January 15, 2018
Armenia creates a free economic zone to develop high tech startups from around the world
The Armenian government confirmed the idea of creation a free economic zone (FEZ) for a modern high-tech center, Armenia’s Silicon Valley. The new cluster’s primary objective will be to organise and regulate unique infrastructure for developing technological projects from around the world in Armenia.
December 20, Armenian Blockchain Forum (ABF) presented Armenian President Serzh
Sargsyan and the government’s working group with a road map for the initiative
to create infrastructure for developing high-tech projects from around the
world in Armenia.
Armenian government confirmed the idea of creation a free economic zone (FEZ)
for a modern high-tech center, Armenia’s Silicon Valley. The new cluster’s
primary objective will be to organize and regulate unique infrastructure for
developing technological projects from around the world in Armenia.
first step in implementing the initiative to create a high-tech cluster will
cover the first six months of 2018 and will involve opening an international
accelerator, which will be a platform for launching and developing innovative
projects from around the world. It will also involve organizing technical
platforms and industrial data centers to support decentralized ledger
technology in the FEZ.
initiative will boost the development of higher technologies in Armenia and
will help turn our country into a global technology leader, attracting
investors and creating new jobs. This will clearly help Armenia’s economy to
grow,” Armenian Minister for Economic Development and Investment Suren Karayan
said at the meeting.
are also plans to work together with Armenia’s leading universities on a series
of educational and research programs.
a comprehensive approach to organizing a technological infrastructure will
require creating a unique (in terms of both the scale and detail) ecosystem
where the world’s top projects can develop.
Armenian Blockchain Forum (ABF) expects that in its first year the
ecosystem will create 250-300 new high-paying jobs and attract at least $120
million in investment.
think Armenia has everything necessary today: human resources, energy and
technology. We just have to provide a boost and open up new opportunities for
development. We believe that it is possible to create a platform in Armenia
that will bring together global trends, international players and local
intellectual resources. We highly appreciate the interest shown by the Armenian
government and President Serzh Sargsyan personally in the matters of developing
high-tech industries in the country,” ABF managing partner Ilya Goldberg said.
new free economic zone will attract technology startups from around the world
and provide comfortable conditions for their development. The goal of the
project is to make Armenia an attractive world-class technology center and
create an ecosystem which would be comfortable for business people and
investors, offering all the infrastructure services, from educational and
communications programs to digital sites securely attracting investment in the
projects. The new ecosystem will also include an identification center
verifying that FEZ residents comply with international rules.
consultancy KPMG will provide comprehensive advisory, technological and legal
support in creating the innovative
cluster. KPMG has designed a concept of comfortable environment for
international business in the FEZ. It will involve introduction and development
of high-tech products and innovative research. Residents will be exempt from
VAT when providing services and supplying goods in the FEZ. They will also be
exempt from the corporate tax.
authors of the initiative and the working group set up by the Armenian
government are working together
intensely to create an infrastructure platform, tentatively named ECOS, which
will provide an ecosystem offering
comprehensive and complete support for all the players on the new high-tech
December 4, 2017
ABF in partnership with ECOS creates an accelerator to boost high-tech startups in Armenia
Today, December 4th, ABF Initiative presented with the concept and the model of an ecosystem for creating an international technology platform with the operational center in Yerevan.
ABF Initiative presented with the concept and the model of an ecosystem for creating an international technology platform with the operational center in Yerevan.
IT is one of the fastest-growing sectors in Armenia. In recent years, the sector has been growing by 20-30 percent a year.
Armenia will create a platform to boost high-tech startups. The ABF initiative will provide up-and-coming companies with financial support and guidance (consultancy, marketing and legal support) to help them create high-tech products and launch them on international markets. Support will be provided through all the stages of growth, from initial funding to international launches. Startups will be provided with working facilities (smart offices, coworking spaces). To help the sector develop, ABF will attract international capital and expertise. As a result, Armenia will get an international technology park launching and developing startups that will produce solutions for the global market.
ABF believes that Armenia should position itself as a modern developing country and not just as a supplier of natural resources.
ABF will focus on attracting promising startups from all over the world, creating big high-tech companies, helping them enter the global market, attracting capital, and developing the venture capital system by partnering with international funds, universities and other accelerators.
October 9, 2017
ABF представила концепцию цифровой экосистемы для поддержки интернет предпринимательства
Today, October 9th, ABF managing partner Ilya Goldberg and his team meet with Armenian Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan in Yerevan
The ABF delegation presented to the Prime Minister a plan to
create a business ecosystem where technology startups would receive financial
support and expert guidance through all the stages of growth, from initial
funding to the launch of relevant products on the international market. The
initiative will make Armenia more attractive to international technology
companies and help develop the Internet-based business in Armenia.
The initiative envisages organizing a series of topical
events, starting with the Armenian Blockchain Forum in February 2018. As its
key highlight, the forum will present a new educational platform for
entrepreneurs, investors, technology experts and service companies. The plan
also stipulates for mass events intended to search for new solutions and to
facilitate sharing of experience in the IT industry.
As a result, this will help create a modern ecosystem
supporting innovative business activity, promoting digital technology and
opening up new opportunities by digitalizing the economy.
Implementation of the initiative will require development of
legislative framework and other mechanisms to make the Armenian market and
jurisdiction more attractive for companies working with digital technology,
including blockchain technology.
November 21, 2017
Bitcoin Regulation is Simple in Theory, Incredibly Complex in Reality
Regulators have been struggling to come to a consensus, keep in touch and set a working relationship with Cryptocurrencies since they became big enough to worry about. The idea is simple, but implementation is much more difficult due to the quasi-anonymous nature of digital currency.
Regulators worldwide have not yet decided on a consistent approach. Some go the direct route, like China, and try and implement bans which are not as effective as they would hope. Others, like Switzerland, embrace the digital coins, hoping to attract more Blockchain builders.
Thus there is a large gray area at the moment, with regulators floundering in the middle.
Simple, in theory
Regulating cryptocurrencies should be quite simple, in theory. After all, unlike fiat money which can be transferred without any records, cryptocurrencies leave a digital footprint. That footprint is not as simple to follow as a bank transfer, for example, but it is not impossible.
Professor Andrei Kirilenko, director of the Centre of Global Finance and Technology at the Imperial College of London, believes that by their very nature, cryptocurrencies have a reporting system built in, but individuals sometimes obscure their identity in various ways.
He believes that if digital currency transactions were regulated in such a way as to compel transparency, cryptocurrency would be no harder to regulate and tract than bank transfers. Of course, it’s unlikely that users would just accept such regulation without protest.
The difficulty keeping up
Kirilenko adds that the 2008 financial crisis created a perfect environment for the rise of digital currencies. Rapid technological development, in conjunction with a mass talent exodus, the failure of previous systems and the affordability of computing, meant fintech was given the space to flourish.
But that flourishing has been so rapid that regulators can’t keep up with the evolving cryptocurrency space. However, there will come a time when regulators keep up, believes Dr Co-Pierre Georg, senior lecturer at AIFMRM and Director of the UCT Financial Innovation Lab.
“This means it is only a matter of time before they are so widely used that their regulation will be non-negotiable.”
This battle to keep up currently is coupled with the fact that Cryptocurrencies are unprecedented, creating far-reaching complications.
There exists a desire in many parts of the world, and by many citizens of the global cryptocurrency ecosystem, to see some form of regulation as it would add legitimacy. However the drive for regulation has been de-prioritised in many areas because the resources required for regulation require justification to taxpayers and there are frequently more pressing problems. As such, cryptocurrencies are often dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
There is no leading law, or jurisdiction, or precedent out there that states how to deal with cryptocurrencies; instead, regulators must resort to experimentation. Kirilenko says:
“There are multiple aspects to the regulation of cryptocurrencies. Suppose I’m a regulator. What do I regulate? There are different ways to touch that elephant, There are different pieces of regulation. If you are going after one, some or all of them, you have to know what would be your main mandate — whether it is a monetary policy mandate, for instance.”
Long road with bright future
Regulation may seem like a dirty word in the decentralized Bitcoin community, but smart regulation will increase adoption. The fact that only 802 people paid tax on Bitcoin in the US in 2015 has galvanized the IRS, who is now using a company called Chainalysis to try and catch tax cheats. Regulation is inevitable, if for no other reason than tax agencies wanting their cut. Proper regulation and taxation will bring Bitcoin in line with existing monetary systems and spur investment by mainstream finance players.
The CoinTelegraph: https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-regulation-is-simple-in-theory-incredibly-complex-in-reality
October 27, 2017
Singapore Will Not Regulate Cryptocurrencies, Singapore Official Says
Recently during an interview with Bloomberg, an official of Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), which serves as the central bank and financial regulator of Singapore, said that MAS has no plans of regulating cryptocurrencies. The central bank will keep “an open mind,” though the official also stated the necessity of establishing anti-money laundering control in the future.
Money laundering is not Bitcoin’s fault
During the interview, MAS Managing Director, Ravi Menon said that:
“We’ve taken the approach that the currency itself does not pose the risk that warrants regulation. Our approach is to look at the activity around the cryptocurrency and then make an assessment of what regulation would be suitable.”
“It is a known fact that cryptocurrencies are quite often abused for illicit financing purposes, so we do want to have AML/CFT controls in place. So those requirements apply to the activity around cryptocurrency, rather than the cryptocurrency itself.”
Cryptocurrencies have more functions
What’s more, Menon, unlike most of other authorities, didn't undermine or criticize the cryptocurrencies. He said that if cross-border remittance through cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin is more convenient and efficient, the central bank and scholars should focus more on how to use Blockchain and cryptocurrencies to benefit more people. The scholars and professionals should consider whether cryptocurrencies could make cross-border inter-banking payments cheaper, faster and more efficient instead of merely thinking about the economic value of cryptocurrencies as investing products.
Big future of Blockchain in Singapore
Singapore has always been the advocate of Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. The MAS is one of the early adopters of Blockchain technology. On Oct. 25, Singapore and Hong Kong announced a cooperation on a cross-border trade project based on Blockchain technology by linking their trade finance platforms.
With “an open mind,” Singapore could be one of the most important countries for the development of Blockchain technology. It also has the potential of being the hub of Blockchain technology in the future.
The CoinTelegraph: https://cointelegraph.com/news/singapore-will-not-regulate-cryptocurrencies-monetary-authority-of-singapore-official-says
July 12, 2017
Bitcoin Will Be Legal In Russia, Mining to Be Regulated
As Russian works on legislation on the trade of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, there’s a possibility that mining could be criminalized.
Not in the straightforward sense, according to deputy finance minister Aleksey Moiseev as quoted by RT:
"The penalties will be different, mostly administrative, but if someone created the cryptocurrency for the purpose of settlements, then there will be a criminal punishment.”
Moiseev confirmed that there would be criminal penalties for people who create pyramid schemes or cryptocurrencies in order to avoid paying tax.
The ministry had hinted that miners would need to register with a central authority - allowing both companies and entrepreneurs to set up operations.
As the state works on legislation, Moiseev stressed that buying and selling Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies would be legalized. Just how long it will take for this new legislation to take effect is a matter of time, but it could be a few months at the least.
This is quite an about turn for the country, as president Vladimir Putin had all but condemned Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in October.
The Russian president has ordered the government to set up regulations for the trade of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, ICOs and mining by July 2018.
The country is also developing its very own cryptocurrency, the CryptoRuble, which ironically cannot be mined. CryptoRuble will reportedly be controlled by the state and can be exchanged for regular Rubles.
There are also plans afoot to test the possibility of Blockchain technology being used for voting systems in the country.
The CoinTelegraph: https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-will-be-legal-in-russia-mining-to-be-regulated
July 6, 2017
Swedish Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Fund Bigger Than 80% of US ETFs
According to Eric Balchunas, a senior ETF Analyst for Bloomberg, Sweden’s Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETN) is bigger than around 80 percent of US exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
Why is the popularity of Swedish Bitcoin ETN rising?
XBT Provider, the Bitcoin ETN listed on Nordic Nasdaq, a major Swedish stock exchange, is currently one of the three methods of investing in Bitcoin through a strictly regulated market, apart from Grayscale Investment’s Bitcoin Investment Fund (GBTC) and LedgerX’s US Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)-approved Bitcoin derivatives, options and futures exchange.
Earlier this year, billionaire investor and the owner of NBA’s Dallas Mavericks Mark Cuban revealed at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in Los Angeles that he officially invested in Bitcoin through XBT Provider in Sweden.
“It is interesting because there are a lot of assets which their value is just based on supply and demand. Most stocks, there is no intrinsic value because you have no true ownership rights and no voting rights. You just have the ability to buy and sell those stocks. Bitcoin is the same thing. Its value is based on supply demand. I have bought some through an ETN based on a Swedish exchange,” said Cuban.
In September, immediately after JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon offered baseless condemnation on Bitcoin, it was revealed that JPMorgan Securities traded Bitcoin on behalf of its clients through custodian accounts on the Nordic Nasdaq, using the XBT Provider Bitcoin ETN.
High profile investors such as Cuban and large-scale investment firms are restricted to invest through strictly regulated stock markets and investment platforms. Hence, while it is possible for Cuban and other major investors to purchase Bitcoin with personal savings on Bitcoin brokers and exchanges, with a large portfolio, it is difficult to invest directly in Bitcoin.
Expect volumes of regulated Bitcoin investment tools to rise
Several leading Bitcoin brokerages including the $1.6 bln company Coinbase introduced platforms targeted at institutional and retail investors. Coinbase Custody for instance, enables investors to allocate at least $10 mln into Bitcoin. As Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong wrote:
“Coinbase Custody is only available to institutional investors with a minimum of $10 mln in deposits. Retail customers can utilize Coinbase.com as a custody solution.”
Armstrong added that Coinbase already stores billions of dollars worth of digital assets on behalf of the firm’s clients and retail traders.
“We already store billions of dollars worth of digital assets on behalf of our customers. We serve thousands of institutions via our GDAX product, the leading digital currency exchange in the US,” said Armstrong, adding that around $10 bln in institutional money is awaiting to be invested in Bitcoin. “By some estimates, there is $10 bln of institutional money waiting on the sidelines to invest in digital currency today.”
Upon the launch of Bitcoin futures exchanges by CBOE and CME, two of the largest options exchanges in the global finance market, the volume of regulated Bitcoin investment instruments such as ETNs on Nordic Nasdaq and GBTC will spike, as demand from the traditional finance market surges over time.
The CoinTelegraph: https://cointelegraph.com/news/swedish-bitcoin-exchange-traded-fund-bigger-than-80-of-us-etfs
July 6, 2017
A 50MW mining center to be launched in a tax-free zone in Armenia with the support of the Hrazdan thermal power station
ECOS-M entered an agreement with Hrazdan thermal power station on providing electricity to a 50MW mining center, currently under construction. The center has a potential to expand its capacity up to 200 MW and will be based in a tax-free zone in Armenia.
The mining center, being launched in April 2018, benefits from an autonomous source of energy, an effective management system and a favorable tax regime.
The farm will facilitate to a broader access to mining activities; ECOS-M will create opportunities not only for large investors, but for all the potential participants regardless their financial position. Given the affordable source of energy and privileged tax regime, the new blockchain platform is well-positioned to compete with international peers.
Ilya Goldberg, the Managing Partner of ECOS-M, says the first step is taken towards creating the Armenian Tech Zone. ECOS-M and Armenian Blockchain Forum will host an international event, which is going to take place this April in Yerevan, Armenia, Goldberg added. The forum is supposed to become a first truly international blockchain and AI event in Armenia attended by the industry’s key professionals.