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  1. NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. government will strictly enforce a rule that requires cryptocurrency firms engaged in money service businesses such as digital asset exchanges and wallet service providers to share information about their customers, Kenneth Blanco, director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), said on Friday . Part of anti-money laundering regulations, the “travel rule” requires cryptocurrency exchanges to verify their customers’ identities, identify the original parties and beneficiaries of transfers $3,000 or higher, and transmit that information to counterparties if they exist. “It (travel rule) applies to CVCs (convertible virtual currencies) and we expect that you will comply period,” Blanco said at a conference hosted by Chainalysis, a New York-based blockchain analysis company. “That’s what our expectation is. You will comply. I don’t know what the shock is. This is nothing new,” he added. The U.S. government’s moves came as cryptocurrency crime soared into the billions of dollars, with global investigators grappling with major money laundering hubs that are at the center of the virtual worlds. Ciphertrace, in a recent report released in August, said cryptocurrency thefts, scams, and fraud may exceed more than $4.3 billion this year. The travel rule was first issued by FinCEN in 1996 as part of anti-money laundering standards that applies to all U.S. financial institutions. FinCEN expanded the rule’s coverage in March 2013 to apply to crypto exchanges as well, and in May this year, the Treasury unit affirmed that guidance. The government’s action comes on the heels of guidelines released in June by the U.S. Treasury led-Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental global organization devoted to battling money laundering and terrorism financing. FATF likewise directed crypto exchanges and regulators around the world to comply with the travel rule, giving them about year to do it from June this year. “FinCEN...has been conducting examinations that include compliance with the funds’ travel rule since 2014,” Blanco said, adding that it is the most commonly cited violation with regard to money service businesses engaged in virtual currencies. FinCEN’s May guidance on the travel rule created confusion within the crypto industry, which believes the rule didn’t apply to them. In an earlier interview, Dave Jevans, chief executive officer of U.S. blockchain forensics company CipherTrace, said people in the crypto industry were surprised at FinCEN’s recent actions because digital currencies have never been classified as money and the belief was that the travel rule does not apply to them. Source
  2. You won't be able to buy Bitcoin with your Apple Card, and you'd better not hack the iPhone associated with your account. Like US banking giants and credit-card issuers Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase & Co. before it, Apple won't let people use its card to buy cryptocurrencies. "You may not use or permit your account to be used for ... cash advances or cash equivalents," reads the Apple Card Customer Agreement posted Friday on the website of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Apple's partner in the Apple Card venture. The agreement says cash equivalents include things like travelers checks, money orders, lottery tickets, casino gaming chips and cryptocurrency. Reuters notes that Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase nixed such purchases because they were worried volatile prices for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin could leave consumers with debt they couldn't repay.. 9to5Mac points out another detail from the agreement: Apple Card holders can't use their accounts in connection with an iPhone that's been hacked or modified through jailbreaking. "If you make unauthorized modifications to your Eligible Device, such as by disabling hardware or software controls (for example, through a process sometimes referred to as "jailbreaking"), your Eligible Device may no longer be eligible to access or manage your Account," the agreement says. Apple will begin offering the Apple Card to users this month, CEO Tim Cook said during the company's fiscal third-quarter earnings call Tuesday. First announced during Apple's March software and services event, Apple Card will be Apple's entrance into the payments arena. The iPhone-maker has teamed with Goldman Sachs and Mastercard for the card, which will be available as a digital card in the Wallet app for use with Apple Pay. A physical titanium card will also be available for use in places that don't yet accept mobile payments. Source
  3. LONDON (Reuters) - Bitcoin slumped more than 10% over the weekend to a two-week low as fears of a crackdown of cryptocurrencies grew on mounting scrutiny of Facebook’s planned Libra digital coin. Bitcoin fell 11.1% from Friday to $9,855 early on Monday, its lowest since July 2. The original cryptocurrency slumped 10.4% on Sunday alone, its second-biggest daily drop this year. It was last up 1.3% at $10,319. Politicians and financial regulators across the world have called for close scrutiny of Facebook’s Libra coin, with concerns ranging from consumer protection and privacy to its potential systemic risks given the social media giant’s global reach. In a sign of widening U.S. attention, a proposal to prevent big technology companies from functioning as financial institutions or issuing digital currencies has been circulated for discussion by Democratic lawmakers, according to a copy of the draft legislation seen by Reuters. U.S. President Donald Trump had last week criticized bitcoin, Libra and other cryptocurrencies, demanding that firms seek a banking charter and subject themselves to U.S. and global regulations if they wanted to “become a bank”. Bitcoin, which initially shrugged off Trump’s Tweet, fell sharply after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell called for a halt to Facebook’s project until concerns from privacy to money-laundering were addressed. “Together they have increased the tail risk that the U.S. will look to crack down on it in some way,” said Jamie Farquhar, portfolio manager at crypto firm NKB Group in London. Underscoring the growing attention on Facebook’s plans, Japanese authorities have also set up a working group to look at Libra’s possible impact on monetary policy and financial regulation, government sources told Reuters. European Central Bank policymaker Benoit Coeure is due to deliver a preliminary report on the matter at a meeting of G7 finance ministers this week in Chantilly, north of Paris. Bitcoin climbed nearly 55% in nine days after Facebook unveiled its plans for Libra on June 18, touching an 18-month high of nearly $14,000. The project has boosted hopes among some investors that cryptocurrencies could gain wider acceptance. Source
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