Iranian Police Seize Batch of 117 Smuggled Crypto Mining Machines

Concept of digital crypto mining

Ana Alexandre reports:

Iranian provincial police have arrested an individual smuggling in cryptocurrency mining machines, local news agency Fars News reported on July 31.

The Saveh Police Department's Anti-Trafficking Police seized a truck allegedly carrying 117 cryptocurrency mining machines to the value of 11.7 billion Iranian rials ($277,876 at press time).

According to Sardar Kiomars Azizi, a Police News Agency official, the police confiscated the aforementioned crypto mining equipment and arrested the truck driver.

Crypto mining in complicated regulatory territory

The news comes in the wake of the Iranian government’s authorization of cryptocurrency mining as an industrial activity in July. Now, entities engaged in the crypto mining will be required to seek a license from Iran’s Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade.

The government’s decision nonetheless underscores that using cryptocurrencies for domestic transactions remains outlawed and that those engaged in the industry should bear responsibility for the risks without any guarantees from the government or local banking sector.

While mining may now be legal, Deputy President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration Jamal Arounaghi recently noted that the agency has not issued any licenses for importing the equipment. 

Electricity costs and economic contribution

Also in July, the Iranian Economic Commission finalized an electricity pricing scheme for cryptocurrency miners. Energy Minister Homayoon Ha’eri did not elaborate on the exact price scheme, although he stated that the price is dependent on market factors such as fuel prices in the Persian Gulf.

The head of Iran Electrical Industry Syndicate, Ali Bakhshi, previously proposed a price of $0.07 per kilowatt hour for cryptocurrency miners. Mostafa Rajabi Mashhadi, the Energy Ministry spokesman for the power department, previously stated that the production of a single Bitcoin uses about $1,400 in state subsidies.

Governor of the Central Bank of Iran Abdolnaser Hemmati previously argued that digital currency miners in Iran should contribute to the country’s economy, rather than letting mined Bitcoin (BTC) escape abroad.


US Capital Global Offers $10 Million in a Tokenized Crypto Fund


Adrian Zmudzinski writes:

US Capital Global Securities (USCGS), offers investors a $10 million equities investment in a tokenized fund, reveals a press release published on July 29. USCGS is a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)-regulated affiliate of private investment bank US Capital Global.

Per the release, USCGS is offering to accredited investors a $10 million equity investment in the first tokenized venture fund of private digital venture capital fund CityBlock Capital, NYCQ Fund LP. The fund, of which the institution is the exclusive placement agent, reportedly has holdings in major companies in the blockchain and financial technology industries.

According to the announcement, the fund includes holdings in U.S.-based crypto exchange Coinbase, digital asset platform and upcoming Bitcoin (BTC) futures provider Bakkt, crypto asset data company Nomics, and electronic brokerage Tagomi. USCGS CEO Charles Towle commented on the development:

“Combining low minimum investment amounts and early liquidity opportunities, the Fund gives accredited investors access to blockchain infrastructure investments normally available to institutional investors.”

As Cointelegraph reported last week, cryptocurrency data and financial technology startup Digital Asset Data announced that it received $3.2 million in funding.

Earlier this month, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s venture fund led a $3.75 million seed round for blockchain-powered video game studio Horizon Blockchain Games.


Bitcoin ATM Firm LibertyX Expands Locations via New Partnership


Helen Partz reports:

LibertyX, the firm that launched America’s first Bitcoin (BTC) automated teller machine (ATM), will add 90 new machines to its network.

In order to expand the network, Boston-based LibertyX has partnered with independent ATM operator DesertATM, according to a report by global ATM market publication ATMmarketplace on July 18.

As a part of the partnership, DesertATM will upload LibertyX on 90 of its Genmega ATMs to enable Bitcoin operations. New Bitcoin ATM locations will include gas stations such as AMPM, ARCO & Chevron, as well as Family Dollar retail stores, the press release notes.

In October 2018, LibertyX teamed up with Genmega, an ATM supplier serving the Independent ATM Deployment market, to allow users to use their debit cards to purchase Bitcoin at any BTC-enabled Genmega machine.

LibertyX CEO Chris Yim stated that the company has been making partnerships with ATM operators that already have locations to offer LibertyX services on their machines. According to Yim, the firm’s network now spans across 43 states and allows users to buy Bitcoin from a cashier or ATM using their debit card or a kiosk, with a limit of $3,000 of Bitcoin at a time.

As previously reported, LibertyX obtained a BitLicense issued by the New York State Department of Financial Services in January 2019 alongside stock and crypto trading app Robinhood .

Recently, Canadian exchange Coinsquare announced that they acquired software allowing traditional ATMs to sell cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. The news came amid a report of a potential ban on Bitcoin ATMs in Vancouver over money laundering concerns. 


U.S. Libra Hearings Day 1: Lawmakers Finding It Hard to Trust Facebook


The United States’ Senate Banking Committee raised a wave skepticism over Facebook’s crypto project Libra during the first day of testimony on July 16.

The new hearing, called “Examining Facebook's Proposed Cryptocurrency and Its Impact on Consumers, Investors, and the American Financial System” is scheduled for 10:00 AM ET, July 17.

As day two is coming in the next few hours, Cointelegraph posts a short recap of yesterday's hearings.

The first day saw Senate Banking Committee attacked David Marcus, head of Facebook’s crypto wallet Calibra, raising major concerns over Libra, including issues of trust, privacy, security and regulation.

The problem of trust has apparently prevailed during the hearing, as Senator Sherrod Brown considered Facebook “dangerous” in the very opening remarks. The senator further expressed his scepticism, expressing doubts that people will trust Facebook with “their hard-earned money.”

Elizabeth Warren, Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate, outlined a lack of evidence that Facebook does not plan to link the platform’s user data to their money transactions and keep those records. She said:

“I’m not reassured by your statement that you can’t see any reason right now why there wouldn’t be any data sharing between these platforms.”

Senator Martha McSally escalated Warren’s concerns, pointing out that Facebook’s “track record of failing and violating and deceiving in the past” is a sufficient cause for the committee to not trust the platform at all.

Additionally, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo raised a question why the Libra Corporation had chosen to register in Switzerland. In turn, Marcus assured that committee that the association would also register with the U.S. regulators. Specifically, Marcus emphasized Facebook’s intention to be compliant with the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in distributing its Libra stablecoin.

In the hearing, Marcus highlighted the role of Libra in the global leadership of the U.S. in an apparent attempt to mitigate the escalated concerns over the project. He warned that if the U.S. fails to act on the issue, the world will eventually see another crypto initiative that would be controlled by someone else, whose values are “radically” different.

Yesterday, U.S. house minority leader Kevin McCarthy expressed criticism against Libra, while praising major cryptocurrency Bitcoin (BTC), which has slipped to as low as $9,100 earlier today, seeing a loss of around 30% over the past 7 days at press time.


Cleveland Cavaliers Partner With Cryptocurrency Firm UnitedCoin


Max Boddy writes:

Ohio-based professional basketball team the Cleveland Cavaliers (The Cavs), along with its associated esports club Cavs Legion GC, have partnered with the cryptocurrency firm UnitedCoin. The National Basketball Association (NBA) announced the new partnership in a press release on July 15.

The partnership will reportedly be used to advertise UnitedCoin and provide the Cavs with an inroad to the fintech sector via cryptocurrency.

For the Cavs, one aspect of this partnership will reportedly be LED signage inside Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse during Cavs games.

The Cavs Legion will reportedly advertise UnitedCoin as its “Official Cryptocurrency Partner.” Within NBA 2K, this means that UnitedCoin will be displayed on the team’s in-game home court. The Cavs Legion will also put UnitedCoin’s brand on social media, as per the announcement.

According to the press release, UnitedCoin includes a service to transact with both fiat money and cryptocurrencies via phone or email. The company has also issued a Mastercard debit card, which likewise has both fiat and crypto functionality.

As per its website, UnitedCoin is registered with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and is still in an early-access phase. According to its whitepaper, UnitedCoin employs a new type of consensus algorithm and chain structure that purportedly solves some problems with traditional blockchains.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, the Miami Dolphins announced on July 11 that Litecoin is the team’s “official cryptocurrency.” The team will set up home stadium kiosks to let fans participate in their 50/50 raffle with cryptocurrencies.


Chia Releases Green Paper Detailing Eco-Friendly Means of Crypto Mining


San Francisco-based tech firm Chia Network has released a green paper that describes an eco-friendly means of mining cryptocurrencies.

The green paper provides a description of how proof of space and proof of time create a "Nakamoto-style" consensus algorithm for Chia’s blockchain. Specifically, Chia proposes to “farm” rather than mine to verify blockchains that issue cryptocurrencies, wherein proof of space and proof of time take the place of the proof of work (PoW) principle used for mining of Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH). The paper further explains: 

“Instead of using proofs of work, Chia alternates proofs of space with verifiable delay functions. This results in a chain than in many aspects is similar to Bitcoin, in particular, as in Bitcoin no synchronisation is needed and we can prove rigorous security guarantees assuming a sufficient fraction of the resource (space in Chia, computation in Bitcoin) is controlled by honest parties.”

Initially, Chia’s CEO Bram Cohen debuted his solution to Bitcoin in late 2017, which he said resolves “centralization problems” with the virtual currency by employing the concept of proof-of-time. Cohen said “the idea is to make a better Bitcoin, to fix the centralization problems,” relying on a two-step block authentication method.

As reported in June, the carbon emissions generated by Bitcoin are comparable to the whole of Kansas City, and even a small country, according to a study published in the Joule journal. With annual emissions of CO2 estimated at between 22 and 22.9 megatons, Bitcoin sits somewhere between Jordan and Sri Lanka in terms of output. The study suggested that this level would double if every other cryptocurrency was also taken into account.

According to a March study by a blockchain specialist at Big Four auditing firm PwC, renewable energy would not be enough to solve bitcoin’s sustainability problem. The carbon footprint of a Bitcoin transaction reportedly outpaces that of a traditional non-cash banking transaction.