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Daily Byte: 10.16.2018




Mumbai crypto scam case hits a wall, Coinbase preps for Brexit, and the Ethereum Foundation awards new development grants.

Here's what's happening for October 16, 2018:

Crypto Scam Case Hits Wall in Mumbai

The Indian Express reported that the Mumbai Police have reached a dead end in its investigation of ATC Coin for malicious practices. The coin was allegedly marketed as a high-return investment opportunity and that it could be used for online shopping.

The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police alleged that proceeds from the coin sale were used by ATC Coin founder, Subhashchand Jewria, to buy property after moving the money to personal accounts. Jewria and his brother were arrested by the EOW after searches of the brothers' offices and residences for cheating, criminal conspiracy, and criminal breach of trust.

One year later, however, and the EOW is unable to find any investors willing to testify against Jewria.

"Since the case deals with cryptocurrency and in the absence on proper law and regulation, investors are scared that if they come forward, they might face a lot of scrutiny," an EOW officer told reporters. "While we managed to trace a few of investors, they did not lodge any complaint. The case has been stuck since then."

This case was part of an effort to enforce the Reserve Bank of India's decision to ban banking institutions in the country from offering banking products to cryptocurrency businesses. The EOW accuses Jewria of raising 840,000,000 rupees (roughly $11.5 million) from his websites, where he asked invited investors to commit between 5,000 to 20,000 rupees to his crypto.

The failure of defrauded investors to come forward means that redistribution of recovered funds will be indefinitely postponed.

Coinbase Gets Serious About Brexit

The decision for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union is raising concerns for many who rely on the open trade and borders to maintain business, including, apparently, the San Francisco-based exchange Coinbase.

The Guardian has reported that Coinbase is opening new offices in Dublin, Ireland, as part of a contingency plan for Brexit. While Coinbase's London offices will remain, the exchange's European base of operations, Dublin – with its English-speaking population, heavy technology investment, and EU membership – will be the exchange's "fallback position."

As a cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase is not immediately affected by border changes, but the company is also a money transmitter and a regulated financial service provider. As such, Coinbase's status as a foreign-based entity could complicate its capability to operate in the EU.

However, positive development in crypto regulations in the UK could turn the nation into a cryptocurrency haven, particularly for non-money transmitting crypto companies. However, as reported in yesterday's Daily Byte, UK's thumb-twittering over crypto regulations may mean that the country will not have a clear crypto strategy before the Brexit deadline.

But wait, there's more!

Barclays Places Crypto Project "on Ice"

Per the London Financial News, investment bank Barclays has put its crypto trading project "on ice." The bank is apparently concerned about regulatory and compliance issues.

Earlier this year, the bank put together a team to try to incorporate cryptocurrencies into its business.  Among other things, the team was to determine if crypto is more than just a passing fad, if the bank's customers even care about crypto, and what infrastructure would be needed to offer crypto products.

Ultimately, though, the bank worried that if it were to offer cryptocurrency trading services, some people might exploit them for what Barclay's chief executive Jes Staley called "activities that the bank wants to have no part of."

The decision to hit the brakes follows news that Goldman Sachs has also delayed its plans to establish a crypto trading desk. 

Plattsburgh Imposes Local Regulations on Crypto

More on the "wait, it's not even Wednesday" front, Plattsburgh, New York – a small town in Clinton County that made headlines for enacting the "first bitcoin mining ban in the US" – has introduced regulations that would allow limited commercial crypto mining operations within city limits, according to the Sun Community News.

The new regulations apply to operations that use more than 300 kilowatts a month or have three or more mining rigs in a single location. The regulations also include measures to address fire safety and prevent noise pollution.

A public hearing on the new law is scheduled for October 25.

Proponents of the law say it is needed out of fairness, as the high demand on electricity affects other local ratepayers, and out of public safety. Local miners (the ban was on new mining operations, but miners who existed before the ban continue to operate) are claiming that the law is reactionary, based on a fear of the unknown.

Other communities, including Rouses Point, Lake Placid, and North Elba, have produced moratoria on crypto mining and are considering similar regulation. New York's Public Service Commission has allowed local communities to dictate tariffs on local electricity use for commercial mining operations.

In April, Chelan, Washington, emerged as one of the first non-New York communities to call for a halt of crypto mining.

Ethereum Foundation Awards Approximately $3 Million in Grants

The Ethereum Foundation has awarded 20 individuals and groups a total of approximately $3 million for work on client diversity, usability, scalability, security, and tool development. $500,000 was given to Status for research and development into its Ethereum 2.0 client, Nimbus. Nimbus is thought to be an effective client implementation for sharding and light client applications, identified by Vitalik Buterin as essential for the growth of the network.

Other big recipients include Prysmatic Labs, which also received $500,000 to build an Ethereum 2.0 client, and SpankChain, Kyokan, and Connext, who collectively received $420,000 to build a software development kit for a non-custodial payment hub.

The Ethereum grant program is intended to offer support in the development of the Ethereum blockchain in the form of developing decentralized applications and smart contract technology.

Be fast, be clever, be wise. Most importantly, be here tomorrow for your Daily Byte.

Frederick Reese

Frederick Reese is a politics and cryptocurrency reporter based in New York. He is also a former teacher, an early adopter of bitcoin and Litecoin, and an enthusiast of all things geeky and nerdy.

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