crypto mining and this resultantly increases account costs quite significantly. Hackers illicitly mine for currencies using this method as it helps them accelerate at a much faster rate. 

How to detect Cryptojacking?

The crypto mining scripts generated by hackers can be very tricky to detect and locate, which is why you need a highly vigilant IT team at work 24/7 for your organization’s operation. Here are some common signs that will tell you something’s wrong before it’s too late and practices that can help you detect cryptojacking, look out for these!

Overheating

Just like any other intensive task, Cryptojacking involves resource processing that can heat your computing device quickly. Overheating will shorten the lifespan of your device and damage it immensely. Moreover, overheating means the fans in your devices will run longer than they should to keep the system cool and running.

Decreased performance

One of the major signs of cryptojacking is a decrease in the performance of your laptop, PC, mobile device, or tablet. If you observe an unexplained decrease in processing speed, immediately call an IT technician and get it checked. If you’re running an organization, educate all your employees about their cybersecurity and about signs and symptoms they need to report. 

Regular Website Checks

Regularly monitor your website and all its web pages to make sure there are no changes to the files and webpages on the web server. This is a great way to prevent a Cryptojacking attack.

Monitor CPU Usage

Analyze your CPU usage regularly by using a task manager or activity monitor. An unjustified increase in the CPU usage means there’s something fishy going on. Especially for a website that has little to no media content that could drive traffic. 

Protection against Cryptojacking?

Following are some recommendations from security experts on the prevention of Cryptojacking.

Maintain good security hygiene

Establish solid security hygiene to lower the risk of Cryptojacking as all such attackers are opportunists and always on the hunt for wear, vulnerable venue. Hackers run numerous exploits on websites and get through whenever there is a patch.

Web filtering

Keep your web filtering tools up to date and make sure your users are blocked from accessing a webpage that you identified delivering Cryptojacking scripts. 

Anti-crypto mining browser extensions

To coin the cash and deploy the Cryptojacking script, crypto-miner hooks into web browsers. You can use browser extensions to block such crypto miners. Browser extensions such as No Coin, minerBlock, and Anti Miner can be used. 

Disable JavaScript and enabling Ad-Blockers

Disabling JavaScript when browsing online will protect Cryptojacking code from infecting your device. And, Ad-blockers will detect and block crypto-mining codes that are commonly placed in web ads.

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Blockchain Association meeting with key Biden staff about regulations

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U.S.-based crypto advocacy group, the Blockchain Association, is lobbying key figures in the Biden administration to advocate for more favorable regulations.

The Association’s executive director, Kristin Smith, told Fox Business the group has already met with or is in the process of scheduling meetings with high-ranking Whitehouse officials including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Deputy Secretary nominee and former BlackRock executive Wally Adeyemo, along with representatives of the Treasury Department.

Citing reported comments from Yellen about how the primary utility of cryptocurrency is “illicit financing,” Smith said the association’s key aim was to assist the Treasury chief to “understand the value of crypto networks:”

Our number one priority is helping Yellen understand crypto goes beyond the financing of criminal enterprises.”

Yellen has been criticized by the crypto sector for describing Bitcoin as “an extremely inefficient way of conduction transactions,” and speculating that BTC is not “widely used as a transaction mechanism.”

Despite her apparent hostility toward Bitcoin, Yellen has expressed openness to centralized DLT, with the secretary stating a digital dollar could offer “faster, safe, and cheaper payments” than existing fiat currency last month.

Adam Traidman, CEO of crypto wallet BRD, indicated representatives of the crypto sector are “trying to work as high up the Treasury food chain as we can,” adding:

“We’re not opposed to regulation and compliance, but we need time to spur innovation and grease the skids for adoption of crypto first.”

Traidman emphasized concerns regarding regulations for wallets and crypto-to-crypto transactions, stating: “One of our main goals is to carve out crypto to crypto transactions from most regulations. If crypto transfers have to meet wire transfer rules, that will harm the industry.”

Some in the crypto community have also expressed concern regarding Joe Biden’s nominee for chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Gary Gensler — who has previously described Ethereum’s 2014 ICO as an unregistered securities offering.

Earlier this week, Gensler told the Senate Banking Committee the SEC will work to ensure the crypto markets “are free of fraud and manipulation,” accusing off-shore exchanges of having been “rife with fraud.”

The Blockchain Association’s members include crypto heavyweights Circle, Binance.US, Grayscale, and Kraken.

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Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/blockchain-association-meeting-with-key-biden-staff-about-regulations

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