Blockchain News 18 January 2018

Telegram attracted $ 850 million. According to sources, due to the huge number of participants at the pre-sell stage, Telegram already refuses investors and increases the amount of the first round of ICO from $ 600 million to $ 850 million. There is no official information yet.  More about Telegram ICO

Morgan Stanley joins other banks in clearing Bitcoin futures

Morgan Stanley has been clearing Bitcoin futures contracts for big institutional clients and convenes a regular meeting of executives to consider how else to engage with cryptocurrencies, Chief Financial Officer Jonathan Pruzan said.

“If someone wants to do a trade on the futures and settle in cash, we’ll do that,” Pruzan said Thursday in a telephone interview. “I wouldn’t say it’s been a lot of activity, but it’s for core institutional clients who want to participate in a derivatives transaction.”

Morgan Stanley joins rival Goldman Sachs Group Inc. as the only major Wall Street firms known to offer the service to clients.

Virginia Bitcoin mining center receives $500k grant

After lowering taxes on property and equipment for data centers, the Virginia Beach Development Authority has taken another step to boost the industry, awarding Bitcoin mining venture BCause LLC a $500,000 grant towards a $65m commercial facility.

The data center will process transactions at a high scale and generate cryptocurrency.

The BCause LLC facility could launch operations as early as next week.

The Virginian Pilot reports that once operational, the data center will house thousands of privately owned GPUs as well as lease machines to individual customers.

BCause founder Tom Flake believes that “the economy is going to be disrupted in a meaningful way” by the technology, and that the facility will provide the necessary infrastructure to capitalize on it.

Insider trading investigation of Korean minister begins after false cryptocurrency trading ban announcement

An official from South Korea’s Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) has reportedly said that an investigation is underway into claimed insider trading within his organization.

According to the Korea Times, Choi said:

“We’ve acknowledged allegations that an FSS official sold crypto-assets based on insider information before the government’s updated announcement to regulate the market. We are looking into this case.”

Yonhap news agency also indicates that multiple staff may have been involved in insider trading.

The alleged insider trading is said to have occurred prior to Korean regulators announcing new rules on cryptocurrency trading in the country – a move that has been, at least in part, linked to the recent slump in prices across the crypto markets.


Ledger raises $75M in fundraising

Cryptocurrency and blockchain security company, Ledger, today announced they have raised USD 75 million (EUR 61 million), led by Draper Esprit. The investment will enable the company to significantly scale up its operations as demand for their products increases at pace.

The fundraising process of the Series B was handled by the management team — CEO, President and CTO, as well as Thomas France, VP Business Development, and Jean-Michel Pailhon, VP Corporate Development. Baker&McKenzie (Matt Grollemund, Hélène Parent) represented the Company. Ledger had already raised USD 8.3 million in a Series A back in March 2017.

Blockstream launches micropayment processing system for building Bitcoin apps on top of its Lightning Network

Bitcoin startup Blockstream has released a micropayment processing system called ‘Lightening Charge’ which it claims, makes it simpler to build bitcoin apps on top of its Lightning Network.

According to a company blog post:

Together, these additions make it easy for developers to use c-lightning to create their own, independent web-payment infrastructures.

“Web developers will … get expanded functionality such as currency conversion, invoice metadata, streaming payment updates, and webhooks,” the post states.

Rather than changing bitcoin’s underlying code, Lightning effectively adds an extra layer to the network by which transactions would theoretically be made more cheaply and more quickly than directly on bitcoin’s blockchain.

Last month, prepaid phone payment provider Bitrefill reportedly used Lightning to top up a cellphone.

Blockchain News 18 January 2018

Belarus’ cryptocurrency legalization and tax free zone begins March 28th

The decree signed by Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko in December that legalizes cryptocurrencies, smart contracts and ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) will come into force in March this year. As per the decree, cryptocurrency activities will be unrestricted and exempted from tax for five years i.e 2023.

This decree is titled “On the development of the digital economy” which will go into effect on March 28, 2018.

Iryna Chelyshava, an associate attorney at a Belarusian law firm of Vlasova Mikhel & Partners explained:

The decree entitles legal entities and individual entrepreneurs who are residents of the High Technology Park (the HTP) to perform operations with tokens (including cryptocurrency). Others can use tokens in the territory of Belarus through residents of the HTP.

Similar to the Silicon Valley in the US, the HTP is a special economic zone that has a specific legal regime and tax in Belarus.

HTP further clarified:

Activity such as mining, acquisition, alienation of tokens, carried out by individuals, are not entrepreneurial activities, and tokens are not subject to declaration. At the same time, until 2023, activities related to mining, the creation, acquisition, and alienation of tokens are not taxed.

HTP also mentioned that by legalizing smart contracts at the country level, Belarus will now join Estonia and Japan in the list of countries with positive cryptocurrency regulations.

Blockchain News 18 January 2018