Category Archives: Cryptocurrencies

MicroStrategy Announces Proposed Private Offering of $400 Million of Senior Secured Notes

MicroStrategy® Incorporated (Nasdaq: MSTR) (“MicroStrategy”) today announced that it intends to offer, subject to market conditions and other factors, $400 million aggregate principal amount of senior secured notes due 2028 (the “notes”) in a private offering to qualified institutional buyers in reliance on Rule 144A under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”) and to persons outside of the United States in compliance with Regulation S under the Securities Act. The offering is subject to market and other conditions, and there can be no assurance as to whether, when or on what terms the offering may be completed.

The notes will be fully and unconditionally guaranteed on a senior secured basis, jointly and severally, by MicroStrategy Services Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of MicroStrategy, and certain subsidiaries of MicroStrategy that may be formed or acquired after the closing of the offering. The notes and the related guarantees will be secured, on a senior secured basis with MicroStrategy’s existing and future senior indebtedness, by security interests on substantially all of MicroStrategy’s and the guarantors’ assets, including any bitcoins or other digital assets acquired on or after the closing of the offering, but excluding MicroStrategy’s existing bitcoins as well as bitcoins and digital assets acquired with the proceeds from existing bitcoins. MicroStrategy’s existing approximately 92,079 bitcoins will be held by a newly formed subsidiary, MacroStrategy LLC.

MicroStrategy intends to use the net proceeds from the sale of the notes to acquire additional bitcoins.

The notes and related guarantees will be offered and sold to qualified institutional buyers pursuant to Rule 144A under the Securities Act and to persons outside of the United States in compliance with Regulation S under the Securities Act. The offer and sale of the notes and the related guarantees have not been and will not be registered under the Securities Act or the securities laws of any other jurisdiction, and the notes and the related guarantees may not be offered or sold in the United States except pursuant to an exemption from, or in a transaction not subject to, the registration requirements of the Securities Act and applicable state securities laws. Any offer of the notes and the related guarantees will be made only by means of a private offering memorandum.

This press release shall not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy the notes or any other securities, nor shall there be any sale of the notes or the related guarantees in any state or jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful under the securities laws of any such state or jurisdiction.

About MicroStrategy Incorporated

MicroStrategy (Nasdaq: MSTR) is the largest independent publicly-traded analytics and business intelligence company. The MicroStrategy analytics platform is consistently rated as the best in enterprise analytics and is used by many of the world’s most admired brands in the Fortune Global 500. We pursue two corporate strategies: (1) grow our enterprise analytics software business to promote our vision of Intelligence Everywhere and (2) acquire and hold bitcoin, which we view as a dependable store of value supported by a robust, public, open-source architecture untethered to sovereign monetary policy. For more information about MicroStrategy, visit www.microstrategy.com.

MicroStrategy is a registered trademark of MicroStrategy Incorporated in the United States and certain other countries. Other product and company names mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Digital Asset Savings and Loan Platform Ledn Raises US$30M Series A

Ledn continues its global expansion plans with a $30 million financing round led by London-based investment firm Kingsway Capital.

Ledn Inc. (“Ledn”), a global digital asset platform offering innovative saving and lending products for Bitcoin and other digital assets, is pleased to announce the completion of a $30 million Series A financing round led by Kingsway Capital, with participation from new investors including Alan Howard, Hashed, Susquehanna Private Equity Investments LLLP, ParaFi Capital, Alexis Ohanian, and John Pfeffer. All investors from Ledn’s prior round including White Star Capital’s Digital Asset Fund, Coinbase Ventures, Global Founders Capital and CMT Digital also participated to fuel Ledn’s growth.

Ledn has grown its assets on its platform by over 320% since its last round, just six months ago. Proceeds of the round will be used to grow Ledn’s team and global presence, as well as continue to enhance Ledn’s technology and product offerings. Additionally, Ledn’s investors bring regional-specific expertise that will enable Ledn to achieve its mission of unlocking the power of Bitcoin and other digital assets to build wealth through innovative financial products.

“We are building a world class company to help people globally unlock the power of the fastest growing asset class for building generational wealth,” says Adam Reeds, Ledn co-founder and CEO. “With this new injection of capital, we will expand on our success in North & South America and grow our global footprint, prioritizing growth markets. Our focus is to build simple and secure solutions that allow clients to participate in the growing digital asset economy in a way that meets their individual needs and our own rigorous standard for security and reliability.”

“We prioritize the needs of the people we serve, investing in solutions like proof-of-reserves to protect them, and provide assurance that all of our lending activities are covered by real assets,” said Mauricio Di Bartolomeo, co-founder and CSO. “Growing up in Venezuela, I saw first hand how an unregulated system with little to no transparency can impact its people, and that’s why it’s such a core component of how we manage the funds our clients entrust to us.”

Ledn also recently launched Ledn Trade, a service that enables clients to exchange between USDC and Bitcoin, specifically catering to clients in growth markets who wish to quickly move between the two digital assets. The product-market fit of Ledn’s services to date is evidence of a growing global demand for this kind of innovative digital asset solution.

“Having spent nearly a decade investing in emerging and frontier markets, we’ve had first-hand experience witnessing the power of disruptive technologies delivered to billions of consumers coming online for the very first time,” says Manuel Stotz, founder of Kingsway Capital. “The emergence of digital assets, whether via Bitcoin or USD Stablecoins, is perhaps the greatest opportunity for financial inclusion, as well as an opportunity for a more decentralized and thus more equitable global internet. We are proud to support the talented team at Ledn in making this vision a reality and are honored to co-invest alongside such a world-class roster of global investors.”

About Ledn

Ledn provides financial products with a mission to help clients across the globe unlock the power of digital assets to build wealth for the long term. Operating in over 100 countries, Ledn offers interest-bearing savings accounts and Bitcoin-backed loans, enabling clients to access dollars or additional Bitcoin without needing to sell any of their existing holdings.

Ledn has active clients in 105 countries, and has exceeded $1 billion in assets on its platform. Since the start of 2021, Ledn has tripled its team while growing its total lending book by over 800% and savings products by 280%. Ledn remains an industry leader when it comes to transparency and accountability standards, being the first-ever lending platform to undergo a formal proof-of-reserves attestation by Armanino LLP, a top public accounting and consulting firm and a recognized global leader in digital asset assurance solutions. For more information visit ledn.io.

About Kingsway Capital

Kingsway Capital is a London-based investment firm whose limited partners include leading US endowments and foundations with a long-term investment horizon, measured in years and decades. Kingsway has a successful history in backing promising companies at the nexus of Emerging Markets and disruptive technologies, such as mobile internet and digital assets.

Governor Lael Brainard: Private Money and Central Bank Money as Payments Go Digital: an Update on CBDCs

Technology is driving dramatic change in the U.S. payments system, which is a vital infrastructure that touches everyone.1 The pandemic accelerated the migration to contactless transactions and highlighted the importance of access to safe, timely, and low-cost payments for all. With technology platforms introducing digital private money into the U.S. payments system, and foreign authorities exploring the potential for central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) in cross-border payments, the Federal Reserve is stepping up its research and public engagement on CBDCs. As Chair Powell discussed last week, an important early step on public engagement is a plan to publish a discussion paper this summer to lay out the Federal Reserve Board’s current thinking on digital payments, with a particular focus on the benefits and risks associated with CBDC in the U.S. context.2

Sharpening the Focus on CBDCs

Four developments—the growing role of digital private money, the migration to digital payments, plans for the use of foreign CBDCs in cross-border payments, and concerns about financial exclusion—are sharpening the focus on CBDCs.

First, some technology platforms are developing stablecoins for use in payments networks.3 A stablecoin is a type of digital asset whose value is tied in some way to traditional stores of value, such as government-issued, or fiat, currencies or gold. Stablecoins vary widely in the assets they are linked to, the ability of users to redeem the stablecoin claims for the reference assets, whether they allow unhosted wallets, and the extent to which a central issuer is liable for making good on redemption rights. Unlike central bank fiat currencies, stablecoins do not have legal tender status. Depending on underlying arrangements, some may expose consumers and businesses to risk. If widely adopted, stablecoins could serve as the basis of an alternative payments system oriented around new private forms of money. Given the network externalities associated with achieving scale in payments, there is a risk that the widespread use of private monies for consumer payments could fragment parts of the U.S. payment system in ways that impose burdens and raise costs for households and businesses. A predominance of private monies may introduce consumer protection and financial stability risks because of their potential volatility and the risk of run-like behavior. Indeed, the period in the nineteenth century when there was active competition among issuers of private paper banknotes in the United States is now notorious for inefficiency, fraud, and instability in the payments system.4 It led to the need for a uniform form of money backed by the national government.

Second, the pandemic accelerated the migration to digital payments. Even before the pandemic, some countries, like Sweden, were seeing a pronounced migration from cash to digital payments.5 To the extent that digital payments crowd out the use of cash, this raises questions about how to ensure that consumers retain access to a form of safe central bank money. In the United States, the pandemic led to an acceleration of the migration to digital payments as well as increased demand for cash. While the use of cash spiked at certain times, there was a pronounced shift by consumers and businesses to contactless transactions facilitated by electronic payments.6 The Federal Reserve remains committed to ensuring that the public has access to safe, reliable, and secure means of payment, including cash. As part of this commitment, we must explore—and try to anticipate—the extent to which households’ and businesses’ needs and preferences may migrate further to digital payments over time.

Third, some foreign countries have chosen to develop and, in some cases, deploy their own CBDC. Although each country will decide whether to issue a CBDC based on its unique domestic conditions, the issuance of a CBDC in one jurisdiction, along with its prominent use in cross-border payments, could have significant effects across the globe. Given the potential for CBDCs to gain prominence in cross-border payments and the reserve currency role of the dollar, it is vital for the United States to be at the table in the development of cross-border standards.

Finally, the pandemic underscored the importance of access to timely, safe, efficient, and affordable payments for all Americans and the high cost associated with being unbanked and underbanked. While the large majority of pandemic relief payments moved quickly via direct deposits to bank accounts, it took weeks to distribute relief payments in the form of prepaid debit cards and checks to households who did not have up-to-date bank account information with the Internal Revenue Service. The challenges of getting relief payments to these households highlighted the benefits of delivering payments more quickly, cheaply, and seamlessly through digital means.

Policy Considerations
In any assessment of a CBDC, it is important to be clear about what benefits a CBDC would offer over and above current and emerging payments options, what costs and risks a CBDC might entail, and how it might affect broader policy objectives. I will briefly discuss several of the most prominent considerations.

Preserve general access to safe central bank money
Central bank money is important for payment systems because it represents a safe settlement asset, allowing users to exchange central bank liabilities without concern about liquidity and credit risk. Consumers and businesses don’t generally consider whether the money they are using is a liability of the central bank, as with cash, or of a commercial bank, as with bank deposits. This is largely because the two are seamlessly interchangeable for most purposes owing to the provision of federal deposit insurance and banking supervision, which provide protection for consumers and businesses alike. It is not obvious that new forms of private money that reference fiat currency, like stablecoins, can carry the same level of protection as bank deposits or fiat currency. Although various federal and state laws establish protections for users, nonbank issuers of private money are not regulated to the same extent as banks, the value stored in these systems is not insured directly by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and consumers may be at risk that the issuer will not be able to honor its liabilities. New forms of private money may introduce counterparty risk into the payments system in new ways that could lead to consumer protection threats or, at large scale, broader financial stability risks.

In contrast, a digital dollar would be a new type of central bank money issued in digital form for use by the general public. By introducing safe central bank money that is accessible to households and businesses in digital payments systems, a CBDC would reduce counterparty risk and the associated consumer protection and financial stability risks.

Improve efficiency
One expected benefit is that a CBDC would reduce or even eliminate operational and financial inefficiencies, or other frictions, in payments, clearing, and settlement. Today, the speed by which consumers and businesses can access the funds following a payment can vary significantly, up to a few days when relying on certain instruments, such as a check, to a few seconds in a real-time payments system. Advances in technology, including the use of distributed ledgers and smart contracts, may have the potential to fundamentally change the way in which payment activities are conducted and the roles of financial intermediaries and infrastructures. The introduction of a CBDC may provide an important foundation for beneficial innovation and competition in retail payments in the United States.

Most immediately, we are taking a critical step to build a strong foundation with the introduction of the FedNowSM Service, a new instant payments infrastructure that is scheduled to go into production in two years. The FedNow Service will enable banks of every size and in every community across America to provide safe and efficient instant payment services around the clock, every day of the year. Through the banks using the service, consumers and businesses will be able to send and receive payments conveniently, such as on a mobile device, and recipients will have full access to funds immediately.

Promote competition and diversity and lower transactions costs
Today, the costs of certain retail payments transactions are high and not always transparent to end users.7 Competition among a diversity of payment providers and payment types has the potential to increase the choices available to businesses and consumers, reduce transactions costs, and foster innovation in end-user services, although it could also contribute to fragmentation of the current payments system. By providing access to a digital form of safe central bank money, a CBDC could provide an important foundation on which private-sector competition could flourish.

Reduce cross-border frictions
Cross-border payments, such as remittances, represent one of the most compelling use cases for digital currencies. The intermediation chains for cross-border payments are notoriously long, complex, costly, and opaque. Digitalization, along with a reduction in the number of intermediaries, holds considerable promise to reduce the cost, opacity, and time required for cross-border payments. While the introduction of CBDCs may be part of the solution, international collaboration on standard setting and protections against illicit activity will be required in order to achieve material improvements in cost, timeliness, and transparency.8

We are collaborating with international colleagues through the Bank for International Settlements, Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures, and the G7 to ensure the U.S. stays abreast of developments related to CBDC abroad. We are engaging in several international efforts to improve the transparency, timeliness, and cost-effectiveness of cross-border payments. It will be important to be engaged at the outset on the development of any international standards that may apply to CBDCs, given the dollar’s important role as a reserve currency.

Complement currency and bank deposits
A guiding principle for any payments innovation is that it should improve upon the existing payments system. Consumers have access to reliable money in the forms of private bank accounts and central bank issued currency, which form the underpinnings of the current retail payments system. The design of any CBDC should complement and not replace currency and bank accounts.

Preserve financial stability and monetary policy transmission
The introduction of a CBDC has the potential to have wide-reaching effects, and there are open questions about how CBDC could affect financial stability and monetary policy transmission. Some research indicates that the introduction of a CBDC might raise the risk of a flight out of deposits at weak banks in favor of CBDC holdings at moments of financial stress.9 Other research indicates that the increase in competition could result in more attractive terms on transactions accounts and an overall increase in banking system deposits.10 Banks play a critical role in credit intermediation and monetary policy transmission, as well as in payments. Thus, the design of any CBDC would need to include safeguards to protect against disintermediation of banks and to preserve monetary policy transmission more broadly. While it is critical to consider the ways in which a CBDC could introduce risks relative to the current payments system, it may increase resilience relative to a payments system where private money is prominent.

Protect privacy and safeguard financial integrity
The design of any CBDC would need to both safeguard the privacy of households’ payments transactions and prevent and trace illicit activity to maintain the integrity of the financial system, which will require the digital verification of identities. There are a variety of approaches to safeguarding the privacy of payments transactions while also identifying and preventing illicit activity and verifying digital identities. Addressing these critical objectives will require working across government agencies to assign roles and responsibilities for preventing illicit transactions and clearly establishing how consumer financial data would be protected.

Increase financial inclusion
Today 5.4 percent of American households lack access to bank accounts and the associated payment options they offer, and a further 18.7 percent were underbanked as of 2017.11 The lack of access to bank accounts imposes high burdens on these households, whose financial resilience is often fragile. At the height of the pandemic, the challenges associated with getting relief payments to hard-to-reach households highlighted that it is important for all households to have transactions accounts. The Federal Reserve’s proposals for strengthening the Community Reinvestment Act emphasize the value of banks providing cost-free, low-balance accounts and other banking services targeted to underbanked and unbanked communities.12 And a core goal of FedNow is to provide ubiquitous access to an instant payments system via depository institutions.

CBDC may be one part of a broader solution to the challenge of achieving ubiquitous account access.13 Depending on the design, CBDC may have the ability to lower transaction costs and increase access to digital payments. In emergencies, CBDC may offer a mechanism for the swift and direct transfer of funds, providing rapid relief to those most in need. A broader solution to financial inclusion would also need to address any perceived barriers to maintaining a transaction account, along with the need to maintain up-to-date records on active accounts to reach a large segment of the population.14

To explore these broader issues, the Federal Reserve is undertaking research on financial inclusion. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta is launching a public–private sector collaboration as a Special Committee on Payments Inclusion to ensure that cash-based and vulnerable populations can safely access and benefit from digital payments.15 This work is complemented by a new Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland initiative to explore the prospects for CBDC to increase financial inclusion. The initiative will identify CBDC design features and delivery approaches focused on expanding access to individuals who do not currently use traditional financial services.

Technology Considerations
Multidisciplinary teams at the Federal Reserve are investigating the technological and policy issues associated with digital innovations in payments, clearing, and settlement, including the benefits and risks associated with a potential U.S. CBDC. For example, the TechLab group at the Federal Reserve Board is performing hands-on research and experimentation on potential future states of money, payments, and digital currencies. A second group, the Digital Innovations Policy program, is considering a broad range of policy issues associated with the rise of digital payments, including the potential benefits and risks associated with CBDC.

To deepen our research on the technological design of a CBDC, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston is partnering with Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Digital Currency Initiative on Project Hamilton to build and test a hypothetical digital currency platform using leading edge technology design options.16 This work aims to research the feasibility of the core processing of a CBDC, while remaining agnostic about a range of policy decisions. MIT and the Boston Fed plan to release a white paper next quarter that will document the ability to meet goals on throughput of geographically dispersed transactions with core processing and create an open source license for the code. Subsequent work will explore how addressing additional requirements, including resiliency, privacy, and anti-money-laundering features, will impact core processing performance and design.

Banking Activities
Research and experimentation are also occurring at supervised banking institutions to explore new technology to enhance their own operations and in response to demands from their clients for services such as custody of digital assets. While distributed ledger technology may have the potential to improve efficiencies, increase competition, and lower costs, digital assets pose heightened risks such as those related to Bank Secrecy Act/anti-money laundering, cybersecurity, price volatility, privacy, and consumer compliance. The Federal Reserve is actively monitoring developments in this area, engaging with the industry and other regulators, and working to identify any regulatory, supervisory, and oversight framework gaps. Given that decisions at one banking agency can have implications for the other agencies, it is important that regulators work together to develop common approaches to ensure that banks are appropriately identifying, monitoring, and managing risks associated with digital assets.

Public Engagement
In light of the growing role of digital private money in the broader migration to digital payments, the potential use of foreign CBDCs in cross-border payments, and the importance of financial inclusion, the Federal Reserve is stepping up its research and public engagement on a digital version of the U.S. dollar. Members of Congress and executive agencies are similarly exploring this important issue. As noted above, to help inform these efforts, the Federal Reserve plans to issue a discussion paper to solicit public comment on a range of questions related to payments, financial inclusion, data privacy, and information security, with regard to a CBDC in the U.S. context.17 The Federal Reserve remains committed to ensuring a safe, inclusive, efficient, and innovative payments system that works for all Americans.


1. I am grateful to Alexandra Fernandez, Sonja Danburg, David Mills, and David Pope of the Federal Reserve Board for their assistance in preparing this text. These are my own views and do not necessarily reflect those of the Federal Reserve Board or the Federal Open Market Committee. Return to text

2. See Jerome Powell, “Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell Outlines the Federal Reserve’s Response to Technological Advances Driving Rapid Change in the Global Payments Landscape,” Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System news release, May 20, 2021. Return to text

3. See Lael Brainard, “The Digitalization of Payments and Currency: Some Issues for Consideration,” remarks at the Symposium on the Future of Payments, Stanford University, California, February 5, 2021. Return to text

4. See, for instance, Joshua R. Greenberg, Bank Notes and Shinplasters: The Rage for Paper Money in the Early Republic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020). Return to text

5. Codruta Boar and Róbert Szemere, “Payments go (even more) digital” (Basel: Bank for International Settlements, January 2021). Return to text

6. Kelsey Coyle, Laura Kim, and Shaun O’Brien, Consumer Payments and the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Second Supplement to the 2020 Findings from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice (San Francisco: Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, February 2021). Return to text

7. Marie-Hélène Felt, Fumiko Hayashi, Joanna Stavins, and Angelika Welte, Distributional Effects of Payment Card Pricing and Merchant Cost Pass-through in the United States and Canada (PDF), Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Research Department Working Papers No. 20-13 (Boston: FRB Boston, 2020). Return to text

8. See Bank for International Settlements, Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures, Enhancing cross-border payments: building blocks of a global roadmap Stage 2 report to the G20 (PDF) (Basel: BIS, July 2020); and Financial Stability Board, Enhancing Cross-border Payments: Stage 3 Roadmap (PDF) (Washington: FSB, October 13, 2020). Return to text

9. Christian Pfister, Monetary Policy and Digital Currencies: Much Ado about Nothing? (PDF) Banque de France Working Paper 642 (Paris: Banque de France, 2017). Return to text

10. John Barrdear and Michael Kumhof, The Macroeconomics of Central Bank Issued Digital Currencies, Bank of England Working Paper No. 605 (London: BOE, July 18, 2016), https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2811208. Return to text

11. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, How America Banks: Household Use of Banking and Financial Services (Washington: FDIC, October 19, 2020); and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households (Washington: FDIC, 2017). Return to text

12. See, for instance the Bank On National Account Standards, https://2wvkof1mfraz2etgea1p8kiy-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Bank-On-National-Account-Standards-2021-2022.pdf. Return to text

13. See Jesse Leigh Maniff, Inclusion by Design: Crafting a Central Bank Digital Currency to Reach All Americans, (PDF) Payments System Research Briefing, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City (Kansas City: FRB Kansas, December 2, 2020); and John Crawford, Lev Menand, and Morgan Ricks, “FedAccounts: Digital Dollars,” (PDF) George Washington Law Review, Vol. 89, p. 113, January 28, 2021. Return to text

14. For more information, see the Federal Reserve Community Reinvestment Act Proposed Rulemaking at https://www.federalreserve.gov/consumerscommunities/community-reinvestment-act-proposed-rulemaking.htmReturn to text

15. Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, “New Committee to Advance Safe, Efficient, Inclusive Payments,” news release, May 12, 2021. Return to text

16. See Eric Rosengren, “Central Bank Perspectives on Central Bank Digital Currencies,” remarks at the panel discussion of the Program on International Financial Systems, Harvard Law School, May 12, 2021, ; Jim S. Cunha, “Boston Fed’s Digital Dollar Research Project Honors 2 Hamiltons, Alexander and Margaret,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, February 25, 2021; and Lael Brainard, “An Update on Digital Currencies,” remarks at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Innovation Office Hours, August 13, 2020. Return to text

17. See Jerome Powell, “Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell Outlines the Federal Reserve’s Response to Technological Advances Driving Rapid Change in the Global Payments Landscape,” Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System news release, May 20, 2021.

Bank of England statement on Central Bank Digital Currency

The Bank of England and HM Treasury have today announced the joint creation of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) Taskforce to coordinate the exploration of a potential UK CBDC.

The Bank of England and HM Treasury have today announced the joint creation of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) Taskforce to coordinate the exploration of a potential UK CBDC. A CBDC would be a new form of digital money issued by the Bank of England and for use by households and businesses. It would exist alongside cash and bank deposits, rather than replacing them.

The Government and the Bank of England have not yet made a decision on whether to introduce a CBDC in the UK, and will engage widely with stakeholders on the benefits, risks and practicalities of doing so.

The Taskforce aims to ensure a strategic approach is adopted between the UK authorities as they explore CBDC, in line with their statutory objectives, and to promote close coordination between them. The Taskforce will:

  • Coordinate exploration of the objectives, use cases, opportunities and risks of a potential UK CBDC.
  • Guide evaluation of the design features a CBDC must display to achieve our goals.
  • Support a rigorous, coherent and comprehensive assessment of the overall case for a UK CBDC.
  • Monitor international CBDC developments to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of global innovation.

The Taskforce will be co-chaired by Deputy Governor for Financial Stability at the Bank of England, Jon Cunliffe, and HM Treasury’s Director General of Financial Services, Katharine Braddick. As appropriate other UK authorities will be involved in the Taskforce.

The Bank of England has also today announced the creation of the following:

  • CBDC Engagement Forum to engage senior stakeholders and gather strategic input on all non-technology aspects of CBDC. The Forum will have an important role in helping the Bank and HM Treasury understand the practical challenges of designing, implementing and operating a CBDC. It will consider issues such as – but not limited to – ‘use cases’ for CBDC, functional needs of CBDC users, roles of public and private sectors in a CBDC system, financial & digital inclusion considerations, and data & privacy implications. Members will be drawn from financial institutions, civil society groups, merchants, business users and consumers.
  • CBDC Technology Forum to engage stakeholders and gather input on all technology aspects of CBDC from a diverse cross-section of expertise and perspectives. The Forum will have an important role in helping the Bank to understand the technological challenges of designing, implementing and operating a CBDC. Members will be invited by the Bank and drawn from a range of financial institutions, academia, fintechs, infrastructure providers and technology firms.

The Bank of England has also announced it will establish a CBDC Unit. This new division of the Bank of England will lead its internal exploration around CBDC. It will also lead the Bank’s external engagement on CBDC, including with other UK and international authorities. The Deputy Governor for Financial Stability, Jon Cunliffe, will oversee the work of the CBDC Unit.

Turkey Bans Cryptocurrencies for Payments

Turkey’s central bank (CBRT) in a surprising move, banned the use of all cryptocurrencies and digital assets to payments for services and goods, citing possible damage and significant transaction risks.

CBRT said that digital assets based on distributed ledger technology (DLT) could not be used, directly or indirectly, as an instrument of payment in any business in Turkey.

Turkey’s Central Bank said that the cryptocurrencies prohibition had been introduced because digital assets are not regulated or supervised, their prices are very volatile, electronic wallets can be stolen and might be used in illegal transactions. Turkish watchdog has long pointed to cryptocurrencies use in illegal activities as a reason to be cautious on any exposure in the crypto industry.

Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies penetration in Turkey is very high. Turkish investors turn to digital assets such as Bitcoin and Ethereum and run away from the troubled Turkish lira (TRY) as they are looking for a hedge against the rising inflation in the country.

Bitcoin is under heavy selling pressure after the news and as of writing, BTCUSD is 4.43% lower at $60490 while Ethereum (ETHUSD) is 5.31% lower at $2370.

Meanwhile the USDTRY is trading 0.53% higher at 8.062 close to monthly lows for the pair.

Panetta: A digital euro to meet the expectations of Europeans

Introductory remarks by Fabio Panetta, Member of the Executive Board of the ECB, at the ECON Committee of the European Parliament

Frankfurt am Main, 14 April 2021

Madam Chair, honourable members of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs,

Let me start by thanking you for inviting me to report on the outcome of the ECB’s public consultation on a digital euro. We are publishing our analysis of the responses we received on our website today.

A digital euro can only be successful if it meets the needs and expectations of European citizens. This is why our consultation will provide valuable input for the Eurosystem’s decision – this summer – on whether we should start a digital euro project. The consultation will also inform future work on the design of a digital euro if a project is launched.

For the participants in the public consultation, the most important features of a digital euro are privacy, security and broad usability. In my remarks today, I will discuss how we can meet their expectations. But first let me share with you the main findings from our consultation.

Main findings from the ECB’s public consultation

We received more than 8,000 replies, an all-time record for ECB public consultations. The overwhelming majority of the responses came from citizens, while 460 were from businesses and professionals in the payments sector.

The consultation was open to everyone, and participants contributed on their own initiative. This means that the sample of respondents is not statistically representative of the European population. Nonetheless, the breadth and depth of the responses offer valuable insights.

Our report discusses the results in detail. Today I will therefore simply highlight the key findings.

Privacy was considered to be the most important feature of a digital euro in about 43% of replies. Nevertheless, respondents recognise the need for the digital euro to have features that prevent illicit activities like money laundering or terrorist financing. Other important characteristics include the possibility of using the digital euro for secure payments (ranked first by 18% of the respondents), throughout the entire euro area (emphasised by 11% of the respondents), without additional costs and offline (underlined by 9% and 8% of the respondents respectively).

Citizens and professionals agree that a digital euro should be integrated into existing payment infrastructures. The vast majority of respondents believe that banks, payment institutions and other intermediaries have an important role to play in providing services related to a digital euro. They suggest, for example, that a digital euro should be integrated with mobile and online payments and banking services. They expect the additional services that would build on the basic payment functionalities of a digital euro to trigger innovation and efficiency. A sizeable share of participants also highlight that the digital euro should make cross-border payments faster and less costly. And more than half of respondents are willing to test, adopt or contribute to the design of a digital euro in order to make it an effective means of payment.

Privacy first

As I have already mentioned, privacy emerges as the most important feature of a digital euro. Protecting users’ personal data and ensuring a high level of confidentiality will therefore be a priority in our work, so that the digital euro can help maintain trust in payments in the digital age.

At the ECB we started to explore privacy in digital payments early in our work on a central bank digital currency, and we will continue to do so through further analyses. The results of our technical experimentations are available on our website and summarised in to my remarks today.

Let me emphasise, first of all, that a digital euro would in fact increase privacy in digital payments. As a public and independent institution, the ECB has no interest in monetising or even collecting users’ payment data. A digital euro would therefore allow people to make payments without sharing their data with third parties, other than what is required by regulation. This differs from private payments, where services are generally offered in exchange for personal data that are then used for commercial purposes.

Privacy is an important prerogative because it influences people’s personal lives and fundamental rights. It must nonetheless be carefully assessed against other important considerations in the general interest. Digital euro payments could guarantee different degrees of privacy, involving different trade-offs with other policy and regulatory objectives such as the need to combat illicit activities. Such trade-offs also characterise traditional means of payment, which provide various degrees of privacy, ranging from anonymity for cash payments to full disclosure for digital transactions that require documentary verification and monitoring of operations.

In theory, digital euro payments could be anonymous if users’ identities were not verified when they access digital euro services. But this anonymity would provide fertile ground for unlawful activities and could prevent compliance with regulations on anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism.

Anonymity would also prevent limits being imposed on the use of digital euro when necessary – for example to safeguard financial stability and banking intermediation by preventing excessive capital flows or excessive use of the digital euro as a form of investment.

Even if users have to identify themselves when they first access digital euro services, different degrees of privacy can still be maintained for their payments. Certain transactions could be conducted without the payment details being shared with third parties. For example, if low-value offline payments were offered, they could be settled between the payer and payee without any data being shared with intermediaries.

For electronic and large-value transactions, details should be available to intermediaries. But privacy enhancing techniques could still ensure a high level of privacy. For example, the identity of users could be kept separate from payment data, allowing only financial intelligence units to obtain this information and identify the payer and payee when suspicious activity is detected.

Our preliminary experimentation on a digital euro is showing promising results on how technology can be used to protect user privacy without relaxing standards against illicit activities.

But there could also be cases where transparency of payments would be in the interest of consumers. For example, it may be necessary to verify a payment after it has been conducted to prove that the transaction took place or if a refund is required. In any event, cash would remain available alongside a digital euro. Consumers would be able to continue to make anonymous payments with banknotes, if they wish to do so.

We will take all these factors into consideration as we continue our work and seek the views of stakeholders to find the right balance. This includes maintaining a close dialogue on the implications of potentially issuing a digital euro and the framework that would be needed to do so with the legislators and institutions that set the rules on privacy and data protection.

A digital euro as a new and secure payment solution

The security and usability of the digital euro are also particularly important for prospective users.

Electronic payments are becoming increasingly popular, so a digital euro would ensure that sovereign money – a public good that central banks have been offering to citizens for centuries – remains available in the digital era. People could have full confidence in both the digital euro and cash, since they are both backed by a credible central bank. This is a unique feature that no private payment scheme can provide.

Let me emphasise, once again, that a digital euro would not mean the end of cash. It would complement cash, not replace it. In doing so, a digital euro would contribute to a more diverse payments landscape, giving people greater choice in how they pay. This is also why the digital euro cannot and will not be a tool used to impose negative remuneration on money. If digital euro holdings were to be remunerated, the remuneration of individuals’ holdings for basic retail use would not go below zero. And effective choices on the design of a digital euro would eliminate risks to financial stability and banking intermediation.

A digital euro would encourage further innovation and digitalisation in retail payments. Supervised intermediaries such as banks and payment institutions could build on the digital euro to offer additional services to end users. Respondents to our consultation expect the digital euro to foster the provision of services that add value, like those covered by the revised Payment Services Directive and those that could offer the possibility of linking a payment to an external condition.

We are currently focusing on domestic needs in the euro area. But a digital euro could also help to address inefficiencies in cross-currency and cross-border payments. We are working with other major central banks to reap the potential benefits of digital currencies at the global level. We want to gain a better understanding of the implications of different types of central bank digital currencies while controlling the possible risks to both domestic and foreign economies.

Conclusion

Let me conclude. The record level of participation in our public consultation and the willingness of citizens and professionals to support a digital euro are encouraging. Their responses show the high expectations that prospective users have for a digital euro and provide valuable input for our work.

We are treating this matter with priority and will move as rapidly as possible. But we also need to take the time to do it right. In the coming months, the ECB’s Governing Council will decide whether to start a formal investigation phase on a digital euro.

In such a phase, we would carefully analyse possible design options and user requirements as well as the conditions under which financial intermediaries could provide front-end services built on a digital euro. We expect this analysis to take around two years.

At the end of the investigation, the Governing Council would take a decision on the design and on whether to move to the implementation of user requirements. This phase, which would take several years, would see the development of integrated services, testing and possible live experimentation of a digital euro.

Only at the end of this process would the Governing Council be able to decide whether or not to launch a digital euro. We will do our best to ensure that a digital euro meets the needs and expectations of Europeans.

But it can only be a common European enterprise. The alignment of European authorities and institutions, mindful of their respective mandates and independence, will be key if a digital euro is to be accepted. I am therefore pleased to see that this Committee welcomed our work in its recent resolutions on the ECB Annual Report and the international role of the euro.

As co-legislators and representatives of Europeans, you have a fundamental role to play in the discussions on the framework that would be needed to issue a digital euro. This is why I very much appreciate exchanges like the one today.

Puremarkets Announces Exploration of Trading and Digital Asset Innovation with State Street and Currenex

Puremarkets Limited (“Puremarkets” branded as Pure Digital), a company where Arcane Crypto AB (“Arcane”) holds 37.5% through Arcane Crypto AS, today publicly announced that State Street’s Currenex (“Currenex”) have entered into an agreement to provide the trading infrastructure to the Pure Digital platform. In addition State Street Bank & Trust Company and Puremarkets intend to explore the digital currency trading space via the Pure Digital platform based on an existing LOI between the parties.

Currenex is a market-leading technology provider offering high-performance technology for anonymous and disclosed trade execution. The agreement with Currenex enables rapid set-up of the Pure Digital platform and trading is expected to commence in 2021.

The Pure Digital trading platform will be the first of its kind, offering a wholesale interbank market for Tier 1 investment banks to trade bitcoin and other digital assets. Pure Digital is in discussions with several other Tier 1 investment banks to use the platform, which will provide a high throughput OTC market for digital assets and cryptocurrencies with physical delivery and bank custody.

“It is an important step for Pure Digital that one of the leading banks in the world is now publicly declaring their support for Pure Digital. We believe this will help Pure Digital accelerate their development. That Currenex will provide the technology platform is also important. Currenex is a company and an infrastructure that most of the leading banks in the world already are familiar with and trust. This could further speed up the process of attracting other Tier 1 banks.

Institutional trading is the final frontier for the institutional adoption of cryptocurrencies and Arcane is excited to be a part of that with Pure Digital. Pure Digital leverages an experienced team from the FX industry across sales, trading and product development and a proven track record, delivering a similar platform for banks trading FX.”

– Torbjørn Bull Jenssen, CEO of Arcane Crypto

Lauren Kiley, the CEO of Pure Digital commented:

“We are very excited to announce State Street’s involvement in this initiative. They are exploring digital asset trading with us and also providing the technology as we prepare to bring the institutional market exactly what it needs.”

– Lauren Kiley, CEO of Pure Digital

Campbell Adams, the Founder of Pure Digital added:

“This is a significant and important step for the digital currency space. Pure Digital has purposefully built an ecosystem on next generation components throughout the full trade cycle with many important developments to come.”

– Campbell Adams, Founder of Pure Digital

The full press release from Puremarkets can be found https://puredigitalmarkets.com/3014-2/

About Pure Digital

Pure Digital is an interbank marketplace for cryptocurrency price discovery and exchange of wholesale risk provided by Puremarkets. Pure Digital will provide a best-in-class primary institutional marketplace, with a consortium of banks as liquidity providers, custodians, and clearers. Expect meaningful trade size along with price granularity and transparency. The solution uniquely offers pre-trade bilateral credit and multi/smart custody. Pure Digital will also feature the ability for banks to select their counterparties, enabling compliance over geographies with different regulatory environments. The management team bring many years of experience at top tier banks and have successfully delivered a similar platform for the FX market.

The trading environment is currently in beta testing for selected customers of the banks which have signed, or are in the process of signing, LOIs with Pure Digital.

An important next step for Pure Digital is the banks going public with their support for the platform and thereby creating increased interest and market awareness about Pure Digital’s offering.

For further information about Puremarkets and the Pure Digital platform please see: https://puredigitalmarkets.com/

About Arcane Crypto

Arcane Crypto develops and invests in projects, focusing on bitcoin and digital assets. Arcane operates a portfolio of businesses, spanning the value chain for digital finance. As a group we deliver services targeting payments, investment, and trading. In addition, we have a media and research division.

Arcane has the ambition to become a leading player in the digital assets space by growing the existing businesses, invest in cutting edge projects, and through acquisitions and consolidation.

The Company is listed on Nasdaq First North Growth Market and Mangold Fondkommission is Certified Adviser, tel. +46 8 5030 1550, e-mail: ca@mangold.se, web: www.mangold.se.

UNICEF launches Cryptocurrency Fund

UN Children’s agency becomes first UN Organization to hold and make transactions in cryptocurrency

UNICEF will now be able to receive, hold and disburse donations of cryptocurrencies ether and bitcoin, through its newly-established UNICEF Cryptocurrency Fund. In a first for United Nations organizations, UNICEF will use cryptocurrencies to fund open source technology benefiting children and young people around the world. 

Under the structure of the UNICEF Cryptocurrency Fund, contributions will be held in their cryptocurrency of contribution, and granted out in the same cryptocurrency.     

“This is a new and exciting venture for UNICEF,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “If digital economies and currencies have the potential to shape the lives of coming generations, it is important that we explore the opportunities they offer. That’s why the creation of our Cryptocurrency Fund is a significant and welcome step forward in humanitarian and development work.”

The first contributions to the UNICEF Cryptocurrency Fund will be received from the Ethereum Foundation and will benefit three grantees of the UNICEF Innovation Fund – and a project coordinated by the GIGA initiative to connect schools across the world to the internet.

“The Ethereum Foundation is excited to demonstrate the power of what Ethereum and blockchain technology can do for communities around the world. Together with UNICEF, we’re taking action with the Cryptofund to improve access to basic needs, rights, and resources,” said Aya Miyaguchi, Executive Director of the Ethereum Foundation. “We aim to support the research and development of the Ethereum platform, and to grow the community of those that benefit from a technology that will better countless lives and industries in the years to come. We’d like to thank UNICEF and the UNICEF family of national committees for their leadership as we create real progress together.”

The Ethereum Foundation will make its initial donation through the French National Committee for UNICEF.

UNICEF national committees of USA, Australia and New Zealand also accept cryptocurrency.

The launch of the UNICEF Cryptocurrency Fund is part of UNICEF’s ongoing work with blockchain technology. UNICEF co-leads the UN Innovation Network with WFP. The network is responsible for researching the potential and pitfalls of blockchain and other emerging technologies. 

CME Group to Launch Micro Bitcoin Futures on May 3

CME Group, the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, today announced it will expand its suite of crypto derivatives with the introduction of a new Micro Bitcoin futures contract on May 3, pending regulatory review.

Micro Bitcoin futures will be one-tenth the size of one bitcoin. The smaller-sized contract  will provide market participants – from institutions to sophisticated, active, individual traders – with one more tool to hedge their spot bitcoin price risk or execute bitcoin trading strategies in an efficient, cost-effective way, all while retaining the features and benefits of CME Group’s standard Bitcoin futures.

“Since the launch of our Bitcoin futures contract in 2017, we have seen steady, ongoing growth of liquidity and market participation in our crypto derivatives, especially among institutional traders,” said Tim McCourt, CME Group Global Head of Equity Index and Alternative Investment Products. “The introduction of Micro Bitcoin futures responds directly to demand for smaller-sized contracts from a broad array of clients and will offer even more choice and precision in how participants can trade regulated Bitcoin futures in a transparent and efficient manner at CME Group.”

Micro Bitcoin futures will join CME Group’s growing suite of cryptocurrency derivatives, including Bitcoin futures and options and recently launched Ether futures. In 2021-to-date, 13,800 CME Bitcoin futures contracts (equivalent to about 69,000 bitcoin) have traded on average each day. In addition, CME Ether futures have seen 767 contracts traded (equivalent to 38,400 ether) on average each day since launched on February 8.

The new contract will be cash-settled, based on the CME CF Bitcoin Reference Rate, which serves as a once-a-day reference rate of the U.S. dollar price of bitcoin. Micro Bitcoin futures will be listed on and subject to the rules of CME.  

For more information on this product, please see: www.cmegroup.com/microbitcoin.

As the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, CME Group (www.cmegroup.com) enables clients to trade futures, options, cash and OTC markets, optimize portfolios, and analyze data – empowering market participants worldwide to efficiently manage risk and capture opportunities. CME Group exchanges offer the widest range of global benchmark products across all major asset classes based on interest rates, equity indexes, foreign exchange, energy, agricultural products and metals.  The company offers futures and options on futures trading through the CME Globex® platform, fixed income trading via BrokerTec and foreign exchange trading on the EBS platform. In addition, it operates one of the world’s leading central counterparty clearing providers, CME Clearing. With a range of pre- and post-trade products and services underpinning the entire lifecycle of a trade, CME Group also offers optimization and reconciliation services through TriOptima, and trade processing services through Traiana.

Federal Court Orders UK Man to Pay More Than $571 Million for Operating Fraudulent Bitcoin Trading Scheme

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission today announced that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York entered a default judgment against Benjamin Reynolds, purportedly of Manchester, England, finding that he operated a fraudulent scheme to solicit bitcoin from members of the public and misappropriated customers’ bitcoin. This case was brought in connection with the Division of Enforcement’s Digital Assets Task Force.

The court’s March 2, 2021 order requires Reynolds to pay nearly $143 million in restitution to defrauded customers and a civil monetary penalty of $429 million. The order also permanently enjoins Reynolds from engaging in conduct that violates the Commodity Exchange Act and CFTC regulations, registering with the CFTC, and trading in any CFTC-regulated markets.

The judgment is the result of a 2019 enforcement action brought by the CFTC charging Reynolds, conducting business as Control-Finance Limited, with fraud and misappropriation. [See CFTC Press Release No. 7938-19]

Case Background

Between May 2017 and October 2017, Reynolds used a public website, various social media accounts, and email communications to solicit at least 22,190.542 bitcoin, valued at approximately $143 million at the time, from more than 1,000 customers worldwide, including at least 169 individuals residing in the U.S. 

Among other things, Reynolds falsely represented to customers that Control-Finance traded their bitcoin deposits in virtual currency markets and employed specialized virtual currency traders who generated guaranteed trading profits for all customers. He also constructed an elaborate affiliate marketing network that relied on fraudulently promising to pay outsized referral profits, rewards, and bonuses to encourage customers to refer new customers to Control-Finance. In fact, Reynolds made no trades on customers’ behalf, earned no trading profits for them, and paid them no referral rewards or bonuses. While Reynolds represented that he would return all bitcoin deposits to customers of Control-Finance by late October 2017, he never did and instead retained the deposits for his own personal use. Customers lost most or all of their bitcoin deposits as a result of the scheme.

The CFTC cautions victims that restitution orders may not result in the recovery of any money lost because the wrongdoers may not have sufficient funds or assets. The CFTC will continue to fight vigorously for the protection of customers and to ensure wrongdoers are held accountable.

The CFTC appreciates the assistance of the British Columbia Securities Commission and the UK Financial Conduct Authority. 

The Division of Enforcement staff members responsible for this action are Dmitriy Vilenskiy, Kyong J. Koh, Julia C. Colarusso, Hillary Van Tassel, Jonah E. McCarthy, A. Daniel Ullman II, Luke B. Marsh, and Paul G. Hayeck. Additionally, Daniel J. Grimm and John Einstman contributed to the case while members of the Division of Enforcement. CFTC staff members, Christopher Giglio, Lauren Fulks, and Mary Lutz, also assisted in this matter.