Israel has a very special place in the world of technology. The Startup Nation is unsurprisingly home to some of the best cryptocurrency startups, so it also becomes an important nation to study if one wants to understand the global regulatory scenario of cryptocurrencies. So in this article we’re going to …
Israel has a very special place in the world of technology. The Startup Nation is unsurprisingly home to some of the best cryptocurrency startups, so it also becomes an important nation to study if one wants to understand the global regulatory scenario of cryptocurrencies. So in this article we’re going to do that. Let’s get stated:
Current Legal Status of Cryptocurrencies in Israel
Cryptocurrencies are legal in Israel for payments and trading both, but doing the former is not an easy job because country’s law doesn’t recognize them as ‘currencies’. Instead, Bitcoin and all other cryptos are treated as “assets” under Israeli law, which makes using them as means of payment more difficult. If any Israeli businesses receive payments in cryptocurrencies, they can’t report those transactions in their account books as ‘payment received’ transactions. Instead, those transaction will have to be reported as barter transactions, which would require extra paperwork.
Now as far as trading of cryptocurrencies is concerned, it’s permitted but with a steep price tag. Traders are required to pay 25% capital gains tax every time when they sell their crypto assets. Miners, businesses involved in cryptocurrency trading or individual traders who trade cryptocurrencies on a regular basis, on the other hand, are required to report profits and losses just like any normal business and pay Corporate Income Tax on their income. They also need to pay VAT at the rate of 17%.
Cryptocurrency Regulation in Israel: Recent Developments
Israeli cryptocurrency regulation story stared from December last year when country’s stock market regulator announced that it’s planning to de-list cryptocurrency companies from Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Critical decisions related to cryptocurrency regulation followed the announcement in order given below:
In January Bank of Israel (the central bank of country) announced that cryptocurrencies are assets, not currencies.
Soon Israel’s tax authority also echoed the words of Central bank and confirmed that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will be taxed as assetsinstead of currencies. Within five days country also started drafting the taxation rules for cryptocurrencies.
In February Israeli Tax Authority (ITA) revealed about the taxation rules officially for the first time, reiterating the factthat cryptocurrencies will be taxed just like any other assets at capital gains tax rate of 25% while businesses would be subject to marginal rate of 47%. The authority also instructed investors to report their holdings within 30 days and arrange for prepayment of taxes.
Finally, more clarification about the status of cryptocurrencies was provided by Israel Securities Authority (ISA) last month. ISA made it clearthat asset classification of cryptocurrencies doesn’t mean that they will be treated as securities. Instead, they’ll be considered “properties” unless they’re controlled by a centralized entity and are developed for the purpose of investment alone. Any cryptocurrency that is decentralized and has been developed for the purpose of consumption will not be considered a security, ISA said. Therefore, it became clear that according to Israeli law Bitcoin is a property instead of security.
Fortunately, Israeli legal authorities are also quite supportive of cryptocurrency companies as long as they don’t do anything illegal. In February country’s Supreme Court stopped Leumi Bank, one of the largest banks in Israel, from closing the account of a cryptocurrency exchange.
Future of Cryptocurrency Regulation in Israel
Since Israel has just announced its cryptocurrency taxation rules without any complicated regulatory mess, we can expect things to remain so in near future. In the long term they may also introduce a complete regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies as other countries are doing, but that will take some time. So for now Israeli regulatory climate is pretty stable and positive as long as you keep paying the hefty taxes.
I am excited to announce today that Basis (formerly Basecoin) has raised $133M in a private placement from Bain Capital Ventures, GV, Stanley Druckenmiller, Kevin Warsh, Lightspeed, Foundation Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Wing VC, NFX, Valor Capital, Zhenfund, INBlockchain, Ceyuan Ventures, …
ICOs and cryptocurrency startups have been slumping recently due to the bearish signs which were seen in the first quarter of 2018. However, Basis, a promising start-up, has broken that trend by raising over $133 Million U.S. in private funding.
A cryptocurrency startup by the name of Basis (formerly named Basecoin), has just announced that they have raised over $133 Million dollars in funding from well-known venture capitalist firms.
These firms include GV (Google Ventures), Andreessen Horowitz and Sky Capital just to name a few.
Nader Al-Naji, the CEO, and co-founder of Basis, announced on Medium:
I am excited to announce today that Basis (formerly Basecoin) has raised $133M in a private placement from Bain Capital Ventures, GV, Stanley Druckenmiller, Kevin Warsh, Lightspeed, Foundation Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Wing VC, NFX, Valor Capital, Zhenfund, INBlockchain, Ceyuan Ventures, Sky9 Capital, and many more.
However, reports indicate that Basis started their funding campaign as early as 2017, when cryptocurrencies really began to hit the mainstream.
Basis was founded by three Princeton graduates in hopes of creating a stablecoin which would help to bring stability to the cryptocurrency market.
A common theme seen with cryptocurrencies is their volatility and unpredictable price actions. This has created an environment where more conservative investors are wary of investing due to the higher levels of risk in comparison to stocks or bonds.
Compared to traditional equity markets, the cryptocurrency market often experiences higher levels of volatility, with 5 percent days being commonplace.
Al-Naji put it best:
The price volatility of cryptocurrencies is one of their biggest barriers to widespread adoption,
Surveys have found that one of the primary reasons why investors are unwilling to put money on the cryptocurrency space, is due to the high risk which they are known for. Since the start of 2017, Bitcoin has gone from $1000 to $20,000 and everywhere in between. Before mainstream adoption arrives, it makes sense that the cryptocurrency market will need to stabilize and find a solid ground as to become more appealing to traditional investors.
By introducing the Basis stablecoin, the Basis team hopes to create an environment where people are actually willing to spend cryptocurrencies instead of trading or ‘HODL’ing them as a store of value.
Basis plans on doing this by creating an algorithm based ‘central bank’ which would allow the value of the currency to inflate and deflate “just like a real currency.”
At the moment, it is unclear exactly how exactly they plan to accomplish this. Although seeing that they have support from leading VC funds, there is a high likelihood that they have promising prototypes which have impressed the eyes of investors.
But What Are Stablecoins?
Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies that use certain on-chain applications to help emulate prices of values that are not specific to the cryptocurrency market. Tether, the most prominent cryptocurrency by market-cap, links their token to the U.S. dollar, with the cryptocurrency trading at just around $1.00 U.S. at all times.
However, stablecoins can also be linked to other values, with some projects looking into linking the price of their stablecoin to gold and a variety of other assets.
The only requirement for stablecoins is that they are linked to a relatively stable asset, something that is often highly liquid and widely accepted. However, there was some news earlier this month, with a new cryptocurrency looking to be linked to Habanero peppers, this being a rare exception to the prior rule.
Stablecoins and their respective companies hope to provide the benefits of the transparent and decentralized blockchain while still holding value with a stable, digital asset.
Unlike, Tether, who has been under fire due to transparency issues, Basis hopes to become the future of stablecoins, which will help propel them to become a larger financial player, in the ever-growing cryptocurrency space. Despite this previous goal, Basis hopes to go even further by reaching beyond the cryptocurrency space to become a source of financial stability all across the world’s markets.
The CEO of Basis stated:
We believe Basis can help solve this problem of currency instability for people in the developing world. By providing anyone with an internet connection access to a stable and secure medium of exchange for the first time, we believe Basis can significantly increase the efficiency of the economies of developing nations.
How will Basis fare against established stablecoins like DAI and Tether? What will make this different than other Stablecoins? Please let us know in the comment section.
Mineable cryptocurrencies have more than 71% of market value of the top cryptocurrencies . Key players for the ecosystem are miners, developers, decentralized applications (DApps), companies and users leveraging cryptocurrencies as a store or exchange of value. This ecosystem is great, except …
Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash
Proof of work (POW) is data that is costly and time-consuming to produce but easy for others to verify. The Bitcoin POW mechanism is so costly that it consumes the same amount of electricity it takes to power a country like Switzerland in one year. Bitcoin’s current estimated annual electricity consumption is 61.4 TWh, which is also equivalent to 1.5% of the electricity consumed in the United States.
EOS, another cryptocurrency, is leading the way to fix that, but let’s first dive into issues with POW.
Miners contribute computing power (hashes)to the network, which essentially means one hash = one chance. In order for participants to stand a chance to be rewarded, they will contribute a large amount of computing power with hardware setups (mining rigs) to solve cryptographic puzzles. The mechanism for POW introduced qualified voters in a system of anonymous and untrusting parties.
Most non-mineable cryptocurrencies use forms of the proof-of-stake (POS) mechanism. With POS, one coin is equivalent to one chance. In order for anyone to control the network, they will need to own more than 51% of the coins. Anyone can obtain rewards from the network for staking their coins, with some additional factors such as length of time they have staked and so on.
With POS, owners avoid the necessity of spending on items such as mining rigs, constraining all spending within the purchase and use of the cryptocurrency itself; the value does not seep out of the cryptocurrency space into fiat. However, while the POS mechanism enables holders to be rewarded, it does not encourage the actual use of the cryptocurrency because of the rewards for staking the tokens, defeating the purpose of it being a currency in the first place.
There is a risk of central control through rewarding initial large holders of coins who stake significant amounts, as in the Bitcoin network where large mining pools control most of the hash power. While POS is starting to prove itself as a viable alternative to the POW consensus mechanism, it still faces some unique challenges.
DPOS As A Democracy: The EOS Example
One of the top 10 cryptocurrencies is EOS, which employs the delegated proof-of-stakemechanism. In this system, one coin = one vote for selecting a certain number of delegates (called block producers). Only voted block producers will be allowed to produce blocks and be rewarded by the network. Voting power in this case is equivalent to the number of coins that voters hold.
With the DPOS-related mechanisms, human judgement is used in the selection of block producers. While selection can be purely based on the ability to produce blocks, there will be other factors that voters will look to in judging votes. The block producer candidacy battles can be likened to the U.S. election system or the feudal China kingdom battles (see“Romance of the 21 EOS Kingdoms”for further analysis of the complexities of the block producer battle).
In the case of EOS, one of the block producer candidates — the EOS New York team, has shared their governance structure to create value for the community. They have also shared their plans for various efforts around the core pillars of Community & Education, and Operations & Technology for the next year. Block producers are incentivized to provide value beyond their capabilities as infrastructure providers.
Scaling Projects Sustainably
Blockchain companies are innovating in order to keep up with the new torrent of cryptocurrencies with POS variant consensus mechanisms. Spencer Yang, VP International ofCobo Walletshared that “with the surge of cryptocurrencies adopting POS or DPOS mechanisms, Cobo wallet has moved to enable users to participate in staking or voting directly within one app. For example, we allow users to stake their cryptocurrencies like LBTC, EOS, DASH and XZC by pooling together in a concerted way through our platform. This is something that will only increase in demand as more projects move to adopt POS.” The interesting twist is that Cobo’s co-founder Shenyu is the founder ofF2pool, one of the largest cryptocurrency POW-mining pools in the world.
In the blockchain era, teams and companies not only have to focus on building a great product, but to enable their products to scale for usability and adoptability as well. These consensus mechanisms introduce new ways for the community to participate and develop the ecosystem, shaping the future of consensus in a more sustainable manner. Perhaps, the best judge of the POS cryptocurrencies in question will be in the size and strength of the networks they now command. 2018 will definitely be an interesting year, with the launch of EOS.IO and other projects on the horizon.
We are all hanging on the edge of our seats to see if the historical 70/30 ratio of POW Vs. POS coins can be reversed this year.
One section discusses Russia-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Labs, whose products the U.S. government banned after ties were discovered between the company and Russian intelligence, and Kaspersky anti-virus software was exploited by the Russian government to steal data from an NSA …
A study commissioned by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission warns that the U.S. federal government is highly vulnerable to espionage or cyber attack due to its dependence on Chinese electronics and computer software.
The study concerns “supply chain risk management,” which essentially means making the U.S. government less dependent on cheap electronic products from potentially hostile countries.
“The supply chain threat to U.S. national security stems from products produced, manufactured, or assembled by entities that owned, directed, or subsidized by national governments or entities known to pose a potential supply chain or intelligence threat to the United States, including China,” as the report puts it.
Such products could be modified to perform poorly, create security vulnerabilities for foreign intelligence and espionage teams, or compromise the security of federal information technology systems in a variety of ways. The report anticipates the threat will become much worse with the adoption of new networking technology such as the ultra-high-speed 5G mobile network and “Internet of Things” smart devices.
The report notes that China achieved its key position in the information and communications technology supply chain very deliberately, as a matter of state national security policy, strong-arming and looting foreign companies to obtain the technology it desired.
“New policies requiring companies to surrender source code, store data on servers based in China, invest in Chinese companies, and allow the Chinese government to conduct security audits on their products open federal ICT providers – and the federal ICT networks they supply – to Chinese cyber espionage efforts and intellectual property theft,” cautions the report.
“China also continues to target U.S. government contractors and other private sector entities as part of its efforts to gain economic advantage and pursue other state goals,” it adds.
The report notes that tracing the supply line for electronic components is very difficult, as components can flow across national borders during various stages of production. Completed electronic items can then bounce between distribution centers in different countries before landing in retail stores or arriving at government IT departments. Every link in these incredibly complex supply chains could introduce security vulnerabilities, or become a pressure point for an aggressor like China seeking to interrupt the U.S. supply of essential information technology.
To put this advisory another way, if China has deliberately created security vulnerabilities in some electronic components, there is almost no way to tell which devices will be at risk of security penetration or orchestrated failure on the day Beijing decides to exploit those vulnerabilities. On a less apocalyptic scale, China can exert tremendous influence over foreign companies by threatening to shut down their supply of essential components.
In a grim twist, the report notes that China used the disclosure of classified American documents by Edward Snowden in 2013 to argue that American technology firms were sinister agents of influence that had “seamlessly penetrated” Chinese society. These allegations were then used as an excuse to bully American tech companies and develop the supply chain influence that makes China such a threat to U.S. information security today.
China is not just using draconian regulations to hamper foreign competition, steal their trade secrets, and give Chinese firms a competitive advantage. China’s regulations force American companies to “surrender source code, proprietary business information, and security information to the Chinese government,” which makes them vulnerable to “Chinese cyber espionage efforts.”
This vulnerability is not purely theoretical. The report recalls that 34 U.S. companies were hit by Chinese cyber attacks in 2010 that appear to have exploited flaws in the Microsoft Internet Explorer, whose source code was surrendered to the Chinese government in 2003. The 2010 attack wave was, in turn, designed to steal source code from the targeted companies.
Since those very same companies are major providers to the U.S. federal government, those vulnerabilities are passed along to Uncle Sam like a contagious disease. The companies attacked in 2010 included Google, Adobe, Yahoo, and Northrop Grumman, all major providers to the federal government.
The report is not exclusively focused on China. One section discusses Russia-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Labs, whose products the U.S. government banned after ties were discovered between the company and Russian intelligence, and Kaspersky anti-virus software was exploited by the Russian government to steal data from an NSA contractor’s computer. Government-connected firms in Israel are more vaguely described as a potential danger to the information technology supply chain.
As for recommendations moving forward, the report somewhat glumly concedes that changing the information technology supply chain is basically impossible at this point, so the U.S. government is best advised to centralize risk management efforts, demand greater transparency from providers, do what it can to reduce dependency on problematic sources like China, clean up the “conflicting and confusing laws and regulations” currently governing risk management, and use the appropriations process to ensure that only projects with high-security standards are funded.
“They are doing it. We’re not even making it difficult right now,” chief executive Jennifer Bisceglie of study authors Interos Solutions told the Washington Post, referring to Chinese efforts to “seed U.S. government offices with spyware and electronic back doors.”
“The problem is growing in magnitude. We don’t have a plan to address China’s increasing role on the world stage and its plan to dominate ICT,” Michael Wessel of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission added.
To be brutally honest, the recommendations at the end of the Interos Solutions study do not seem equal to the magnitude of the dangers described in the preceding pages. If China secures the dominant position it desires in next-generation technologies like 5G wireless and artificial intelligence, there might never be a way to reach an acceptable level of data security and supply chain protection.
The development of blockchain technology is currently hindered by numerous stumbling points, including a lack of scalability, consumer-friendliness, and interoperability. The next wave of projects, coined “blockchain 3.0”, aim to address these shortcomings and allow blockchain technology to fuel …
The development of blockchain technology is currently hindered by numerous stumbling points, including a lack of scalability, consumer-friendliness, and interoperability. The next wave of projects, coined “blockchain 3.0”, aim to address these shortcomings and allow blockchain technology to fuel business processes across diverse industries.
What is Nebulas?
Nebulas is a Blockchain 3.0 project from the founder and developers of NEO. Promising smart contracts without scaling worries, the second layer of blockchain protocols that incorporate a massive range of tools and options, and search engine functionality, Nebulas is a highly innovative project.
The Nebulas platform will integrate a blockchain search engine to index and rank its Dapps, smart contracts, and data, as well as external blockchains.
The Nebulas vision has earned the project the enigmatic title ‘The Google of Blockchain,’ which makes it a unique proposition in cryptocurrency that will become even more pertinent should projects like MaidSafe succeed and internet infrastructure is rebuilt in a more decentralized way.
Since the Nebulas token sale in early December, the project has captured a significant amount of investor attention. Launching at an ICO price of $2, the Nebulas token took off in January and escaped the realms of earthbound coins to reach a high point over fifteen dollars.
The recent market downturn has sent Nebulas tumbling back down, but it has still maintained much of its value in bitcoin, and currently sits around 75,000 sats. Nebulas has experienced significant growth due to the launch of the Nebulas mainnet, which occurred recently at the new NAS center in San Francisco.
How Nebulas Works: A Technical Teardown
The ambitions of the Nebulas project might be lofty, but the Nebulas whitepaper is watertight, as one Facebook engineer commented after Nebulas CTO Robin Zhong’s private TED talk:
“I studied Nebulas’ technical white paper for days before I came here […] Nebulas has one the most solid white papers I’ve ever seen in blockchain startups.”
Similar to Ethereum, the NAS token is used as a ‘gas’ for smart contracts, a currency and as proof of devotion rewards. Just like Ethereum, Nebulas is capable of supporting the issuance of tokens and running smart contracts.
Nebulas’ innovation puts them in a different league to even the most progressive of other ‘Blockchain 3.0’ projects, like EOS and Cardano.
Nebulas have identified three principles to overcome the core challenges facing blockchain, and are building a system that is value-ranking, self-evolving and has a native incentive.
These principles manifest through the Nebulas framework, which consists of five technical concepts that underpin the vision:
Nebulas are building a metric for a universal measure of value to rank applications on the blockchain. The open source core ranking algorithm uses on-chain transaction records as source data to rank addresses, smart contracts, decentralized applications (Dapps) and other entities on the blockchain according to liquidity, propagation of users’ assets, and the interactivity between users.
This ranking system allows Nebulas to act as a search engine that can sift through the index of smart contracts and dApps.
Nebulas has captured attention for its ‘self-evolving’’ capabilities that mean no hard forks will take place. This is achieved through Nebulas Force, which uses a low-level virtual machine to create a new sub-chain for experimenting with different innovations.
If changes on the subchain are successful, then they can be voted onto the main chain. This means developers can make changes, incorporate new technologies, and fix bugs without needing to hard fork.
Developer Incentive Protocol (DIP)
Developers whose smart contracts and DApps deploy online in the most recent interval with an NR value higher than a specified threshold are rewarded with corresponding developer incentives. This process designed is to create a positive feedback loop that motivates developers to create high quality distributed applications.
Proof of Devotion
Nebulas are developing a unique consensus algorithm, ‘Proof of Devotion,’ that is a hybrid of Proof of Importance and Proof of Stake. The Proof of Devotion consensus algorithm allows for better economic incentives for developers through a function called bookkeeping.
If a developer creates a dApp that is performing well on the Nebulas network, they will have the option to contribute to the network by validating submitted transactions and, in return, will receive token rewards from the blockchain to incentivize app development on Nebulas rather than other platforms like Ethereum.
Other Standout Features
The Nebulas Wormhole is key to interoperability — it will allow data and assets to be exchanged across side chains and between side chains and the main blockchain.
Lightning Network Wallet
Nebulas are one of the first blockchain projects to implement Lightning Network in their wallet, allowing users to “swap” NAS for any coin with Lightning Network functionality.
The Nebulas team have just launched Mainnet 1.0, the ‘eagle nebula’ — described by founder Hitters Xu as “a significant step forward for blockchain’s ecosystem.
The mainnet launch was preceded by a Twitter countdown, a Reddit AMA with Hitters, and an additional tech AMA with co-founder Robin Zhong that saw the community explore the technicalities of what Nebulas is aiming to achieve.
The Nebulas team are also active on other platforms such as Medium, where transparent weekly reports from the team are regularly published — detailing the progress of the project and lending more credence to its ambitious vision.
Hitters also revealed in the Reddit AMA that the team plans to launch a brand new web page called “Go Nebulas,” which aims to provide more opportunities for community members to get involved:
“Nebulas comes from the community and serves for the community, so we pay much attention on community building. We attach significant importance to the interaction with our community.”
Who is Behind Nebulas?
The Nebulas team consist of developers from Google and Ali Baba, alongside two of the co-founders of NEO. The team is led by Hitters Xu, who is one of the founders of the original blockchain community in China. The rest of the team is made up of former Google, Alibaba, IBM and Airbnb employees.
To reach the global market and minimize government interference the Nebulas team have moved away from China to Silicon Valley to set up their HQ in San Francisco, but also has offices in Beijing, Singapore, and Shanghai.
Some of the brightest minds are coming together to drive this project forward, an effort that appears to be succeeding — the roadmap for 2018 is currently ahead of schedule.
Nebulas price movement has largely correlated with the movement of the market as a whole but has not seen such violent swings as many other coins. The Nebulas token is still up 150% since ICO and appears to have found steady support around five dollars, suggesting strong positive community support for a team that has delivered on every deadline so far.
Where to Buy Nebulas
From a trading standpoint, Nebulas is just getting started and has yet to hit any major western exchanges.
The majority of trading occurs on Chinese exchange Houbi, with around 30% traded on smaller exchanges such as OKEx, EtherDelta, Gate.io, IDEX, Lbank, BCEX and Allcoin.
The NAS token is currently an ERC20 token but will be swapped to a native token on the Nebulas blockchain shortly after Mainnet launch.
Having already launched their Mainnet, Nebulas are now a strong contender to be the first established blockchain 3.0 project. Although Nebulas is a long-term project, the team have demonstrated their ability to deliver according to plan, and the roadmap details further innovations up to late 2019, making it a potentially very rewarding long-term hold.
With a uniquely innovative vision, flawless track record, and very strong Blockchain background, it is possible that Nebulas could take the next step in the evolution of Blockchain
“Nebulas comes from the summary and thinking of the entrepreneurial practice in the blockchain community for a long time.” – Hitters Xu (Reddit AMA)
For more information on Nebulas, including market cap, price, and founders, please see our Nebulas coin profile.
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