This week in crypto

2020 appears to be getting a start as the cryptocurrency regulation year. Across the globe, countries are beginning to take a much closer look at how to govern the Bitcoin industry, and this is only the second month of the year. What lies ahead will most certainly be more scrutiny and improved guidance as digital currencies continue to mature. 

Belgium and Switzerland are two countries that are planning to introduce much more stringent regulations on crypto. The regulator of Belgium’s financial markets is turning to the government to request that it develop a legal framework for digital assets, while Switzerland is becoming much stricter with crypto transactions. 

They’re not the only two, though. In the U.S., the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is giving crypto companies an ultimatum – work within the confines of financial regulations or face the government agency’s wrath. The threat is backed up by some of the country’s leading officials, including Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, who are fully behind any effort to improve how the Bitcoin space operates. 

While these countries are taking a more stringent approach to how crypto works, Ukraine is helping foster at least one aspect of the industry. The country is keeping tabs on how crypto businesses conduct their operations to ensure they don’t cross any legal limits, but is not going to interfere, within reason, with mining activity. This, asserts the government, is going to help the country improve its domestic economy and attract new businesses. 

Bitmain announced earlier this year that it would be letting go of around half of its workforce, mainly from research and development. Some might argue that this is where the company needs the most help, but a new report this week that Bitmain’s production capacity has dropped considerably seems to indicate that improving its products is no longer necessary. 

Thanks, in part, to Facebook’s Libra stablecoin, many countries began to wonder if a central bank digital currency (CBDC) is warranted. Certain countries had already started testing the waters with their own state-back crypto, but the activity has picked up a lot of steam on the international stage since Libra was first thrown out to the world. China and many others are working on their own CBDC, and it now seems that Japan could be looking to introduce its digital yen well ahead of any previous schedule. The country’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party supports the idea, and something could come about “within two to three years.”

German banks are swiftly becoming interested in crypto. After the European Union recently updated its financial crimes laws, 40 banks in the country have now stepped forward to receive approval to offer custody services for digital assets. Many may have been exploring the options prior to the new regulations, but they will now be doing so with oversight by Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority.

Law enforcement in India has taken down a drug dealer who was working in the shadows. Dipu Singh was selling drugs all over the world through two darknet sites, accepting only crypto for payments. He is reportedly the first darknet drug dealer to be busted in the country. 

Larry Dean Harmon is in a lot of trouble for his Helix enterprise that was previously found on several darknet sites. Federal prosecutors in the U.S. have busted the Ohio native for his misguided entrepreneurial spirit after having allegedly laundered more than $300 million on AlphaBay, and possibly more on other underground sites, before closing down in 2017. He’s not going to be happy once the final verdict is handed down and most likely won’t be getting out of jail for a very long time. 

Danny Trejo, the Hollywood star who has been seen in a multitude of blockbuster films, is now part of the Bitcoin SV (BSV) community. Trejo announced this week that he not only has a new Twetch channel, but that he also has his very own Money Button wallet. Expect to see a lot more of Machete on the blockchain-based social media application. 

New to blockchain? Check out CoinGeek’s Blockchain for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about blockchain technology.