United States regulators including the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have ongoing civil cases against major cryptocurrency firms including Binance, Coinbase, and Ripple, but not every company has been subject to the same treatment.
Gary Gensler, serving as SEC chair since 2021, has been widely criticized by many lawmakers and industry leaders for a “regulation by enforcement” approach to crypto companies and offerings. Some of the cases have ended up in federal courtrooms to determine what may qualify as a security in the United States, and not all judges’ decisions have necessarily been favorable to the regulator.
The commission filed a lawsuit against Ripple in December 2020 over XRP as an allegedly unregistered offering, but received a partial summary judgment in July that the token was largely not a security. Coinbase, which seemed to expect legal action ahead of the SEC’s lawsuit filed in June, targeted the regulator in response to its case, claiming the exchange tried to “come in and register” without success or proper feedback.
Prometheum, a crypto firm which gained a lot of media attention in June following co-CEO Aaron Kaplan testifying before the House Financial Services Committee on digital asset regulation, received approval from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority as a special purpose broker-dealer (SPBD) for digital asset securities in May. Some of the firm’s subsidiaries, which also deal in digital assets, have successfully registered with the SEC.
“Prometheum was purpose-built to comply with federal securities laws and create the first digital asset security trading platform subject to those laws including investor protection rules,” Kaplan told Cointelegraph.
Kaplan’s approach would seem to suggest that certain firms like Coinbase, Binance, and Ripple launched services in the U.S. with the intention of trying to change existing regulations. Major players have sometimes lobbied for legislation favorable to crypto firms: Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong has been a regular presence in Washington DC and encouraged users to back political candidates in support of pro-crypto policies.
According to the Prometheum co-CEO, certain crypto companies “have been working to rewrite or amend existing laws in their favor and to the detriment of retail investors”, speculating that the current frameworks are incapable of dealing with digital assets. Many industry leaders and lawmakers have echoed similar concerns, claiming crypto firms in the U.S. have an uphill battle in recognizing what digital assets qualify as securities.
Four key proposed bills could redefine digital asset regulations. @Prometheum remains at the forefront with plans to offer regulated trading & custody of digital assets. Read more about the crypto bills at Cointelegraph: https://t.co/vxfdDSxPsu#DigitalAssets
— Prometheum (@PrometheumInc) July 25, 2023
Kaplan hinted the fact that Prometheum was able to obtain a SPBD license was evidence that regulatory compliance was at least possible. However, the approval has led to calls to investigate the firm by advocacy groups including the Blockchain Association and crypto-minded members of Congress.
“We are concerned that the [SEC] granted Prometheum a ‘sweetheart’ deal in exchange for support of the Commission’s policy goals, or that Prometheum is leveraging personal connections with the Commission to gain an unfair advantage in the market,” said the Blockchain Association in July. “Most significantly, we are concerned that Chair Gensler is using Prometheum and the SPBD licensure process as a means to thwart congressional efforts toward legislation by continuing to spread the false narrative that the law is already clear with regard to digital asset securities.”
“From the moment Prometheum received its SPBD license, there was a seemingly concerted effort by various industry associations and lawmakers to discredit the more than 6 years of hard work we have put in to build our company.”
It’s unclear if Prometheum’s approach will work for existing players in the space in an effort to sidestep enforcement actions, or for up-and-coming projects aware of the regulatory challenges in the United States. David Hirsch, head of the SEC’s crypto enforcement division, reportedly said at a Sept. 19 conference that though the commission was currently embroiled in several civil lawsuits, it would continue to bring actions against firms it saw as violating U.S. securities laws — including decentralized finance projects.
Gensler will be testifying before the U.S. House Financial Services Committee on Sept. 27 in a hearing on SEC oversight. According to a Sept. 22 memo, lawmakers will question the SEC chair on matters including policies on digital asset custodial activities and expansion of the commission’s authority over crypto firms.
Expect ‘records broken’ by Bitcoin ETF: Brett Harrison (ex-FTX US), X Hall of Flame
The former president of FTX US dishes the dirt on his falling out with former Jane Street colleague Sam Bankman-Fried and predicts the spot Bitcoin ETF will far outshine the record-breaking success of the Bitcoin Futures ETF.
Who is this guy anyway?
The ex-president of FTX US, Brett Harrison, tells Magazine that he didn’t say a single word to Sam Bankman-Fried during the two-month notice period after he resigned, which was only months before the whole exchange blew up. Even getting a message to SBF to say he was resigning in the first place was hard work.
“I had to talk to other people in the company to formally resign. I wrote one text to Sam and I got back a single heart emoji. That was the last I heard from him,” Harrison declares.
Harrison and Bankman-Fried had been colleagues years earlier at quantitative trading firm Jane Street, where Harrison saw his potential while teaching SBF in a course on programming for traders. But things went south real quick between them at FTX.
Harrison claims it was due to Bankman-Fried’s inflated ego and his reluctance to accept any feedback or advice.
“Sam hated criticism and, as a result, refused to communicate with me. It drove my decision to quit even further,” he says.
Yet, Harrison says he had no clue of the storm about to engulf the company with FTX declaring bankruptcy only a few months after he bailed from the U.S. arm of exchange.
“The rest of us, especially in the U.S., were blindsighted. We were working with regulators, top lawyers, and to have the whole organization fail because of one person’s greed, will stay with us for the rest of our life.”
However, he feels justice was done in the recent fraud trial against his former boss.
“I do feel the result was absolutely just, and I’m glad that justice was served quickly; I think it was essential that Sam was held accountable for his actions,” he declares.
Meanwhile, Harrison wasted no time diving into a new project.
He co-founded Architect.xyz, a DeFi platform that focuses on bridging all the different opportunities in the digital asset space for both institutional and retail investors.
Harrison is a bit of a brainiac and has a computer science degree focused on artificial intelligence (AI) from Harvard University. So, who better to ask about the potential for AI to take over the world?
“I do not think AI is a threat to humanity,” he declares, pointing out that AI has been in development for much longer than people think:
“Lots of people are now seeing AI for the first time, they don’t appreciate the decades of progress that has gone into it.”
Harrison is more concerned about humans using AI to pull off scams and swipe identities more effortlessly.
“It truly is just linear algebra,” he says. “The idea that linear algebra is some existential threat to our survival just feels somewhat fanciful to people who have been practitioners in the field for a long time.”
What led to Twitter Fame?
Harrison is a smart guy who drops interesting stuff on social media that people seem to dig.
But let’s not dance around the fact that the FTX connection is what blew up his follower numbers, with his count hitting its highest weekly peak when FTX took a nosedive in November 2022, when he gained 2,140 followers, according to data from Social Blade.
Back in January, his long rant about his departure from X got nearly 3 million eyeballs. He said he wasn’t canned from the FTX gig; it just wasn’t his dream job, and SBF was an “insecure, prideful manager.”
Content people can expect
If you scroll through Harrison’s timeline over the years, you’ll notice his glam lifestyle has toned down considerably since the FTX days.
Back then, he was often seen hanging out with celebs and former prime ministers.
Nowadays, it’s way more low-key. Besides throwing in some market talk, Harrison’s been sharing snippets about his family life lately.
He’s even flexing about saving toys from the FTX US office that somehow dodged the whole bankruptcy drama.
What type of content does he like?
Harrison loves the blend of genius and goofiness on Crypto X — getting a daily fix of humor and high intellect.
“One of the things I love about Crypto Twitter is the perfect mix of highly intellectual cerebral, either Market structure or political commentary, and degenerate memes.”
However, when we asked about the accounts he’s into, he’s not that forthcoming.
After doing some light digging, it turns out he’s following 2,100 accounts, and guess who’s in the mix? None other than Bankman-Fried’s pal Tiffany Fong.
Harrison used to avoid making predictions, saying he’d never have predicted the events that happened to him. But that was when things were going too smoothly, and that’s all changed.
Harrison declares there is a very “high probability” that a spot Bitcoin ETF will get approved in the first quarter of 2024.
As for price predictions? Harrison isn’t tossing out any six-figure numbers right away.
“In Q1 assuming there is an ETF that’s approved. I think something in the $50,000 to $55,000 range feels pretty probable,” he states.
He doesn’t see Bitcoin hitting six figures until “toward the end of 2024 or early 2025 at the earliest.”
He points to the first day of Bitcoin Futures ETF as just a little hint of how optimistic he is about the spot Bitcoin ETF:
“If you remember the day when a Bitcoin Futures ETF was listed the inflows were some of the highest ever seen in the history of ETFs. I think we’re going to see even more records broken for a spot Bitcoin ETF.”
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Kenyan crypto tax bill makes it through parliamentary committee
A bill defining crypto assets as securities and imposing capital gains tax on them has made it through a Kenyan parliamentary committee. It will be introduced to the lower chamber of parliament next.
According to the Kenyan newspaper Business Daily on Dec. 4, the Capital Markets (Amendment) Bill, 2023, has been approved by the National Assembly’s Finance and National Planning Committee. The report cites the Chairman of the Committee, Kimani Kuria:
“This is a very critical law that will guard our country against proceeds of crime and terrorism financing. Cryptocurrencies are already being traded by millions of Kenyans yet we have no law to govern it. We approve this Bill for publication.”
After the Committee’s approval, the bill will head to the reading stage in the National Assembly, the lower chamber of the Parliament of Kenya.
The Capital Markets (Amendment) Bill, 2023, amends the country’s tax code, imposing taxes on crypto assets stored on crypto exchanges and digital wallets. In its framework, Kenyans will pay capital gains for the increased crypto market value when they sell or use it in a transaction. While the bill’s text is unavailable in full, according to the Business Daily, “banks [will] deduct 20 percent excise duty on all commissions and fees charged on transactions.”
Should the bill pass, citizens of Kenya would be obliged to declare all their crypto assets and their value in Kenyan shillings to the Kenya Revenue Authority. The report cites part of the bill:
“A person who possesses or deals in digital currency shall provide the Authority with the following information for tax purposes—the amount of proceeds from the transaction, any costs related to the transaction and the amount of any gain or loss on the transaction.”
While Kenya is only preparing to introduce its crypto taxes, the tax services in other countries have recently been quite vocal in their desire to chase all those who didn’t declare their crypto accurately. For example, His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs recently demanded that United Kingdom hodlers declare any crypto they failed to report in the last four, six or even 20 years.
Singapore releases national AI strategy 2.0, plans for 15,000 AI experts
The Singaporean government released its updated national strategy for artificial intelligence (AI) 2.0 on Dec. 4, in which it outlined how it plans to embrace innovation and tackle the challenges coupled with the technology.
Singapore structured its AI strategy into three distinct systems, consisting of ten “enablers,” which drive those systems and then 15 action steps to make the system work. It’s first AI strategy was introduced in 2019.
The updated plan’s systematic approach focuses on three main areas of its society, including what it calls “activity drivers,” “people and communities,” and “infrastructure and environment.”
Building a smart nation
Among the action steps is Singapore’s plan to develop new AI “Centers of Excellence” (CoEs) across companies operating in the country to foster “sophisticated AI value creation and usage in key sectors.”
The updated AI plan also has benchmarks of equipping governmental agencies with “specialized knowledge, technical capabilities, and regulatory tools” and “sharpening” AI proficiency in all Singaporean public officers.
According to the vision, Singapore plans to use its government capacity to create resources to support AI adoption in the public sector.
Additionally, it said it plans to boost its quantity of “AI practitioners” or local experts to 15,000 through scaling up AI-specific training programs and technology and AI talent pipelines, and that it “remains open” to global talent.
The report said that various tech training programs centered around AI development have placed over 2,700 individuals in “good jobs” to date.
Singapore, like many other countries around the world, said it also plans to increase its computing capacity.
To do this, Singapore said it plans to “deepen” partnerships with major players in the industry, including chipmakers and cloud services providers (CSPs), as well as support local Singapore-based compute industry firms.
It plans to implement its action steps over the next 3-5 years to support its ambitions in the AI sector.
Singapore follows other countries in its push to embrace AI. Recently, at its AI Safety Summit, the United Kingdom said it plans to invest 300 million pounds into obtaining and operating 2 AI supercomputers to boost its own footprint in the global AI race.
OpenAI, one of the world’s leading AI developers, announced a partnership with G42 in Dubai to expand its reach into the Middle East region.
Meanwhile, the United States, one of the world’s top chip manufacturing hubs, has begun to tighten export controls targeting certain countries on its technology to develop and power high-level AI systems.
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