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This Week in Bitcoin: Smooth Bitcoin Cash Upgrade, BCH and BTC Tax Payments in Florida
A notable week for Bitcoin Cash (BCH) – the network successfully upgraded the blockchain protocol by extending the block size to 32MB. The change will allow a greater number of transactions to be processed with inexpensive and consistent transaction fees. Also, Seminole County in Florida will accept tax payments in both Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Bitcoin Core (BTC) thanks to a partnership with Bitpay.
Bitcoin Cash Upgrades Blockchain Protocol
The Bitcoin Cash network has smoothly and successfully upgraded the blockchain protocol this Tuesday by extending the block size from 8MB to 32MB. The implementation of the new consensus rules went into effect at block height 530356.
The change represents one of the largest block size increases in blockchain history. The upgrade also includes an increased default data-carrier-size, from 80-bytes to 220-bytes, and re-enabling previously disabled Satoshi OP_Codes, which could add the ability to code colored coins and binary contracts.
The fourfold block size increase will allow vast amounts of transactions to pass through the network with consistent and inexpensive transaction fees. It also gives developers plenty of breathing room to adjust the size if it starts getting closer to its limit and paves a path for mass adoption. The block size limits are currently set by the miner, and developers are able to set the capacity so that blocks cannot get full in the immediate future. This means that the fees will remain low for quite some time and also reliable, even when transaction usage becomes as extreme as in the last quarter of 2017.
Bitpay Enables BCH and BTC for Tax Payments in Florida County
US-based crypto payment processor Bitpay has announced a formal agreement with Florida’s Seminole County Tax Collector, Joel M. Greenberg. Both Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Bitcoin Core (BTC) can be used for tax payments starting this summer. County residents will be able to pay in crypto for driver licenses, ID cards, and even property taxes.
“We live in a world where technology has made access to services on demand, with same-day delivery and the expectation of highly efficient customer service, and we should expect the same from our government,” Greenberg said. He added that the aim of his tenure in office is to make customer experience faster, smarter, and more efficient, and to bring government services from the 18th century into the 21st. One way to achieve that, the official says, is to add cryptocurrency to the available payment options.
China Ranks Almost 30 Cryptos, Finds Over 400 Fake Coins
The government of China, one of the first to ban cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, has come out with official crypto rankings. The Chinese Center for Information Industry Development (CCID) will be judging leading digital coins according to three major criteria – innovation, technology, and application – although details about the applied methodology are yet to be shared. A total of 28 cryptocurrencies and their respective blockchains have been ranked. Of the top four coins by market capitalization, Ethereum was ranked first, followed by Bitcoin Core (BTC) at number 13, Ripple is 17th, and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) – 25th. The Chinese top five include Ether, Steem, Lisk, NEO, and Komodo.
Another sign of growing attention to cryptocurrencies in China is the publication of a report on fake coins by a government-backed industry organization. The National Committee of Experts on the Internet Financial Security Technology (IFCERT) has identified 421 fake cryptocurrencies. The organization pointed out that 60% of these cryptos are deployed overseas. IFCERT also outlined some major red flags of the fake coins. According to the Committee, they often adopt “pyramid-based” business models and claim high returns. The cryptos have no real code – they either do not have a blockchain or cannot generate blocks for one. These coins are not traded on legitimate exchanges, the report also notes.
US Government Launches Scam Crypto Site
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has created and published its own version of an initial coin offering (ICO) scam website. “Combining the two most growth-oriented segments of the digital economy, blockchain technology and travel, Howeycoin is the newest and only coin offering that captures the magic of coin trading profits and the excitement and guaranteed returns of the travel industry,” the mock SEC website claims. It promises partnerships in all segments of the travel industry and “earning coins you can trade for profit.”
“The rapid growth of the ‘ICO’ market, and its widespread promotion as a new investment opportunity, has provided fertile ground for bad actors to take advantage of our Main Street investors. We embrace new technologies, but we also want investors to see what fraud looks like, so we built this educational site with many of the classic warning signs of fraud,” SEC Chairman Jay Clayton explained. He also noted that distributed ledger technology can add efficiency to the capital raising process, but promoters and issuers need to make sure they follow the securities laws. “I encourage investors to do their diligence and ask questions,” Clayton said.
EU Adopts Rules to Reduce Anonymity for Crypto Users
This week, the European Union moved closer to its goal to minimize anonymous crypto transactions. The EU Council adopted a directive, which updates the European anti-money laundering legislation. The new rules come with requirements for crypto platforms to introduce know-your-customer procedures. The amendments were adopted at a meeting of the General Affairs Council on Monday, following an agreement with the European Parliament form December. In April this year, MEPs voted to support the deal to “bring cryptocurrencies under closer regulation.”
The main changes involve addressing the “risks linked to virtual currencies” by taking steps to reduce anonymity for both crypto traders and crypto-related transactions. Providers of exchange services between virtual and fiat currencies, as well as custodian wallet providers, will be obliged to identify suspicious activities. The directive states that authorities should be able to monitor the use of cryptocurrencies through these platforms, and the national financial intelligence units should have access to information allowing them to associate crypto addresses with the their owners.
South Korean Regulators Widen Investigation of Crypto Exchanges
The government in Seoul is widening its probe on cryptocurrency exchanges focusing on the use of corporate accounts for crypto transactions, which the regulators say can lead to money laundering. The practice should have been discontinued when authorities introduced the real-name system at the end of January. However, only 30% of all crypto accounts have been converted into real-name ones so far. South Korea’s top financial regulators are now teaming up with prosecutors to widen the investigation.
The six banks that can issue real-name accounts have chosen to only service the country’s largest crypto exchanges: Upbit, Bithumb, Coinone, and Korbit. Nonetheless, not all accounts at these exchanges have been converted into real-name ones. In addition, all small and medium-sized exchanges continue to use corporate accounts for crypto transactions. The regulators warn that the use of corporate accounts can lead to fraud. The announcement of the widening probe follows the launch of an investigation on the largest South Korean crypto exchange, Upbit.
What are your thoughts on the top stories we’ve covered this week? Let us know in the comments section below.
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