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Vitalik Buterin To Advise New ‘Ethereum Community Fund’ Sponsoring ETH Infrastructure

NEWS

Several large Ethereum-based projects have come together to create the Ethereum Community Fund (EFC), a vehicle to connect and fund the growth of Ethereum (ETH) infrastructure, according to the EFC website.

The founding members of the EFC are OmiseGo, Cosmos, Golem, Maker, Global Brain Blockchain Labs, and Raiden.

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum Foundation executive director Ayako Miyaguchi, and OmiseGo managing director Vansa Chatikavanij will join the project as advisors, according to Jun Hasegawa’s, the founder of OmiseGO, announcement on Medium.

The beginning basis of the EFC is the Infrastructure Grant program, which the website describes as a

“Permanent financial endowment to support and aid projects in building crucial open-source infrastructure, tooling, and applications.”

Jun Hasegawa tweeted at the participating members of the fund yesterday in celebration:

@jaekwon @julianzawist @heikohees @RuneKek Happy to working with you guys !! 😉 Exciting moment has been started with #ECF (Ethereum Community Fund) . Happy to having @VitalikButerin @mi_ayako@vchatBKKas advisors too 😉
More details following. Inquiry
https://ecf.network

  • 271UNICEF Asks PC Gamers To Mine Ethereum And Donate To Syrian Children

NEWS

UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) has started a new kind of charity drive for Syrian children, asking PC gamers to use their computers to mine Ethereum and donate their earnings.

The two-month long charity campaign that began Feb. 2, dubbed Game Chaingers, is aimed at gamers that use high level graphics cards capable of cryptocurrency mining, turning the cards into “humanitarian tool[s]:”

“Today, humanitarian collections often solicit the same people with the same methods, but cryptocurrencies and their revolutionary approach are an opportunity to raise funds differently. Have you heard of Bitcoin? The Ethereum is the same, except that you can more easily ‘mine’ the Ethereum coins via your computer and that money will go directly into the UNICEF wallet.”

Donations work in the following way: when participating gamers take a break from their computers or go to sleep, they can turn on UNICEF’s Ethereum mining program, thus donating without giving away anything but access to their computer’s processing power.

The website reads:

“Through the use of mining we create an opportunity for those who can not give or have never had the opportunity to do so.”

Game Chaingers’s statistics currently shows a total of 360 contributors, 44 of which are currently active at press time, that have mined almost 900 euros in donations for humanitarian aid for Syrian children.

According to the website’s project info, 8.3 mln children in Syria and bordering countries are in need of vital emergency help. UNICEF will use the donated Ethereum to give these children access to water, education, and health and hygiene services.

This isn’t the first time that UNICEF has thought to mix cryptocurrencies and humanitarian aid.

In January 2017, UNICEF presented “Donercoin” at London Blockchain Week, a Blockchain-based program aimed at creating transparency in global aid by digitizing donations.

More recently, in August 2017, UNICEF Ventures, a branch of the main organization, began testing Ethereum-based smart contracts also to improve the transparency of asset transfers.

Pineapple Fund, a Bitcoin-only charity founded by an anonymous donor, has also made large donations in Bitcoin to a number of philanthropic organizations in the past few months. According to their website, the Fund plans to give out a total of $86 mln to charity.

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Why Would South Korea Plan to Legalize ICOs Again?

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Last week, The Korea Times, a mainstream media founded by the country’s largest newspaper Hankook Ilbo, reported that sources within the government revealed the plans of local financial authorities to legalize initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the future.

“The financial authorities have been talking to the country’s tax agency, justice ministry and other relevant government offices about a plan to allow ICOs in Korea when certain conditions are met,” an unnamed source told The Korea Times who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the subject.

Concerns regarding investor protection

Most recently, Choi Jong-ku Financial Services Commission (FSC) chairman expressed his concerns towards domestic ICOs, citing high risks involved for investors within the cryptocurrency market.

In a conference held at the Seoul Government Office, FSC chairman Choi stated that the agency still remains skeptical towards the investor protection policies in place. Choi’s statement translated by Cointelegraph read:

“There is a possibility that during the creation and issuance of a new digital currency through an ICO, various Ponzi schemes and scam operations may emerge. The agency will remain its negative stance towards the investor protection policies currently imposed on the local cryptocurrency market.”

Still, despite the concerns over investor protection by the FSC, several sources within the government told The Korea Times that local financial authorities are attempting to authorize domestic ICOs by enabling strict Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) systems, as well as a taxation policy for investors.

US SEC and South Korea on the same page

In essence, the South Korean government is willing to allow companies to conduct ICOs as long as the token sales are registered with the government, which is similar to the viewpoint of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

In December 2017, the US SEC stated that while private ICOs can be conducted within the US targeting local investors, they must be registered with the SEC. As of December, the SEC stated that there were no ICOs registered with the agency and that no ICOs are allowed to accommodate US-based investors.

“A number of concerns have been raised regarding the cryptocurrency and ICO markets, including that, as they are currently operating, there is substantially less investor protection than in our traditional securities markets, with correspondingly greater opportunities for fraud and manipulation. Investors should understand that to date no initial coin offerings have been registered with the SEC. The SEC also has not to date approved for listing and trading any exchange-traded products (such as ETFs) holding cryptocurrencies or other assets related to cryptocurrencies,” the SEC said.

However, the SEC has not completely ruled out ICOs. Its chairman Jay Clayton stated in a cryptocurrency hearing that every ICO is a security because the value of tokens is directly affected by the performance of the businesses distributing them, as Cointelegraph previously reported.

Currently, the South Korean government is on a similar page with the US SEC, in that it is willing to allow ICOs that are registered with local financial authorities and are conducted transparently. Another unnamed source within the government told The Korea Times:

“Various scenarios such as the imposition of a value-added tax, a capital gains tax, or both on trade; and the collection of corporate tax from local cryptocurrency exchanges, as well as the initiation of authorized exchanges with licenses are being discussed.”

FSC cryptocurrency trading policies director Kang Young-soo confirmed that there are speculations about the potential legalization of ICOs, as he said:

“There are many speculating about the possibility of allowing ICOs. The FSC has acknowledged a third-party view regarding the issue, but there’s nothing that we can say officially at the moment.”

Reasons behind ICO legalization

On March 5, several mainstream media outlets in South Korea including Asia Business and Huffington Post Korea revealed that Kakao, the country’s largest Internet conglomerate which oversees KakaoTalk, KakaoPay, KakaoStory and KakaoTaxi, applications that have over 90 percent market penetration in their respective markets including fintech, taxi service, messaging, and social media, is focusing on integrating cryptocurrencies for its 12,000 merchants and over 100 mln users.

Kakao is reportedly planning to integrate cryptocurrencies on all of its applications, which would allow users to utilize KakaoPay to send and receive cryptocurrencies while paying for services on platforms like KakaoTaxi. Kakao also revealed its plans to conduct an ICO and to release its own token.

But, Asia Business reported that due to the current regulations on domestic ICOs, Kakao is planning to conduct its ICO outside of South Korea, to circumvent local policies.

If Kakao decides to conduct its ICO elsewhere and moves its Blockchain business outside of the country, it may lead to a substantial loss for the South Korean economy, especially in the Blockchain sector. It could lead to a domino effect, convincing other businesses and startups targeting the Blockchain sector to move outside of South Korea.

Almost immediately after reports around Kakao’s plans to launch an ICO outside of the country were released, FSC chairman Choi stated that the ICO of Kakao may violate existing regulations established by the local government.

“Even if there is no prohibition on cryptocurrency or digital asset trading, there is a possibility that it [Kakao ICO] may be regarded as fraud or multi-level sales according to the issuance method. Since the risk is very high in terms of investor protection, the government has a negative stance on the ICO.”

It is entirely likely that the South Korean government is moving towards legalizing ICOs to prevent the country’s leading conglomerates from leaving South Korea to conduct ICOs, which may damage the local Blockchain sector and cryptocurrency industry.

Stellar’s McCaleb: Blockchain Could Power ‘Universal Payments Network’ By 2028

NEWS

Stellar CTO and co-founder, as well as Mt. Gox creator, Jed McCaleb told CNBCMarch 21 about his vision for a singular global payments system — one that will crucially involve Blockchain technology.

Stellar, which like Ripple is a Blockchain-powered international remittance setup with its own cryptocurrency, is currently attempting to create such a network.

“In the future, I think it’s pretty clear to me there will be a universal payments network that will operate,” McCaleb said.

While the solution he sees might not necessarily have Bitcoin or Ethereum at its heart, it would involve a “public ledger that people can see and can’t change arbitrarily.”

A halfway house situation may evolve, facilitating continued use of fiat currencies via Blockchain, letting people “use things they’re used to, like dollars and euros,” he adds.

McCaleb’s comments come as more and more legacy financial institutions reveal they are considering both Stellar and Ripple as a major shake-up of their remittance models. Ripple is currently due to be implemented on a commercial basis by South Korean Woori Bank later this year.

In future, it may not just be payments, but traditional assets such as stocks that go digital using Blockchain tech, McCaleb meanwhile said, the change potentially occurring before 2028:

“In the next 10 years I wouldn’t be surprised if all equity isn’t tokenized on some blockchain somewhere.”

Today, March 21, Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey went further than McCaleb in terms of specificity, making his own prediction for the future of Blockchain and crypto. Dorsey said he sees Bitcoin in particular becoming the world’s “singular” currency within the same timeframe.

South Korea Financial Regulator Says Fintech Will ‘Solve The Youth Job Problem’

NEWS

South Korea’s Financial Services Commission (FSC) has announced that they will use Blockchain technologies for future fintech innovation by focusing on supporting new technologies as opposed to regulating them, local news outlet Korea JoongAng Daily reports today, March 21.

Choi Jong-ku, the chairman of the FSC, said in relation to the impetus for the FSC announcement that “the players in the financial service market are becoming more diverse, with new companies entering, and the competition in the financial market is becoming fiercer. As a result, existing financial companies are also making attempts with fintech to raise their services.”

Jong-ku added that he sees the advantages for young people in a more contemporary fintech market:

“Fintech is an area that requires new technologies, and it will solve the youth job problem by increasing job positions for young people.”

The FSC hopes that the reported “regulatory rollbacks” will allow businesses to create more jobs and lower service charges, giving examples of fintech business improvements like offering customers the opportunity to buy investments over video chat and using crowdfunding for small businesses.

According to Korea JoongAng Daily, the FSC will also approve an app-to-app payment system which allows customers to buy products without using credit card companies or networks, although banks will still add charges for the transactions. Korea JoongAng Daily lists fintech company Toss and online banks K Bank and Kakao as already having begun testing app-to-app payment technologies.

South Korea, believed to be one of the world’s largest crypto markets, has began regulating cryptocurrency in the country more strongly. In January 2018, the government banned anonymous trading on crypto exchanges. The government responded to a public anti-crypto regulation petition in mid-February, underlining that there is no planned crypto ban in the country but that regulations are in place to prevent “any illegal acts or uncertainties.”

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