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Upcoming AML Regulations in Estonia to Affect Cryptocurrency Industry

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Upcoming AML Regulations in Estonia to Affect Cryptocurrency Industry

Upcoming AML Regulations in Estonia to Affect Cryptocurrency Industry

Estonia is preparing to enforce a set of new anti-money laundering rules that will stiffen requirements for crypto companies operating under Estonian license. The changes come amid concerns that Russia may use crypto to evade western sanctions and an ongoing audit of the Baltic nation’s AML policies.

Government of Estonia Creates Stricter Regulatory Environment for Crypto Businesses

Estonia, whose banking sector has in the past been implicated in the processing of billions for suspicious Russian clients, is now taking steps to close the loopholes that could allow Russia, its elites, and allied Belarus to evade sanctions imposed over the invasion of Ukraine.

Next Tuesday, the country’s amended Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act will enter into force, introducing stringent standards. Crypto companies are going to bear the brunt of Estonia’s war against dirty money, Politico notes in a report.

The update will make the Estonian regulatory regime for platforms operating with digital assets even stricter than the upcoming EU rules. The framework adopted in 2017 was considered too loose as it allowed hundreds of businesses, many based elsewhere, to obtain licensing from Estonia.

Speaking to the publication, Minister of Finance Keit Pentus-Rosimannus insisted that Estonia welcomes innovation but emphasized that it will not tolerate financial crime and will uphold the prevention of money laundering as a priority. He further commented:

Supervision was simply not possible. But the risk was ours because they operated with an Estonian license. That was one thing that was changed with the law.

Authorities in Estonia intend to make it harder for companies to join its crypto space. Entities offering digital wallet and online exchange services will have to meet a minimum capital requirement in the amount of €100,000 ($109,000) and those providing custodial services will need to show at least €250,000.

The new legislation will also introduce higher registration fees, stricter due diligence obligations, and heavier regulatory scrutiny. Furthermore, crypto companies will be required to maintain a presence in the country, unlike before.

Tallinn is tightening crypto oversight amid an ongoing audit of the country’s safeguards against illicit financial flows conducted by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (Moneyval).

Auditors, who will conclude their task in December, are examining digital asset regulations among other policies. The stakes are high for Estonia as the Baltic nation may end up on a “gray list,” alongside Malta, another small EU member state that tried to become a crypto-friendly destination.

The Estonian government is hardening its approach despite policy makers in Brussels still considering EU’s Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) proposal. What’s more, the European standards are expected to be less stringent than the new Estonian regulations. Capital requirements for crypto service providers, as proposed by the European Commission, range between €50,000 and €150,000.

Do you expect many crypto businesses to move out of Estonia after the country implements its stricter regulations? Tell us in the comments section below.

Lubomir Tassev

Lubomir Tassev is a journalist from tech-savvy Eastern Europe who likes Hitchens’s quote: “Being a writer is what I am, rather than what I do.” Besides crypto, blockchain and fintech, international politics and economics are two other sources of inspiration.

Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a direct offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation or endorsement of any products, services, or companies. Bitcoin.com does not provide investment, tax, legal, or accounting advice. Neither the company nor the author is responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article.

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Miami’s Mayor Remains Unfazed by Crypto Crash, Still Receives His Paycheck in Bitcoin

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Miami’s Mayor Remains Unfazed by Crypto Crash, Still Receives His Paycheck in Bitcoin

Despite the tragedy of TerraUSD (UST) de-pegging and the subsequent chaos that plagued the cryptocurrency markets, Miami’s mayor remains resolute in receiving his salary in Bitcoin, but it seems he has other streams of income.

At the World Economic Forum (WEF), Miami Mayor Francis Suarez told attendees of a panel that he was still receiving his paycheck in Bitcoin and has no plans to stop. Suarez’s comments are coming on the heels of plummeting cryptocurrency prices over the last few months with Bitcoin down by over 30% in the last 2 months.

The Mayor told the audience that he remains unperturbed by the mayhem in crypto streets and will continue accepting his salary in Bitcoin. A reason for his cool, calm, and collected nerves is because of his multiple income streams that might serve as a buffer during volatile moments.

“I will note, for the record, that it’s not my only salary,” said Suarez. “It’s a different decision than if a person was deciding to take their salary in Bitcoin if it was the only source of income for them.”

Mayor Suarez drew the attention of cryptocurrency enthusiasts last year when he announced that he will begin taking his entire paycheck as Mayor in Bitcoin. Before the announcement, Suarez publicly announced his desire to pay government employees in Bitcoin as part of efforts to improve crypto adoption in the city. 

Making Miami the crypto capital of the U.S. 

Mayor Suarez has been making moves to make Miami a leading crypto hub since his assumption of office. The city has been receptive to cryptocurrency miners, and there have been conversations about allowing citizens to pay bills and taxes with crypto.

“I want us to differentiate ourselves as a crypto capital of the United States or the world,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg.

Suarez has been backing his claim with actions, with the city famously launching MiamiCoin which netted the city over $5.2 million. In November 2021, there were plans for the city to distribute $21 million to Miami’s citizens through the ambitious plans to create a digital wallet for each citizen.

Miami was the center of attention after successfully hosting the Bitcoin 2022 conference. Major players in Bitcoin’s ecosystem like MicroStrategy’s CEO Michael Saylor, ARK Invest CEO Cathie Wood, billionaire Peter Thiel, CEO of Strike Jack Mallers, and others. Nayib Bukele, El Salvador’s pro-Bitcoin president, was scheduled to make an appearance but pulled out due to unforeseen circumstances.

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Billionaire Investor Ray Dalio Says ‘Cash Is Still Trash’, Prefers ‘Digital Gold Bitcoin’

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Billionaire Investor Ray Dalio Says ‘Cash Is Still Trash’, Prefers ‘Digital Gold Bitcoin’

Billionaire investor and hedge fund manager, Ray Dalio, has reiterated his previous call that “cash is trash”. Dismissing equities as “trashier”, the Bridgewater Associates founder said he preferred “a digital gold like bitcoin” instead.

“Of course, cash is still trash,” Dalio said. “Do you know how fast you’re losing buying power in cash?” He was speaking on CNBC’s Squawk Box during the ongoing World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

“When I say cash is trash, what I mean is all currencies in [relation] to the euro, in relationship to the yen,” he explained. “All of those currencies like in the 1930s will be currencies that will go down in relationship to goods and services.”

Dalio is the founder of the world’s biggest hedge fund firm, Bridgewater Associates, which manages around $223 billion. In January 2020, the 72-year-old American investor advised people to diversify their portfolios by “getting out of cash”, which he called “trash”.

Bitcoin as ‘digital gold’

At Davos, Dalio spoke about a range of issues including stocks, the global economic outlook, and the U.S. central bank’s efforts to combat inflation. He said stock markets had become too crowded, and that compared to cash, “equities are trashier”.

“Everybody is long equities, and everybody wants everything to go up,” said Dalio. “The more they hype it the more it becomes somebody else’s financial asset they’re holding. You can’t have that, so you’re going to have an environment of negative real returns.”

For the billionaire, bitcoin (BTC) is a preferred form of investment at a time of worldwide economic uncertainty. His list of safe-haven assets also includes real estate and precious metals such as gold.

“I think blockchain’s great,” Dalio stated. He touted cryptocurrency’s potential as a fix to what he expects to be a tough year for the U.S. economy, marked by high inflation and a lack of real returns on investments. Continuing, he said:

“But let’s call it a digital gold. I think a digital gold, which would be a bitcoin kind of thing, is something that – probably in the interest of diversification of finding an alternative to gold – has a little spot relative to gold and then relative to other assets.”

Bitcoin’s inflation-hedge credentials under spotlight

Dalio’s comments come against the backdrop of rising disillusionment in the credentials of bitcoin as an inflation-hedge asset. Proponents have argued that bitcoin is a gold-like store of value.

In 2020, many people believed BTC was now poised to transition from a risk-on speculative asset to the crypto market’s version of the metal after its correlation to gold jumped to an all-time high.

But that argument may have started to fall apart with the massive decline in crypto markets this year. Bloomberg data shows that BTC’s correlation to gold dropped to almost zero earlier in January, and as bitcoin prices fell in later months, gold continued to rise.

In April, the 50-day correlation coefficient for BTC and gold was around minus 0.4, the lowest since 2018, Bloomberg said. A reading of 1 implies assets are moving in lockstep, and minus 1 is the reverse.

Crypto markets have become more tied to the stock market instead, particularly to blue-chip technology stocks such as Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft. More than $1.5 trillion has been wiped off the face of crypto markets so far this year.

Dalio forecasts ‘squeeze on demand’

Dalio, the Bridgewater Associates founder, painted a gloomy picture of the global economy in 2022. He expects inflation in the U.S and elsewhere around the world to erode the purchasing power of money, saying:

“We are in an environment that we are now going to ask ‘what is the new money?”

On bonds, he said: “The Federal Reserve is going to sell, individuals are selling, foreigners are selling, and the U.S. government is selling because it has to fund its deficit. So there’s going to be a supply/demand problem, that means that it produces a squeeze.”

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Polkadot parachains spike after the launch of a $250M aUSD stablecoin fund

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Polkadot parachains spike after the launch of a $250M aUSD stablecoin fund

Crypto prices have been exploring new lows for weeks and currently it’s unclear what it will take to reverse the trend. Despite the downtrend, cryptocurrencies within the Polkadot (DOT) ecosystem began to rally on May 24 and have managed to maintain gains ranging from 10% to 25%, a possible sign that certain sub-sectors of the market are on the verge of a breakout.

Here’s a look at three Polkadot ecosystem protocols that have seen their token prices trend higher in recent days.

Acala launches a $250 million aUSD ecosystem fund

Acala (ACA) is the leading decentralized finance (DeF) platform on the Polkadot network, primarily due to the launch of aUSD, the first native stablecoin in the Polkadot ecosystem.

Following the collapse of Terra’s LUNA and TerraUSD (UST), traders were searching for “safer” stablecoin options.

On March 23, ACA rallied after the project announced the launch of a $250 million “aUSD Ecosystem Fund” that aims to support early-stage startups planning to build strong stablecoin use cases on any Polkadot or Kusama parachain.

— Acala (@AcalaNetwork) March 23, 2022

Acala also announced the launch of a kickoff rewards program that has set aside 1 million ACA tokens as rewards for LCDOT/DOT, LCDOT/aUSD, ACA/aUSD and aUSD/LDOT liquidity providers.

Following the aUSD ecosystem fund announcement, the price of ACA spiked 31% from a low of $0.364 on May 23 to a daily high of $0.478 on May 24.

Astar rallies after revealing a partnership with Microsoft

The Astar (ASTR) network is a smart contract hub for the Polkadot community that supports Ethereum (ETH), WebAssembly and other layer-two solutions like zk-Rollups.

Since the Polkadot relay chain doesn’t offer Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) support, Astar was created to become a multi-chain smart contract platform capable of supporting multiple blockchains and virtual machines so that they can integrate with the Polkadot ecosystem.

On May 24, it was revealed that AstridDAO, an Astar-based protocol responsible for minting the collateralized BAI stablecoin, had signed a partnership with Microsoft to become part of Microsoft for Startups, an initiative “which removes traditional barriers to building a company with exclusive access to technology, coaching, marketing and support.”

— AstridDAO – No.1 native stablecoin on Astar (@AstridDAO) May 24, 2022

If successful, the partnership should accelerate AstridDAO’s go-to-market speed and maximize its market influence. It also includes up to $350,000 worth of benefits through Github Enterprise, Microsoft Teams and Azure credits.

Following the partnership announcement, the price of ASTR spiked 61% from $0.055 to a daily high of $0.0888.

Related: Polkadot vs. Ethereum: Two equal chances to dominate the Web3 world

Uniswap v3 to deploy on Moonbeam

Moonbeam (GLMR) is an Ethereum-compatible smart contract parachain on Polkadot that streamlines the use of Ethereum developer tools to build or redeploy Solidity projects in a substrate-based environment.

Interoperability with the Ethereum network is a highly sought-after capability since a majority of decentralized applications currently operate on Ethereum along with a majority of the value in decentralized finance.

The benefit of EVM interoperability was demonstrated with the May 24 announcement that a proposal to deploy Uniswap (UNI) v3 on the Moonbeam network passed, meaning that the top decentralized exchange in the crypto ecosystem will soon be accessible to Moonbeam users.

— Uniswap Labs (@Uniswap) May 23, 2022

Following the announcement, the price of GLMR climbed 29% from a low of $1.15 on May 23 to a daily high at $1.48 on May 24 as its 24-hour trading volume increased 106% to $75.3 million.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.

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