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PayPal Launches its Cryptocurrency Service In The UK

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The U.S. online payments giant, PayPal, on Monday said it would let British customers buy, hold and sell digital currencies, starting this week.

It marks the first international expansion of PayPal’s crypto product, which first launched in the U.S. in October last year.

“It has been doing really well in the U.S.,” Jose Fernandez da Ponte, PayPal’s general manager for blockchain, crypto and digital currencies, told CNBC. “We expect it’s going to do well in the U.K.”

PayPal’s crypto feature lets customers buy or sell bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ethereum or litecoin with as little as £1. Users can also track crypto prices in real-time, and find educational content on the market.

Like the U.S. version of the product, PayPal is relying on Paxos, a New York-regulated digital currency company, to enable crypto buying and selling in the U.K. PayPal said it has engaged with relevant U.K. regulators to launch the service.

A spokesperson for the Financial Conduct Authority, Britain’s financial services watchdog, was not immediately available for comment on the announcement.

PayPal’s crypto service is similar to one from U.K. fintech firm Revolut. As is the case with Revolut, PayPal users can’t move their crypto holdings outside the app. Although Revolut recently started testing a feature that lets users withdraw bitcoin to their own personal wallets.

PayPal says its foray into crypto is about making it easier for people to participate in the market. “The tokens and coins have been around for a while but you had to be a relatively sophisticated user to be able to access that,” da Ponte said. “Having that on a platform like ours makes a really good entry point.”

The payments processor is one of many large finance companies taking a leap into the mostly unregulated world of cryptocurrencies. Despite ongoing concerns about price volatility, consumer protection and potential money laundering in the industry, major firms including Mastercard, Tesla and Facebook have been warming to crypto lately.

Bitcoin, the world’s biggest digital currency, hit a record high of nearly $65,000 in April before tumbling below $30,000 in July as Chinese regulators extended a crackdown on the market. It has since recovered to a price of $50,063 as of press time.

While PayPal started with crypto trading, the company is betting digital currencies will take a greater role in e-commerce in the long run. Earlier this year, PayPal started letting U.S. consumers use crypto to pay millions of its online merchants globally. The firm also expanded crypto buying and selling to Venmo, its popular mobile wallet.

“We definitely have ambitions to continue to expand the product range in the U.S., the U.K. and other markets,” da Ponte said.

“We are very deliberate about starting with initial functionality, and then we’ll see where the market is going to take us. Different markets have different appetites for products.”

The launch of PayPal’s crypto service in the U.K. also comes as regulators become increasingly wary about the rise of digital currencies. In June, the FCA banned the British subsidiary of Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, citing a failure to meet money-laundering requirements.

“It makes sense that, as there is increased consumer interest and increased volume, the regulators are putting more attention into this space,” da Ponte said, adding that PayPal has built “strong regulatory relations.”

Meanwhile, central banks are exploring the potential issuance of their own digital currencies, as cash used in a number of developed countries dwindles rapidly. In April, the U.K. Treasury and Bank of England said they would evaluate the potential launch of a digital version of the British pound, dubbed “Britcoin” by the U.K. press.

Da Ponte said central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs, were a “fantastic prospect” but it would take policymakers some time to iron out the key issues involved.

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Nigeria’s SEC to Enforce Weekly, Monthly Reports from Crypto Service Providers

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced a new regulatory framework requiring Virtual Assets Service Providers (VASPs) to submit weekly and monthly trading statistics.

This move is part of a broader effort to monitor and regulate Nigeria’s burgeoning crypto market, according to a document released by the SEC titled “A Framework on Accelerated Regulatory Incubation Program for the Onboarding of Virtual Assets Service Providers (VASPs) and other Digital Investments Service Providers (DISPs).”

The framework aims to bring more structure to the country’s crypto ecosystem by amending existing rules on digital asset issuance, offering platforms, exchanges, and custodians.

The SEC’s initiative is seen as a significant step toward enhancing oversight and ensuring compliance within the rapidly evolving digital asset space.

Accelerated Regulatory Incubation Program

The Accelerated Regulatory Incubation Program (ARIP) will provide a special window for onboarding VASPs. The SEC has outlined specific reporting requirements for participants in the ARIP, including:

  • Weekly and monthly trading statistics.
  • Quarterly financials.
  • Compliance reports demonstrating adherence to the SEC’s conditions.
  • Reports on key issues such as misconduct, fraud, or operational incidents.
  • Actions taken to address customer complaints and emergent risks.

A Growing Market

Nigeria boasts one of the largest peer-to-peer (P2P) crypto markets globally. According to blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis, crypto transactions in the country amounted to $56.7 billion between July 2022 and June 2023, averaging $1.09 billion weekly.

Industry and Regulatory Insights

Senator Ihenyen, lead partner and head of blockchain and virtual assets practice at Infusion Lawyers, emphasized the importance of regulating digital assets for economic and security reasons.

“Nigeria can no longer afford to keep pushing digital assets underground for obvious economic and security reasons,” Ihenyen said.

He noted that the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) recognition of the SEC’s regulatory role marks a positive shift for the sector, with regulators now working together to ensure consumer protection and investor safety.

Comparisons have been drawn with regulatory practices in South Africa, where a similar approach has been adopted to meet Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards on anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing for digital assets.

“Execution is what will make the difference,” said an industry expert. “We’ve never been lacking in regulations.”

Government and Industry Reactions

Earlier in July, Wale Edun, Nigeria’s minister of finance and coordinating minister of the economy, urged the SEC to address the complexities of crypto regulation.

“The SEC board should be willing to accept the challenge of regulating these new areas, particularly crypto, as they are fast-moving complex areas,” Edun stated.

The Senate Committee on Capital Markets also emphasized the need for crypto regulation to ensure accountability and protect investors’ funds.

Osita Izunaso, chairman of the committee, pointed out, “The issue of cryptocurrency must be regulated because Nigerians are trading in crypto. Since Nigerians are trading in crypto, why are we not regulating it? Where is the money going if we don’t regulate activities in the crypto market?”

Compliance and Challenges

The new regulatory framework aims to facilitate the onboarding of entities willing to engage in virtual asset activities and enhance the SEC’s understanding of digital asset business models.

However, some industry insiders have raised concerns about the practicality of certain requirements, such as the need for a physical presence for crypto companies.

Chimezie Chuta, founder and coordinator of the Blockchain Nigeria User Group, highlighted the potential benefits of regulation for tax revenues.

However, others worry about over-regulation. “We are now like banks that are over-regulated. Between 2020 and now, we have had new regulations and changes to existing rules, but where has that taken us to?” questioned a Lagos-based crypto player.

As Nigeria’s crypto market continues to evolve, the SEC’s new regulatory framework represents a crucial step towards ensuring transparency, accountability, and consumer protection in the digital assets space.

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KuCoin Announces New 7.5% VAT on Transaction Fees for Nigerian Customers

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KuCoin has announced the implementation of a 7.5% Value-Added Tax (VAT) on transaction fees.

This new regulation will take effect on July 8th, 2024, impacting all users whose Know Your Customer (KYC) information is registered in Nigeria.

KuCoin, one of the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchange platforms, revealed this update in a statement addressed to its Nigerian users.

The tax will be applied exclusively to transaction fees, not the overall transaction amount.

For example, a user buying 1,000 USDT worth of Bitcoin will incur a fee of 1 USDT at the standard 0.1% fee rate.

The new VAT at 7.5% will apply to this fee, resulting in an additional charge of 0.075 USDT.

Consequently, the net amount available for the transaction will be 998.925 USDT.

KuCoin clarified that the VAT would cover all types of transactions on its platform. The move aligns with recent regulatory updates and demonstrates the company’s commitment to complying with local tax laws.

The announcement has garnered mixed reactions from the Nigerian cryptocurrency community. Some users express concern over the added cost to their transactions, while others recognize it as a necessary step towards greater regulatory compliance and legitimacy for cryptocurrency trading in Nigeria.

KuCoin encourages affected users to seek assistance through their Telegram group or by contacting the online support team for further guidance on the new tax regulations.

As Nigeria continues to evolve its regulatory framework for digital assets, this development underscores the importance for traders to stay informed about local laws and their potential impacts on trading activities.

The KuCoin team expressed their gratitude for users’ cooperation and understanding, reiterating their commitment to providing a secure and compliant trading environment.

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Bitcoin Eyes Gains with Seasonal July Boost After Slump

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After several months of declines and rangebound trading, Bitcoin (BTC) bulls have reason to cheer as the largest cryptocurrency is poised for a potential seasonal upswing this July.

Historical data and recent market movements suggest a positive outlook for Bitcoin, following a period marked by billions in sales, upcoming selling pressure, and outflows from exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Since April, Bitcoin has been trading within a narrow band of $59,000 to $74,000, weighed down by market dynamics and peak negative sentiment among retail traders.

However, July has historically been a bullish month for Bitcoin, and early indicators show a possible reversal of recent trends.

On the first day of July, U.S.-listed ETFs recorded nearly $130 million in inflows, their highest since early June.

This influx comes after a significant $900 million outflow in the previous month, signaling renewed investor confidence in the cryptocurrency.

“Bitcoin has a median return of 9.6% in July and tends to bounce back strongly, especially after a negative June,” said Singapore-based QCP Capital in a recent Telegram broadcast.

“Our options desk saw flows positioning for an upside move last Friday into the month-end, possibly in anticipation of the ETH spot ETF launch. Many signs point to a bullish July.”

Historical data supports this optimistic outlook. Over the past decade, Bitcoin has gained an average of more than 11% in July, with positive returns in seven out of the ten months.

A 2023 report by crypto fund Matrixport highlighted significant July returns in recent years, with gains of around 27% in 2019, 20% in 2020, and 24% in 2021.

Seasonality, the tendency of assets to experience regular and predictable changes that recur annually, appears to be a driving factor.

These seasonal cycles can be influenced by various factors, such as profit-taking around tax season in April and May, leading to drawdowns, and the generally bullish “Santa Claus” rally in December, which reflects increased demand.

As the cryptocurrency market enters July, Bitcoin traders and investors are optimistic about a potential rally. While the market remains cautious of underlying pressures, the historical trends and recent inflows suggest a favorable environment for Bitcoin’s resurgence.

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