Europe

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

France

French regulators to crack down on unlicensed crypto platforms: While France is pitching itself as the next hub of blockchain technology, French regulators including Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) are also cracking down on unauthorized crypto platforms across the country.

AMF is essentially the stock market regulator in the country and helps regulate the financial markets as well. The AMF believes that several companies in the crypto sector are operating without authorization in the country and has since published new regulations for all platforms to comply.

A few non-complying startups include bitoraxe.com, solutioncrypto.com, solution-crypto.com, and connect-coin.com. Due to the prevailing law, no company can operate without the regulator AMF’s approval.

United Kingdom

Crypto sculpture in London invites mixed responses: A newly-commissioned crypto sculpture in London invited mixed responses from the public.

The temporary installation known as Crypto Connection is a three-meter high bronze statue that shows a fetus holding a smartphone inside the womb. While there is confusion on what it represents, the artist believes that it shows how cryptocurrencies will influence future generations. The statue has been placed at Observation Point alongside the River Thames.

Malta banker association believes crypto will make banks obsolete: The Malta Banker Association believes that cryptocurrencies will pose a huge threat to the existence of conventional banks.

Marcel Cassar, the chairman of the association was of this opinion during a meeting with the reporters and he suggested that the role of conventional bankers and their traditional role as the main payment intermediary will be threatened in the future, even if not made obsolete.

Malta is becoming increasingly popular for crypto companies because of looser regulations.

Stock exchange subsidiary to launch regulated blockchain exchange in Gibraltar: A Gibraltar Stock Exchange subsidiary called The Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange (GBX) is hoping to become the first licensed cryptocurrency exchange overseen by an EU stock exchange.

According to the CEO Nick Gowan, the platform will be fair, efficient and safe and will lure new fintech startups and companies to Gibraltar’s shores.

Germany

Bar to give free crypto with every drink: German bar Sausalitos is launching its own cryptocurrency, the Sausalitos Coin, which will be rewarded for every purchase via a blockchain-based loyalty program that runs on Ethereum.

This loyalty program will be cryptographically secure and since the coins coming from the process will be cryptocurrencies, they will never expire and thus give long-term benefits to the customers. Around 4 million customers visit the bars and restaurants under Sausalitos every year and it will deploy the test blockchain in the near future.

Russia

Top Russian banks start crypto portfolios: Top Russian banks including Sberbank and Alfa Bank are launching cryptocurrency portfolios for their clients to legitimize the ownership and trade of cryptocurrencies.

The project is part of the efforts by National Settlement Depository and Group IB that is the custodian of a shared fund that that is meant for special investors in cryptocurrencies, namely Kraken and Bitstamp.

Switzerland

UBS says blockchain crucial for the future: Swiss banking and fintech giant UBS chief Sergio Ermotti has told CNBC that blockchain technology is disruptive and is “almost a must” for a financial company like UBS to consider.

Ermotti says that blockchain can reduce costs, increase efficiency and be overall beneficial for the current system. The tech will also give the bank an edge over others, according to the CEO.

UBS has over USD 3.2 trillion worth of assets and a high brand of loyalty because of its reputation for security and discretion.

Italy

Crypto belonging to BitGrail seized in Italy: The Italian authorities have seized Bitcoin from the wallets of Italian exchange BitGrail as part of an ongoing investigation into the BitGrail/Nano saga.

A Florence court ordered the seizure of funds from the company after 17 million XRB (Nano) tokens were stolen from users worth around USD 187 million at that time. The hacking forced the exchange BitGrail to freeze trading and the Nano community has also litigated hard against the parent company to compensate the victims.

Ukraine

13% of Ukrainians adopting crypto: According to a survey by Bitcoin.com, as many as 13% of Ukrainians are adopting cryptocurrencies. Three top cryptocurrency exchanges operating in the country are now turning over USD 2 million per day according to the same report.

Ukraine is having a financial crisis right now that is buoyed by the political crisis in the country. The crypto exchanges have a saying in the country, “may you be forced to survive only on your official salary”, hinting at the nature of the economy that is encouraging many Ukrainians to get into the cryptocurrency space.

The survey shows that only 5% of the people in the country haven’t heard about the word Bitcoin or cryptocurrencies, which is considerably lower than in other countries. Some 82% of the men are well-informed about the cryptocurrencies with parliamentarians even declaring their assets in the form of digital currencies these days.

Netherlands

Dutch financial regulator expresses doubts about crypto: The Dutch Financial Authority for Financial Markets (AFM) has said that it has serious doubts about cryptocurrencies and their ability to conform to licensing laws, according to an official letter dated 13 June 2018.

The reason given is that the issues associated with managing and regulating cryptocurrencies are too great. The letter says: “In combination with the risks associated with cryptos, the AFM has serious doubts whether managers of investment institutions in cryptos can meet the requirements for licensing.”

Cryptocurrencies are not yet actively regulated by Dutch regulations but the AFM has asserted that they fall under its jurisdiction in some cases.

Scandinavia

Nordic-Baltic region claims $6.3 billion of European fintech businesses: The Nordic-Baltic region has claimed up to USD 6.3 billion worth of fintech businesses according to a MagnaCarta, Fintech Mundi and Mastercard report.

Fintech space is thriving in the Scandinavian region and it has created half of the new fintech partnerships which is far higher than previous estimates. According to the CEO of Fintech Mundi, Susanne Hannestead:

“The Nordic and Baltic markets already have an incredible track record of building fintech companies having created regional successes that have gone on to become global winners, like Spotify and Zwipe.”

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