The Federal Reserve, the U.S.’ central bank, published a proposed rule change Friday asking about the recording requirements for money transfers involving virtual currencies.
According to the rule change proposal, the Fed and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network propose modifying the thresholds at which banks must collect and store fund transfer information, reducing it from $3,000 to $250 for any transfers that go outside the U.S. The proposal would also widen the agencies’ definition of “money” to explicitly include cryptocurrencies.
The Fed is seeking public comment, due within 30 days of the proposal being published in the Federal Register, the formal logbook for the U.S. government. Individuals can provide feedback online or via email.
According to the proposal, since the recordkeeping and travel rules were first introduced by the agencies, convertible virtual currencies (or CVC, an umbrella term that includes cryptocurrencies) have been introduced to the world. While they lack legal tender status, they can still be used to conduct value transfers.
“Generally, CVCs can be exchanged instantaneously anywhere in the world through peer-to-peer payment systems (a distributed ledger) that allow any two parties to transact directly with each other without the need for an intermediary financial institution,” the document said. “However, in practice, many persons hold and transmit CVC using a third-party financial institution such as a ‘hosted wallet’ or an exchange.”
The document pointed to illicit transactions conducted using cryptocurrencies, such as North Korean hacking team Lazarus Group’s efforts to steal crypto, as examples of poor behavior using these new tools.
Recently, a large number of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs), which banks file to report potentially illegal or suspicious financial transactions, were leaked, revealing that while the federal agency might store this data for years or decades, it doesn’t always take action against banks or entities that might be violating U.S. law.
Bitcoin Breaks $19K, New All-Time High Seems Imminent
Bitcoin (BTC) passed above $19,000 on Tuesday, after rallying $7,000 in one month. The leading cryptocurrency is now within sight of its all-time high of $19,783 reached on Dec. 17, 2017.
The price of bitcoin (BTC, +3.49%) was $19,001 at press time, representing a 2% gain in the past 24 hours, according to the CoinDesk 20 index.
This took place after the bitcoin price broke the $17,000 level and then $18,000 level within the same week.
On Friday, the world’s largest asset manager BlackRock’s chief investment officer, Rick Rieder, said on CNBC that bitcoin could take the place of gold to a large extent because crypto is “so much more functional than passing a bar of gold around.”
The market capitalization of bitcoin also hit its all time high this week to about $329 billion, according to data provided by crypto analytic firm CryptoQuant.
According to Guy Hirsch, managing director for US at eToro, 2020’s bull market “debunks” the idea that bitcoin is a “Tulip Bubble” because “tulips never had a second wave of buying the same way bitcoin has.”
With retail on-ramp platforms including PayPal and CashApp being more prevalent in 2020 than 2017, bitcoin’s price could break $20,000 “in the not-too-distant” future, Hirsch added, predicting that the retail investors will kick in the market and propel the price.
All but two of the other coins from the CoinDesk 20 including ether and XRP (XRP, +35.13%) have also been in green in the past 24 hours.
With increased institutional investors entering the bitcoin market, as well as miners not liquidating their positions, “it appears likely that price will continue to rise,” according to a newsletter by CryptoQuant on Nov. 13.
Number of Bitcoin ATMs Up 85% As Coronavirus Drives Adoption
The number of bitcoin automated teller machines (ATMs) across the globe has surged this year amid the coronavirus-induced shift toward contactless payments.
Bitcoin ATM installations have increased by 85% to 11,798, outpacing the previous year’s near 50% rise by a significant margin, according to data source Coin ATM Radar.
The spike demonstrates the rising popularity of bitcoin as a payment mode. The fear of getting a coronavirus infection has accelerated the growth in the broader contactless payment market this year, according to Global Trade Magazine.
Bitcoin’s borderless network facilitates a seamless transfer of money in any amount from anywhere across the globe, through any mobile or computer, and at relatively lower fees than traditional banking channels.
A bitcoin ATM allows a person to purchase the cryptocurrency by using cash or debit card. Some machines facilitate the purchase of bitcoin and the sale of cryptocurrency for cash.
The U.S. added over 800 ATMs in October alone and is leading cryptocurrency adoption, followed by Canada and Germany, as noted by Coin ATM Radar.
With several public companies investing in bitcoin and online payments giant PayPal adding support to the cryptocurrency, mainstream adoption could continue to grow.
Mastercard President Banks On CBDCs For Crypto Patents Pay Off
Mastercard President Michael Miebach said the payments processor’s massive trove of cryptocurrency patents will give it an edge once central bank digital currencies (CBDC) debut.
Mastercard’s cryptocurrency intellectual property “puts us in a good position” for a CBDC future, Miebach told analysts during the firm’s Oct. 28 Q3 earnings call.
“The link into an acceptance network is critical” for a CBDC, he said. “So we hold some patents in [the crypto] space that link these transactions right back into our network where it can be used. And this is how we can bring value, and it brings value to us.”
Miebach further asserted Mastercard is “the leading payments player” for crypto IP. That may be true for now, but perhaps not for long. Ant Group affiliate Alibaba is on track to hold an unprecedented number of blockchain patents by the end of the year.
A company spokesperson did not immediately answer questions regarding the size of Mastercard’s crypto IP trove. Miebach said Mastercard is talking with world governments on their plans for a CBDC. Miebach is slated to become Mastercard’s chief executive in early 2021.
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