Current State of The Crypto Market (November 17th, 2019)

Hackers:  John McAfee said that it is not the responsibility of cryptocurrency firms to help prevent crypto use in crime. McAfee delivered his remarks in a recent interview.  McAfee argued that authorities should not require cryptocurrency companies and trading platforms to help them control digital currency use in illicit activities. McAfee said he hopes that the “societal impact of giving people freedom from an overburden and corrupted government” prevails over “what small part criminals are going to play in this technology.” He added:  “You can’t put that responsibility on me as an entrepreneur. You can’t require me to assist you in preventing what might be a future crime.”  As reported last August, the United States Financial Crimes Enforcement Network revealed that the agency had seen a surge in filings of crypto-related Suspicious Activity Reports, the number of which exceeded 1,500 per month at the time.

Key Players:  US Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang has outlined how he plans to regulate the cryptocurrency industry.  On Nov. 14, Yang, an entrepreneur, lawyer, philanthropist and a Democratic candidate in the 2020 United States presidential election, wrote in a Nov. 14 blog post on the tech industry that cryptocurrencies experience the levels of fraud that they do because of lack of adequate regulations. He said:  “Other countries, which are ahead of us on regulation, are leading in this new marketplace and dictating the rules that we’ll need to follow once we catch up.”  Yang explained that cryptocurrencies and digital assets already compose a great deal of economic activity. The governmental response has lagged. “A national framework for regulating these assets has failed to emerge, with several federal agencies claiming conflicting jurisdictions,” he said.  In his broader plan to regulate the tech industry and protect U.S. citizens from big tech companies “that are prioritizing profits over our well-being,” Yang promises to promote legislation on the crypto asset market space by defining what a token is, when a token is a security, and clarify the tax implications of owning, selling, and trading digital assets, among others.

Banks & Institutions:  There’s a way cryptocurrency businesses can get around New York’s notoriously hard-to-get BitLicense, and it runs through Wyoming.  At least, so say members of the team that drafted the 13 crypto-friendly laws enacted by the Western state this year. One of those laws allows Wyoming to charter Special Purpose Depository Institutions, a new type of fully-reserved fiat bank that can also custody crypto assets.  With an SPDI, crypto exchanges and other startups could operate in New York without going through the state’s licensing rigmarole, under the same legal principles that exempt banks from needing state money transmitter licenses, Wyoming advocates said.  “We are fairly confident that the Wyoming SPDI will be able to operate in New York without a BitLicense,” Chris Land, general counsel of the Wyoming Division of Banking, said Tuesday at an event in NYC.  The New York Department of Financial Services, which created the BitLicense in 2014, did not answer requests for comment by press time.  The BitLicense was one of the earliest regulations specially crafted for the blockchain industry. But many firms have complained that it is onerous and has driven entrepreneurs and innovators away from New York, the U.S. financial capital.

Adoption: Swiss-based email service, ProtonMail, has revealed on Nov. 16 that it hasn’t cashed in any of the Bitcoin it has accepted as payment for its premium service in years.   The tweet was in response to a customer who complained that he felt guilty for spending Bitcoin ion a ProtonMail invoice instead of holding or “hodling” it for the long-term.  The exchange replied to the tweet “No worries, we will HODL for you.”  While the option to pay for a premium ProtonMail account in BTC is not obvious for new account holders, it is possible for existing email customers, even those using the free option who wish to upgrade.  ProtonMail also accepts Bitcoin donations and has thus far seen over 200 BTC — or almost $2 million at today’s prices — go into its wallet. The service also considered launching an ICO back in July 2018, thought these plans were seemingly shelved.