The cryptocurrency business is thriving, but many things are happening, including, SOL is not a Security, says the Solana Foundation, Russia’s biggest bank to allow crypto trading this summer, the EU to use blockchain for educational and professional credential verification, and much more!
In this issue:
- SOL is not a Security, says the Solana Foundation.
- Russia’s biggest bank to allow crypto trading this summer.
- EU’s crypto licensing rules take effect with MiCA law publication.
- Alibaba’s E-commerce platform AliExpress to launch NFTs for outside China sales.
- EU to use blockchain for educational and professional credential verification.
- UK FCA proposes a ban on crypto incentives in strict new marketing rules.
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SOL is not a Security, says the Solana Foundation.
The Solana Foundation took to Twitter to address for the first time the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s classification of its native token, Solana (SOL), as security.
“The Solana Foundation disagrees with the characterization of SOL as a security,” reads a statement from June 10, noting that it welcomes the engagement of policymakers to achieve legal clarity in the digital assets space.
Solana’s native and utility token was publicly launched in March 2020. SOL holders stake the token to validate transactions through its consensus mechanism. The token can also be used to receive rewards, pay transaction fees, and enable users to participate in governance.
The SEC has labeled the SOL token as security in two separate lawsuits filed on June 5 and June 6 against crypto exchanges Binance and Coinbase, respectively. The classification is based on several factors, including the expectation of profits derived from the efforts of others, as well as how the tokens are being used and marketed.
Along with SOL, the SEC listed other nine cryptocurrencies to the securities’ classification on Binance’s lawsuit: BNB (BNB), Binance USD (BUSD), Solana, Cardano (ADA), Polygon (MATIC), Cosmos (ATOM), The Sandbox (SAND), Decentraland (MANA), Axie Infinity (AXS) and COTI (COTI). In its Coinbase suit, the SEC named 13 cryptocurrencies, doubling down on the newly classified tokens and adding six more: Chiliz (CHZ), Flow (FLOW), Internet Computer (ICP), Near (NEAR), Voyager Token (VGX) and Nexo (NEXO).
According to the SEC, the term “security” includes an “investment contract,” as well as other instruments such as stocks, bonds, and transferable shares. “A digital asset should be analyzed to determine whether it has the characteristics of any product that meets the definition of “security” under the federal securities laws,” the regulator states in its guidance for analyzing digital assets as investment contracts.
In an opinion piece about the recent developments, legal expert and Bloomberg’s contributor Matt Levine noted that previous securities offers of SOL should not make the token a security now. “The fact that those tokens now trade publicly, with less disclosure and fewer investor safeguards than the SEC would like, is, from the SEC’s perspective, unfortunate. But it’s not exactly Solana’s fault, or rather it is Solana’s fault but in a perfectly legal way,” he stated.
Russia’s biggest bank to allow crypto trading this summer.
The largest banking institution in Russia by assets value Sberbank will reportedly enable private investors to buy and sell digital currencies in the following weeks.
The entity jumped on the bandwagon a few years ago, attempting to launch several cryptocurrency projects. For one, it sought approval to issue its digital currency and introduced the first blockchain-focused ETF in Russia.
As reported by a local media outlet, the bank will let customers make transactions with digital financial assets (DFA) on the Sberbank platform as early as June. The news was confirmed by Anatoly Popov – Deputy Chairman of the board who told TASS:
“If we talk about individuals, then in the second quarter, we believe, in June, this function will open for individuals. Individuals will have the opportunity to buy digital financial assets and sell them. Accordingly, exchange them for cash.”
It is worth noting that the bank prepared a special scoring (assessment system) for its customers before releasing the option. The move ensures that users consciously make an investment decision, understanding the existing risks.
Unlike the hostile stance shown by the Central Bank of the Russian Federation toward the cryptocurrency sector, Sberbank sought approval to launch its digital asset and to register a blockchain platform in 2021. Sberbank reached a significant milestone a few months later, creating a blockchain exchange-traded fund (ETF) that tracks leading cryptocurrency companies, including Galaxy Digital, Coinbase, and Diginex. This was the first such product in Russia that enabled domestic investors to deal with the industry without having to buy, sell, or hold tokens.
EU’s crypto licensing rules take effect with MiCA law publication.
The European Union’s Markets in Crypto Assets law (MiCA) has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), signaling the start of implementing comprehensive crypto licensing rules. The law mandates that crypto wallet providers identify their customers during fund transfers and offers a license for crypto companies to operate across the EU. It also introduces new governance and financial requirements for stablecoin issuers.
The publication of the over 200-page law marks its formal passage into the EU’s statute book. It will come into force in 20 days, with its provisions applying on December 30, 2024. However, certain provisions will take effect on June 30, 2024.
Implementing the MiCA law comes at a time of significant uncertainty for crypto operators in the United States. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed lawsuits against Binance and Coinbase, alleging that they offered unregistered securities. This contrasts with the EU’s proactive approach to establishing comprehensive crypto regulations through MiCA.
The publication of the MiCA law in the Official Journal marks a significant milestone in the EU’s journey toward regulating the crypto industry. The law provides clear guidelines for crypto wallet providers, crypto companies, and stablecoin issuers, ensuring transparency and financial compliance within the European market.
Alibaba’s E-commerce platform AliExpress to launch NFTs for outside China sales.
AliExpress, the global online retail platform of China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, will launch 5,555 NFTs on June 25, in partnership with the NFT project “the Moment3!”.
The partnership was first announced on AliExpress’ official Twitter account on Thursday. The post was later removed by AliExpress, but can still be seen on the Twitter page of its partner “the Moment3!.
The Moment3! is an NFT project that plans to connect with real-world businesses and grant NFT owners benefits and exclusive rights beyond mere collectible values, according to the Discord channel of the project.
The planned NFT launch is not AliExpress’ first step into the crypto space. On May 4, AliExpress was integrated into Shopping.io, a platform that allows users to pay for their purchases in major e-commerce stores with cryptocurrencies. AliExpress now accepts multiple cryptocurrencies as payments and added memecoin Floki to the list on May 31.
AliExpress is a global e-commerce platform owned by Alibaba Group. Although the company is headquartered in China, it does not sell to customers in mainland China.
The Chinese government banned all cryptocurrency transactions in September 2021 and has issued multiple warnings on the risks of NFT speculation.
EU to use blockchain for educational and professional credential verification.
The European Commission has moved to implement educational and professional credentials that will be verified across borders.
In an announcement on June 7, the Web3 and blockchain solutions provider, Protokol, revealed a collaboration with EBSI Vector, a European Union-funded project creating a decentralized framework for cross-border verification.
The project will use blockchain technology to develop the forthcoming credential verification solution, which aims to simplify the process for EU citizens to have their credentials recognized and accepted in different countries.
Protokol CEO Lars Rensing said the goal is to create a more open, secure, and decentralized digital infrastructure for the EU and beyond. EU citizens will be issued a digital wallet created by Protokol to store and use their digital credentials.
According to the announcement, the project will ultimately incorporate other EU initiatives, such as “EUeID,” for further solutions to create smoother interactions between people and organizations.
This work with Protokol is part of a larger project creating an interoperable framework for EU-wide blockchain-based services called the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI) initiative.
EU leaders have been proactive in welcoming and regulating emerging Web3 technologies. On May 31, regulators signed the Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) bill into law.
Mica was first introduced in 2020 and has since been a major topic of discussion in the industry. The bill’s main aim is to create a consistent regulatory framework for crypto assets for EU member states. Companies in the space have been eyeing the final call on the regulation. The blockchain technology platform Bakkt said it’s looking toward the EU post-MiCA.
UK FCA proposes a ban on crypto incentives in strict new marketing rules.
The U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is set to put in place strict new rules for crypto advertising as soon as planned laws for the industry are finalized, according to documents published Thursday.
Under the new rules, crypto will be classified as “restricted mass market investments,” which will require any advertisements or promotions to contain “clear risk warnings,” and bans incentives to invest such as “refer a friend” or “new joiner bonuses,” the regulator said.
Crypto is set to be included in the scope of the U.K.’s regulated financial activities through the Financial Services and Markets Bill, which represents the country’s post-Brexit financial strategy and is currently moving through Parliament. With the bill, the FCA gets powers to set rules for the sector by the applicable laws.
When the FCA consulted on these rules last year, respondents largely disagreed with the proposals including the regulator’s intention to treat crypto as a high-risk investment and to block new investors from receiving non-real-time promotion offers (DOFP), the report said. The FCA will proceed with these measures nonetheless, it added. Alongside the upcoming rules, the FCA also opened for public comment new guidance aimed at ensuring “firms clearly understand the implications of this requirement for crypto asset promotions,” the document said. The proposed guidance says crypto firms should carry out “adequate due diligence and have sufficient evidence of the underlying crypto asset to ensure the financial promotion is fair, clear, and not misleading.”
For those communicating promotions for stablecoin firms, they will have to ensure that claims regarding stability or links to a fiat currency are not misleading. It also set out a range of other measures.
The new rules on promotions have been put forward because estimated crypto ownership in the U.K. doubled from 2021 to 2022 with 10% of 2,000 people surveyed by the regulator stating that they own crypto, according to a separate report published by the FCA.
The FCA also set out this strategy as part of its commitment to reduce and prevent serious harm, a press release said. “It is up to people to decide whether they buy crypto. But research shows many regret making a hasty decision,” Sheldon Mills, executive director of consumers and competition at the FCA said in a press release. “Our rules give people the time and the right risk warnings to make an informed choice.”
If firms breach the FCA’s upcoming promotion rules they could face up to two years of imprisonment, a fine, or both.
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