What Happened in The Cryptocurrency World in the Last Week?

Formation of a Justice League for Blockchain Technology

Washington, DC-based trade association representing the digital asset industry, the Chamber of Digital Commerce, announced the formation of Blockchain Alliance, a public-private forum formed by the bitcoin community to help combat criminal activity involving bitcoin and the blockchain, in partnership with Coin Center, a leading nonprofit research and advocacy center focused on the public policy issues facing cryptocurrency technologies such as bitcoin. The Blockchain Alliance is comprised of a broad coalition of companies and other institutions that have come together to address public safety concerns about digital currencies and the blockchain.

The Blockchain Alliance will:

- Serve as a resource for law enforcement to benefit from the expertise of some of the brightest minds in the blockchain industry for technical assistance in response to challenges faced during investigations.

- Serve as a forum for open dialogue between law enforcement and the bitcoin community about issues of concern to make the blockchain more secure and to deter its use for unlawful purposes.

Companies like BitFinex, BitFury, BitGo, Bitnet, BitPay, BitStamp, Blockchain, Bloq, Circle, CoinBase, CoinX, ItBit, Kraken, Noble Markets, and Xapo will be a part of Blockchain Alliance. Jason Weinstein, Partner at Steptoe & Johnson LLP, and the former Deputy Assistant Attorney General in charge of cybercrime investigations at the Department of Justice and a member of the strategic advisory boards of the Chamber, Coin Center and BitFury, will serve as Director of the Blockchain Alliance. Dr. James Newsome, Former Chairman of CFTC, will serve as the advisor while Steptoe Johnson LLP will be the counsel of Blockchain Alliance.

Perianne Boring, President of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, said, It’s no secret that bitcoin has perception issues, which is a roadblock to mainstream adoption. Having an open dialogue with law enforcement and policymakers will help reduce anxiety about this transformative technology. This initiative goes hand-in-hand with the Chamber’s mission of promoting a regulatory approach that supports innovation, jobs and investment. Getting criminals off the blockchain is not only good for public safety—it’s good for business.

However, there have been controversies on the Internet surrounding the Blockchain Alliance already.

American Express Enters the Cryptocurrency World

Abra, the world’s first digital cash, peer-to-peer money transfer network announced a Series A funding of $12million from Ratan Tata (Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons) American Express, First Round Capital and Jungle Ventures. On the same day, Abra also announced that the Abra app will be available to all registered users in the US and the Philippines in the coming weeks, and their entry into online, digital cash-based merchant payments.

This marks the first time that Ratan Tata and American Express have invested in the cryptocurrency world.

Blockchain Startup Wins FinTech Americas' Hackathon

Spanish startup Bit2Me has won $10,000 for its new blockchain-powered remittance app Hive. The startup was awarded the prize after pitching Hive at FinTech Americas' hackathon, held in Miami last week. Hive is a peer-to-peer app that leverages blockchain technology to enable the transfer of funds between users, who can top-up their accounts with either bitcoin or credit cards.

Australian Securities Exchange to Replace Existing System With Blockchain Technology

Australian Securities Exchange has considered replacing its current clearing and settlement system, Clearing House Electronic Subregister System (CHESS) with blockchain technology. "We see CHESS replacement as a one-in-20-year opportunity," Mr. Funke Kupper said. "We're thinking about whether there are smarter ways to do things—to remove a lot of administrative costs and reconciliation costs from the back end of investment banking and broking, and this is where blockchain could be potentially quite helpful."

Bitcoin became tax-free in Europe last week after the European Court of Justice ruled that bitcoins should be treated as a means of payment, and were protected under the directive. Bitcoin will now be treated the same way as traditional money in Europe. In September 2015, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the main financial regulator in the US, had announced that virtual currency like bitcoin will now be recognized as a commodity in the US just like materials like gold and oil and are covered by the Commodity Exchange Act. The government can now collect taxes from those using it.

NASDAQ Continues Its Efforts in Blockchain Technology

NASDAQ has acquired SecondMarket, a recognized innovator in facilitating liquidity for private company securities to promote their blockchain efforts. SecondMarket will be integrated into NASDAQ Private Market. "The combination of NASDAQ Private Market and SecondMarket provides an exceptional platform for private companies to manage their equity and provide liquidity events for employees and investors," said Nelson Griggs, Executive Vice President of NASDAQ and board member of the NASDAQ Private Market. "NASDAQ has been synonymous with innovation in the capital markets for over 40 years, and this transaction, along with our blockchain efforts, creates new opportunities to serve the equity needs of companies throughout their time in the private arena."