Falcon Brokers Looses Licenses in UK, Germany & Cyprus; Former Clients To Seek Restitution from Investor Compensation Fund in Cyprus

The Board of of the CySEC issued a release today for existing clients of Falcon Brokers Ltd, informing them that Falcon Brokers lost its Cyprus Investment Firm (CIF) authorization in March of this year for not complying with section 28(1) of the Investment Services and Activities and Regulated Markets Law of 2007.

Under existing financial regulations in Cyprus, firms that lose their license are required by law to wind down all operations and refund all customer funds within three months.

However, the CySEC said that Falcon Brokers has not followed procedure and existing clients will now have to seek restitution from the Investor Compensation Fund (ICF). The regulator also mentioned that Falcon Brokers has not responded to CySEC inquires since March:
“The CySEC has not been able to communicate with the Company from the date of the withdrawal of its authorization, as the Company’s contact number seems to be disconnected.“
While the Falcon Brokers' telephone number has been disconnected, their website is still up (new.falconbrokers.com) and it would seem that the firm is still signing up new clients through a different sub-domain (sys.falconbrokers.com), which has a different phone number. Additionally, Falcon Brokers claims on their webpage they are still regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin).

However, upon checking the registration numbers provided by Falcon Brokers with both financial regulators, a different story begins to surface. The FCA registry says that Falcon Brokers was previously authorized (Reg. No. 565054) but is no longer allowed to conduct business in the UK:

Querying the BaFin registry with ID number 125737 - the number provided on the Falcon Brokers homepage for BaFin - does not even return any results related to Falcon Brokers Ltd. At press time, it doesn't appear that Falcon Brokers is regulated by the FCA or BaFin.

The CySEC has directed former Falcon Brokers clients in Cyprus to start familiarizing themselves with the claims process and the necessary paperwork:
“All affected clients (covered clients of the Company) are invited to study the I.C.F. Directive as well as the information for the submission of compensation applications found on the CySEC’s website and take all appropriate actions for the submission of their claims.”

Global LocalBitcoins Volumes Hit All-Time High; New Records In USA, Brazil, Malaysia, Sweden and Venezuela

Global turnover on LocalBitcoins, the largest P2P Bitcoin trading venue in the world, hit an all-time high of $15.983,254 USD last week. The reading is not surprising as the price of the digital currency hit a high of $722, last Friday. The last time Bitcoin was trading near $700 - beginning of July, 2016 - global turnover on LocalBitcoins was $12,620,648.

While global volume hit an all-time high, LocalBitcoins turnover in USA, Brazil, Malaysia, Sweden and Venezuela also hit a new record, according to charts by Coin.dance. In the United States, volume for last week came in at $8,133,592 - just a bit higher than the previous record for the week ending on 2016-08-20, which was $8,099,706.


LocalBitcoins volume for last week in Brazil was 336,789 Brazilian real, a bit higher than the previous record on 2016-06-18, which was R$320,108. LocalBitcoins volumes in Brazil have been on a steady rise since the start of 2016, despite the good performance of the Brazilian real against the US dollar during the same period. Since February of 2016, the BRL/USD exchange rate has climbed to a high of 0.321 on October 26. The BRL/USD rate in January of this year was around 0.24.


The new all-time high in Malaysia was much more impressive than the ones in Brazil and the USA. For the last week of October, LocalBitcoins volumes in Malaysia hit an all-time high of 912,371 Malaysian ringgits - much higher than the previous record of RM737,218, recorded on 2016-07-23.

The Malaysians’ interest in alternative currencies and stores of value is not surprising, given the poor performance of the Malaysian ringgit against the dollar over the last few months, despite oil prices climbing to 2016-highs of around $51 per barrel since mid-September.

Comments made recently by Datuk Muhammad bin Ibrahim, Governor of Bank Negra Malaysia, regarding the waning effects of unconventional monetary policies undertaken by central banks on the global economy, may have also prompted Malaysian investors to start seriously considering investments outside the legacy financial system.
“The contradictory forces that I mentioned earlier, are causing great policy tensions. The policies that have been implemented and experimented in recent years by policy-makers across the world might themselves appear in contradictions. And the fact that the performance so far has been mixed does not invoke confidence in some of the policy prescriptions.“


The Swedish krona’s terrible performance in October against the dollar, coupled with Bitcoin’s rapid rise, in all likelihood contributed to the new all-time reading on LocalBitcoins in Sweden. A total of 2,856,634 Swedish krona in trades took place in Sweden last week.

The Swedish krona has been on a downward slide since May of this year, when the SEK/USD rate was at 0.125. Today, SEK/USD is trading at 0.111!


LocalBitcoins volumes have been on the rise in Venezuela since July, when the Venezuela’s economic and social fabric began to collapse at breakneck velocity, with no end in sight. While LocalBitcoins turnover pulled back in the third week of October, coming in at 2,294,180 Venezuelan bolivars, the last week of October of LocalBitcoins was record-breaking at 2,997,495 Venezuelan bolivars.

The IMF has previously estimated Venezuela’s annual inflation rate at over 500 percent, however, a recent article by the Cato Institute calculates the country’s annual inflation rate at 55 percent, which is lower but still a very high figure by any standard. Even at Cato's 55 percent annual inflation figure, Venezuelans looking to preserve purchasing power are likely to turn to Bitcoin for the foreseeable future.

Currency charts by XE

Swiss Railways to Start Selling Bitcoin via Ticket Machines in November

Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), the national railway company of Switzerland, has announced it will be selling Bitcoin at all SBB ticket machines. Travelers will be able to purchase the digital currency via their smartphone by simply scanning a QR code displayed on ticket machine.

The new functionality will go live on all ticket machines on November 11, 2016. Travelers will be allowed to purchase Bitcoin worth up to CHF 500, with a minimum purchase as low as CHF 20, at 794+ SBB railway stations across the country.

SBB ticket machines only accept hard currency, “You cannot top up Bitcoin by credit card,” states SBB.

Images via SBB

Bitcoin-buyers will be verified with an SMS message, which will contain a security code that is necessary to complete the transaction. Only Swiss mobile phone numbers will be allowed to purchase digital currency at SBB ticket machines, according to the announcement.

SFC in Hong Kong Warns About Cressida Limited, a Forex & Derivatives Investment Firm With a Fake Address

The Hong Kong SFC has issued another warning against another unregulated broker: Cressida Limited. The unlicensed financial consulting firm claims to be offering real estate, foreign exchange, financial derivatives and equities trading & investment services, out of an address in Hong Kong.

The FSC has stated in their warning that Cressida Limited does not have a presence in the region:
“The company gives the above Hong Kong address but it is not located there.”
Cressida Limited claims to be the “largest privately brokerage/consulting firm in Hong Kong,” but their domain (cressidaltd.com) was only registered last year, according to information obtained from ICANN.

The management section of the Cressida Limited website also contains no real photographs of any of the employees, only names and empty icons are shown!

Cressida Limited also claims to be registered in Samoa and provides a company number on its site. However, upon checking Cressida’s company registration number (64592) with the Samoan Ministry of Commerce Industry & Labour, no results are returned!

Swiss Forex Marketplace Dukascopy Will Reduced Leverage Ahead of US Election

Swiss-based Forex broker Dukascopy has announced that leverage on all currency pairs will be reduced on US Election day, citing unusual volatility and unpredictable market liquidity. In particular, Dukascopy will be reducing leverage on the USD/MXN pair to 1:10, two days prior to the election, on November 6, while all other FX pairs will have leverage ratios trimmed on Tuesday, November 8 at 10:00 GMT.

Dukascopy has clarified that only accounts with balances in excess of $30,000 USD will be subject to the leverage reductions:
“All other accounts (under USD 30,000 or equivalent) that experience a significant increase of equity due to profit or deposit on Tuesday 8 November will be treated on a case-by-case basis.”
For most of the standard FX pairs, leverage during the election will be reduced to standard weekend levels (1:30), with some exotic pairs like CAD/HKD, EUR/TRY and HKD/JPY having weekend leverage of 1:10. Weekday leverage ratios for most currency pairs on Dukascopy are usually around 1:100.

Trading conditions will be returned to normal on November 9, however, Dukascopy has said that tight leverage ratios may remain suppressed if market conditions warrant it.

Similar policies were implemented ahead of the Brexit vote in June, where maximum leverage ratios for GBP and EUR pairs were reduced to 1:30. In the case of Brexit, Dukascopy maintained the restrictions for 6 days.

ForexTime Sponsors Russian BASE jumper & Red Bull Athlete, Valery Rozov, Who Sets New World Record in China

Valery Rozov, a Russian BASE jumper and Red Bull athlete, set a new world record on Monday by jumping from mount Cho Oyo, in China, from a height of 7,700 meters. The Russian jumper set his new record with the help of a sponsorship deal from ForexTime (FXTM), a regulated FX broker in Cyprus, Britain, South Africa and Belize.

With this jump, Rozov broke his previous world-record, which was set in May of 2013 when he made a jump from the north peak of Mount Everest - also known as Changtse (7,220 meters) - in a specialized Red Bull wingsuit.
“I am very grateful to FXTM for its ongoing support in this project, and for giving us both the opportunity to show the world that if you want to achieve something great you need to push yourself and not give up,” said Rozov.
Valery Rozov sets new world-record in China:

The #FXTMbasejump project began with a jump off mount Bevant in Chamonix, France, on August 10 of this year, followed by jumps from mount Pisco in Peru and the Dolomites, a mountain range located in northeastern Italy. The jump phase of the project concluded this week with the final jump from mount Cho Oyo.

Olga Rybalkina, CEO of ForexTime Ltd, compared Rozov’s focus and dedication to FXTM’s attitude towards its clients, “By having the goal, gaining the proper training, understanding and managing the risk effectively, you have the potential to reach new heights,” she adds.

During the next steps of the campaign, Rozov will be visiting FXTM headquarters and a media tour is planned throughout China, with Rozov attending various meet-and-greet events.

Polish Exchange Bitcurex Looses 2300 Bitcoin (6 Million Polish Zloty) of Customer Funds in Hack

One of Poland’s largest digital currency exchanges, Bitcurex.com, announced today that its servers were breached by hackers. Bitcurex staff claim that errors at “third-party” systems were responsible for the loss of 2300 BTC of customer deposits, which at current exchange rates (2700.91 PLN per BTC) translates to approximately 6.2 Million Polish zloty.

The exchange went down on October 14, 2016, citing technical problems. But clients began to suspect foul play when Bitcurex failed to re-launch after one week, rumours started circulating in the community that something more serious was going on behind the scenes.

According to a rough English translation of today’s statement on the Bitcurex homepage, the theft took place on the 13th of October. Following the incident, security protocols were implemented and forensics firms were called in to the investigate the incident and track the stolen coins on the blockchain.

On October 17, the parent company of Bitcurex, Digital Future Ltd, lodged a criminal complaint with the authorities in Lodz, Poland:
“On 10.17.2016 the company's management Digital Future Sp. Sp z oo K filed with the District Prosecutor's Office in Lodz for criminal prosecution.”
At press time, it’s unclear what percentage of overall assets the theft represents, and what portion of leftover funds clients will be allowed to recover.

The embattled exchange has provided a withdrawal form for clients to withdraw available BTC, PLN, DASH, EUR and USD deposits:
“The website owner reserves, that due to technical issues, the time to verify the information contained in it can take up to 7 days from the date of receipt of the form along with the required attachments.”
Bitcurex experienced a similar theft in March of 2014, when hackers managed to steal a portion of the Bitcoin that resided on the exchange's hot wallet; the amount of BTC that was stolen in 2014 was not disclosed by Bitcurex.

Centralized exchanges have been Bitcoin's Achilles' heel since inception, but the rise of P2P-style, decentralized crypto-currency exchanges such as Bitsquare may be a solution.

UK FCA Warns Against London-based Forex Broker SLStrade; Disgruntled Investors Accuse SLStrade of Scamming

Image credit: Third Sector

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK has issued a warning against London-based SLStrade.com, an unlicensed Forex broker:
“This firm is not authorised by us and is targeting people in the UK. Based upon information we hold, we believe it is carrying on regulated activities which require authorisation.”
The FCA has advised investors to check the legal status of each financial firm with the Financial Services Register. Firms that are not on this list or the Interim Permission Register should be avoided and reported immediately.

FCA’s warning against SLS trading comes on the heels of multiple complaints lodged against the firm on ForexPeaceArmy, a forum for FX traders. One user alleges that a broker at SLStrade by the name Michael Dobson - who was using a photograph of Carlos Slim Domit as his profile photo on Skype - defrauded him of $2000 on a supposed crude oil trade.

Another defrauded investors claims he lost $8500 with SLStrader due to a supposed glitch on the NASDAQ exchange.

There have been allegations from disgruntled investors that SLStrade.com, ForexBLVD.com, Icetrader.com and Fx-inter.com are one company, or at least related, but this link has not been confirmed yet.

It's worth noting that FX broker Icetrader.com, a subsidiary of CIF Glistentree Holdings, lost its license in Cyprus recently and owner Danny Rothman (Daniel Rubinstein) was fined €100,000 for submitting forged documents to the CySEC.

Fraud Accusations Mount Against FX Broker Option500 as Hong Kong SFC Issues Warning

The Hong Kong SFC has levied penalties against multiple Forex brokers this year and the agency has warned against several unlicensed FX firm this month, which have names resembling reputable brokers like Plus500.

For instance, last week, the SFC sent out a warning against Option500 (www.option500.com), which has been soliciting investors in Hong Kong and overseas. The unlicensed company claims to be based in the United Kingdom and has a very similar-sounding name to British FX broker Plus500 - a regulated entity and a recognizable brand name in the industry.

SFC's warning reads:

The financial regulator in Cyprus, the CySEC, also warned about Option500 in October of last year, saying the company “is not permitted to provide investment and ancillary services in the Republic, pursuant to Investment Services and Activities and Regulated Markets Law.”

Several former clients have also accused Option500 of fraud and complaints have been lodged with the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), according to a forum thread on ForexPeaceArmy.

One former client alleges that Carl Ericcson and Alan Jones, compliance manager at Option500, scammed him to the tune of $18,700 via document forgery and unauthorized trading.

Forex Broker Alpari Opens New Headquarters on Island Nation of Mauritius

Forex broker Alpari unveiled its new offices in the business district of the island nation of Mauritius. Alpari’s new international headquarters are situated in the Maeva Tower, located in the Mauritius’ Cybercity information technology hub, in Ebene.

According to Alpari’s announcement, the high levels of investor confidentiality, along with a favorable business climate and progressive legal system, played a key role in convincing Alpari management to relocate to the island nation.

Ebene Cybercity at dusk, By Starts (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

While Alpari has been licensed to operate in the small island nation since 2013, the decision to move the firm’s headquarters to Mauritius was made after several meetings took place between Alpari management and Mauritian authorities, including Prakash Maunthrooa, Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister.

Andrey Dashin, CEO and owner of Alpari, underscored the significance of the occasion:
"The Republic of Mauritius has kindly welcomed and opened up new horizons for the development of our international brand in the market of financial services due to its progressive legal system and long-standing market traditions."
Last year, Alpari’s FX turnover was over $1 trillion. Since its founding in December of 1998, the Alpari brokerage has grown to over one million clients, with offices in 80 countries. More recently, Alpari received permission from The National Bank of Belarus to operate in the region.

CySEC Hits Forex & CFDs Broker Xtrade with a Hefty €225,000 Fine

Cyprus’ financial regulator, the CySEC, has imposed a hefty €225,000 monetary penalty on XFR Financial Ltd, parent company of Forex & CFDs broker Xtrade.com.

The fine breaks down into seven sections; €70.000 for providing investment advice without authorization; €10.000 for failing to maintain adequate controls for risk of failure; €10.000 for a weak internal operational manual; €40.000 for failing to act professionally in awarding trading bonuses to clients; €40.000 for providing misleading information to customers and potential clients; €15.000 for providing inaccurate information about nature of financial instruments to potential clients; €40.000 for failing to ask clients to provide adequate information.

This is not the first instance of XFR Financial running into issues with regulators. In July, 2016, the British Columbia Securities Commission issued a warning against XFR Financial for soliciting and opening accounts for Canadians on its Forex platform, xforex.com:
“Although XFR Financial Ltd. is registered with the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission, the Parties are not registered to trade in, or advise on, securities or exchange contracts in BC.”
XFR Financial’s Australian FX subsidiary, XTrade.au Pty Ltd, also ran into problems in July with the Australian Securities & Investment Commission, which took issue with the way XTrade was handling payments processes.

The CySEC stated that this is XFR Financial's first offense and that the company has taken the necessary corrections to come into full compliance with the law.

Equity Crowdfunding Platform WeFunder Begins Taking Bitcoin Payments Through BitPay

WeFunder, a crowdfunding platform for startups that has funded 134 projects to date, has partnered with payment processor BitPay to give investors the option of backing their favorite startups with Bitcoin.

Until May 16th of 2015, only accredited investors in the United States were able to participate in equity crowdfunding of American startups, but the passage of the new rules in Title III of the JOBS Act opened up the field to non-accredited investors as well.

The partnership between WeFunder and BitPay opens up the equity crowdfunding space even further to the global Bitcoin community, which numbers in the millions. New and existing WeFunder users who are not domiciled in the United States will also be able to save on wire transfer fees, according to BitPay:
“Since bitcoin works everywhere the internet is available, WeFunder investors will be able to save on the costs of wire transfers. That means WeFunder and its platform companies gain a better way to reach international investors and the bitcoin community around the world.”
The new Bitcoin payment option also comes with an added fee of $1.01 and WeFunder states that all incoming Bitcoin payments are instantly converted into dollars.

Today’s announcement from BitPay comes only one day after Airbitz - a San Diego-based startup that developed the Edge-Security platform, which allows users to access blockchain apps via a single barcode scan on their mobile - announced its 30-day equity crowdfunding campaign on WeFunder. Airbitz is the first blockchain-focused startup to seek funding under the new regulations in the JOBS Act:
"And to add to the historic nature of our offering, we worked closely with Wefunder and Bitpay to ensure that crypto lovers would be able to invest in Airbitz – and every other company on Wefunder – using Bitcoin instead of fiat currency."

Luxembourg's CSSF Issues Warning Against Another Unlicensed Forex Investment Outfit: Millionet Investment Management Limited

Image credit: plubee.com

Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF), the Luxembourg agency tasked with overseeing the activities of financial entities in the country, has issued a warning against Millionet Investment Management Limited.

Millionet’s website (millionetasia.com) claims the company is headquartered in Luxembourg, with offices in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, however, CSSF has said that Millionet has no license to offer any kind of investment products to residents of Luxembourg:
“The CSSF informs the public that the entity Millionet Investment Management Limited is unknown to it and that the entity has not been granted the authorisation required to provide investment, fund management or other financial services in or from Luxembourg.“
The Investor Benefits page claims that clients can benefit by having their accounts managed by experienced fund managers, “No Paper work involved and easy formalities,” claims Millionet.

This unlicensed outfit also claims to manage Forex, Gold, Silver, Stock Index Futures and CFD portfolios for clients.

Last week, the CSSF also issued a warning against Zidex Financials, another unlicensed Forex broker that claims to be based in Luxembourg.

Hong Kong SFC Levies HK$4 Million Penalty on HK FXCM for Asymmetric Slippage on Clients' Forex Trades

The Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has fined FXCM Asia Limited (HK FXCM) HK$4 million for asymmetric slippage of customers' FX orders between December 2006 and December 2010.

An investigation by the SFC found that HK FXCM netted US$1.4 million in profits over a four-year period from unfairly executing customers’ forex trades.
“During the Relevant Period, a total of US$1,452,926.69 Positive Slippage was retained by the FXCM Group including HK FXCM.“
According to the Statement of Disciplinary Action, HK FXCM operated a no dealing desk (NDD) model, however, when the firm executed FX trades on behalf of clients with external liquidity providers, “FXCM Group including HK FXCM kept the Positive Slippage which is the difference between the original requested price and the better price,” says the SFC.

But in the cases where orders had a worse price when executed with an external liquidity provider, HK FXCM passed the losses directly to their clients:
“The Negative Slippage which is the difference between the worse price and the original requested price was bore by the client.”
While the SFC acknowledged that HK FXCM co-operated with the investigation, the firm also admitted that asymmetric slippage was taking place and agreed to reimburse all affected clients.

The SFC press release states that 3,739 accounts were affected and that victims will be receiving a credit within 30 days.

This isn’t the first time FXCM has been hit with penalties relating to unfair order execution. In February of 2014, FXCM UK had to cough up US$16.9 million - $6.9 million in fines and $10 million in restitution to clients - when it was fined by the UK Financial Conduct Authority for the exact same asymmetric slippage practice.

And in August of 2011, the National Futures Association in the United States levied a $2 million penalty on FXCM for asymmetric slippage, among other violations.

HK FXCM was sold to Rakuten Securities Inc., a Japanese financial services company, in September of 2015 and HK FXCM was re-branded to Rakuten Securities Hong Kong Limited in April, 2016.

Bitfinex Asks Hackers to Return $70 Million Worth of Stolen Bitcoin for 'Enormous Bug Bounty'

Hong Kong-based Bitfinex, which was hacked to the tune of $70 million (119,756 BTC) during the summer, has reached out to the perpetrators in hopes of recovering some of the stolen funds.

Giancarlo Devasini, Risk Manager at Bitfinex, has proposed an “enormous bug” bounty to the hackers that would be disbursed in an anonymous way. While Mr.Devasini didn’t mention any specifics, the announcement alludes to a “privacy-centric” payment method.

The two most popular privacy-oriented digital currencies, which have any liquidity and sufficient market capitalization, would be DASH and Monero.

Bitfinex has asked the hackers to establish a line of communication via Bitmessage, a P2P communications protocol with message encryption, and asks for proof of ownership of one of the Bitcoin addresses that currently holds about 1,757 BTC, which were siphoned off from Bitfinex servers in August.

Giancarlo Devasini writes:
“We believe that a combination of Tor and an anonymous email service should suffice to protect your identity and location. Encrypting your message with our PGP key further guarantees privacy from prying eyes, but to prove your authenticity to us, we ask that you provide the public key associated with 1QDBWKgfftwuraEasMGSUvj9PPrswZv19q and sign your message with the corresponding private key.”
Devasini also put forth an alternative communications method: attaching an encrypted message via OP_RETURN on the Bitcoin blockchain to one of the 2073 addresses holding the stolen funds.

The bold move by Bitfinex management has been met with ridicule and skepticism by the Bitcoin community on Reddit, “These finex guys are hilarious. Unbelievable!,” wrote one Redditor.

While the somewhat desperate maneuver by Bitfinex may seem impractical and unrealistic at first glance, the staggering size of the theft, coupled with the public nature of the Bitcoin blockchain, will make it very difficult for the hackers to cover their tracks completely and spend the stolen coins at some point in the future.

Sophisticated blockchain analysis firms have rendered most Bitcoin tumblers obsolete and every blockchain sleuth is keeping a close eye on the addresses containing the stolen Bitfinex coins.

Giancarlo Devasini posted the plea on October 21, 2016, but so far there hasn’t been any news of contact.

FxPro Negative Order Slippage Jumps by 7.41% and Positive Slippage Drops by 13.22% in Q3 of 2016

FxPro, winner of the ‘Best FX Provider’ at the 2016 City of London Wealth Management Awards, released its quarterly execution statistics yesterday. The company began publicly disclosing order slippage and re-quote percentages in August of this year.

According to yesterday’s press release, during the months of July, August and September; overall positive order slippage was 36.23 percent; negative slippage came in at 27.81 percent; orders execute at quote made up 35.96 percent of all orders.

As for the re-quotes: 4.26% of all orders were re-quoted, with 1.99% receiving a better re-quote and 2.27% receiving a worse quote.

Comparison to previous data released on August 22, 2016:

The figures show that positive order slippage on FxPro has dropped by 13.22 percent over the previous quarter. At quote execution has jumped to 35.96 percent from 30.15, however, negative order slippage has increased by 7.41 percent in the third quarter.

The re-quote data shows a slight increase in the number of re-quotes in Q3: a small 0.09 percent increase. While negative re-quote percentages remain unchanged at 2.27 percent, positive re-quotes have increased by 0.09 percent:

Decentralized P2P Exchange Bitsquare Ups Trading Limits; Adds Support for Augur, GameCredits and 26 Additional Cryptocurrencies

Decentralized P2P-style digital currency exchange Bitsquare.io has added support for 28 new virtual coins in the latest update to the platform. Some of the new additions include prediction marketplace tokens of the Augur platform (REP); online gaming virtual currency GameCredits; Burstcoin, an digital token mined via hard disk.

The new release also lifts trade limits for alternative currencies and other online payment methods:
“Increase trade limits for Altcoins to 3 BTC, OKPay, Swish and AliPay to 2 BTC, ClearXChange, Cash deposit and US postal money order to 1 BTC.”
Additionally, two new payments methods were added; USD funding through Chase QuickPay; Canadian dollar transfers via Interac e-Transfer. Bitsquare is currently the only decentralized exchange that allows anonymous trading of digital currencies for fiat money through TOR nodes. There is no KYC/AML checks on users and everyone is free to trade as they please.

Volume and order book depth on Bitsquare is minuscule compared to what you may find on established, regulated exchanges like Bitstamp, Gemini and Coinbase. But that may change soon as the European Commission has already proposed a central database of digital currency users, according to the latest draft of the 4th Anti-money Laundering Directive (4AMLD).

In a recently published legal opinion document, the ECB suggested that Financial Intelligence Units should have the ability to match digital currency addresses to real-world identities:
"To combat the risks related to the anonymity, national Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) should be able to associate virtual currency addresses to the identity of the owner of virtual currencies. In addition, the possibility to allow users to self-declare to designated authorities on a voluntary basis should be further assessed."
This type of intrusive regulatory approach may set the stage for anonymous trading venues to gain traction.

Largest European Bitcoin Exchange Bitstamp Welcomes Traders With TREZOR Hardware Wallets

Luxembourg-based bitcoin exchange Bitstamp, one of the first digital currency exchanges in the EU to be regulated by the Luxembourg Financial Industry Supervisory Commission this year, has announced that traders can now initiate Bitcoin deposits and withdrawals directly via TREZOR hardware wallet.

The TREZOR wallet is manufactured by Czech-based SatoshiLabs, a company with a stellar reputation in the digital currency industry. The firm is also known for launching the first Bitcoin mining pool, SlushPool, during the early days of the digital currency movement.

Hardware bitcoin wallets are much more secure than online wallets like Blockchain.info and standard PC wallets, which are vulnerable to a variety of hacking attacks. Bitstamp has taken numerous steps to insure the security and privacy of their customers in the aftermath of the Bitfinex exchange hack in August, 2016, which sent shock waves through the industry. In September, Bitstamp also added support for the Ledger hardware wallet.

Bitstamp is holding a TREZOR weekly giveaway to celebrate and all active clients can participate by completing at least one trade during the week:
“If you wish to participate, simply make one active trade in the week preceding the draw and hope for the best. Every Wednesday, starting on October 26th, one lucky winner will be chosen.”

Forex & Bitcoin P2P Payments App Circle Expands Services to Spain and Ireland

Boston-based mobile payments firm Circle has opened up funding via European debit cards for current clients in the UK & Europe. Prior to today’s announcement, users were only able to load their Circle accounts with cards issued in the United States and UK.

The new options also allow some EU citizens to hold & transfer euros among their friends and family members, and even cross-border at the push of a button on their mobile. Circle unveiled the new funding options in tandem with the launch of their app in Spain and Ireland today, which gives citizens of those countries the ability to send cash in a P2P fashion with minimal cost.

Circle Co-Founders Jeremy allaire and Sean Neville explain in their blog post:
“For example, our UK and US customers who hold £ and $ can now send and receive Euros with customers in Spain or Ireland at the speed and convenience of the internet in the same way they are used to sharing messages, photos, or any other content.”

Circle’s app is able to instantly transfer fiat currency between clients by using Bitcoin’s blockchain system as a payment rail. Because of the cost-effective nature of Bitcoin transactions, Circle is able to offer clients a much cheaper remittance service than legacy transfer methods like bank wires & PayPal payments:
“At Circle, we aim to deliver the best rate possible in the world, with Circle’s exchange rate typically being around 0.2% to 0.3% above the market rate.”
Since launching in October of 2013, the innovative startup has raised north of $135 million in four investment rounds from the likes of Goldman Sachs and Baidu. Circle was also the first recipient of UK’s E-Money License in April of this year.

According to the updated debit card support list, users in Estonia Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and United Kingdom are able to hold euros in their Circle app. Coverage for additional EU states is forthcoming.

Luxembourg Financial Regulator Issues Warning Against FX Broker Zidex Financials

Luxembourg's financial regulator, Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF), has issued a warning today against Zidex Financials, a Forex broker that claims to be regulated by the CSSF.

Today’s CSSF announcement clearly indicates that is not the case:
“The CSSF informs the public that the entity Zidex Financials is not supervised by the CSSF and has not been granted the authorization required to provide banking and/or financial services in or from Luxembourg.“
The firm’s website says claims that it’s headquartered in Luxembourg (5th floor 58 boulevard royal 2887 Luxembourg city, Luxembourg), however, the company’s contact page lists an address in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA.

Financial regulators in Europe are scrambling to issue warnings as unlicensed and fraudulent FX, Binary Options & CFD brokers are springing up like mushrooms across the region.

Last week, the AMF in France issued warnings on three unlicensed Forex brokerages. While financial authorities in the Netherlands, along with Dutch Minister of Finance, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, are seeking an outright ban on the advertising of risky financial instruments to the general public.

Forex Broker Icetrader Shuts Down After Losing Cyprus Investment License; Owner Fined €100,000 for Fraud

The financial regulatory body in Cyprus (The Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission) announced today that FX broker icetrader.com - owned and operated by CIF Glistentree Holdings Ltd - has renounced its Cyprus Investment Firm license and will be winding down operations.

Icetrader’s website now lists instructions for clients to withdraw remaining funds. The CySEC press release doesn’t state any specific reason for the firm’s drastic actions, but the agency mentioned that monetary penalties were levied against one of the company’s shareholders in September.

Danny Rothman (Daniel Rubinstein), shareholder of CIF Glistentree Holdings, was fined €100.000 for submitting forged academic titles and falsified tax statements to the CySEC.

The Board of the Cyprus Securities Exchange Commission also banned Mr. Rothman from the financial industry for five years and referred the case to the Attorney General in Cyrpus for criminal investigation.

The CySEC statement reads:
“The CySEC considers the protection of clients’ interests to be of the utmost importance and therefore will closely monitor the Company’s actions in relation to this issue.”

British Forex Marketplace LMAX Threatens Move to Ireland Over EU Passporting Rights

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London-based LMAX, a multilateral trading facility for FX and one of the most recognizable names in the financial services industry & interbank currency markets, is mulling a move to Ireland in the event that Brexit negotiations fail to preserve single market and City passporting rights for financial firms in the UK:
“LMAX Exchange will begin regulatory filings in Ireland in January 2017, if no UK Government assurances are received.”
According to the LMAX press release, the company would be forced to seek licensing in 22 European states, assuming passporting rights are revoked at some point, “The current uncertainty about the future of single market access for the City of London, means that UK-based firms, such as LMAX Exchange, an FCA regulated MTF and broker, have to seek regulation in EU states,” says LMAX.

David Mercer, CEO of LMAX Exchange, explained that many financial firms may choose to leave the UK for the EU, taking with them a significant portion of financial industry jobs, “Furthermore, lost capital markets revenue and associated taxation income could be catastrophic for the UK,” he adds.

LMAX’s stern warnings come two days after a Financial Times report revealed that Theresa May’s cabinet is considering plans to continue paying billions to the EU following Brexit to maintain passporting rights for British-based financial firms.

While the FCA-regulated LMAX has a presence in most global financial centers like Hong Kong, a loss of passporting rights to the EU would likely sever a quarter of the company’s clientele - a risk LMAX says it can’t take:
“The risk of losing access to 25% of the company’s current client base with one signature is significant and one that LMAX Exchange is protecting against - in the absence of any government or regulatory assurance or guidance.”

Crypto-currency Exchange QuadrigaCX Announces 'Cold, Hard Cash' Withdrawals by UPS & Purolator

Canadian crypto-currency exchange QuadrigaCX has announced several new improvements to its service today. The firm’s newsletter states that Interac e-Transfer limits have been bumped up to $3,000 per 24h. QuadrigaCX has one of the most demanding KYC/AML client verification procedures in the industry, requiring clients to complete a credit verification via Equifax.

The Vancouver-based exchange also unveiled its new Cash Delivery withdrawal option. Clients can request hard currency to be delivered via traditional mail for a 2 percent fee and an additional $20 surcharge:
“Cash is shipped with a tracking number via Canada Post, Purolator or UPS so that you can follow its path to your hands from one of these reputable delivery services.”
The new withdrawal method is capped at $5000 CAD and has a minimum threshold of $500 CAD.

Bitcoin Trading on LocalBitcoins Surges in Europe to All-Time High, Turnover in Turkey & Venezuela Explodes

Weekly volume data from the world’s most popular P2P digital currency trading venue, LocalBitcoins, for the week of 2016-10-15, shows the rising popularity of digital money across the globe.

Bitcoin turnover on LocalBitcoins in the European Union set an all-time high last week, clocking in at €831,846. This figure is slightly higher than the previous record (€819,452) set in December of 2013, when the digital currency was trading between $850 and $900.

Europe’s new record is notable, but even more noteworthy is last week’s stellar LocalBitcoins turnover figure in Turkey. While the popularity of digital currencies has been on the rise in most developed and developing countries for the past two years - judging from volume trends on LocalBitcoins - Turks have mostly remained on the sidelines of the virtual currency movement.

For most of 2013, 2014 and 2015 weekly volumes on LocalBitcoins in the country were minuscule to nonexistent. However, the beginning of 2016 marked a steady increase in interest and the first big spike in LocalBitcoins turnover in Turkey occurred during the first week of September, which showed 121,001 Turkish lira worth of trades.

But last week’s surge, which came in at 237,457 TRY, may be one of the first signs that Turks are starting to awaken to Bitcoin’s value proposition. Turkey’s unstable political and economic situation may also be a factor in driving increasing Bitcoin adoption among fearful Turks.

The country’s sagging tourism industry; multiple terrorist bombings; the failed coup against President Erdogan in July; the raging Syrian war on Turkey’s border; are all reflected in the precipitous slide of the Turkish lira against the dollar and the euro. The USD/TRY exchange rate hit a high of 3.11 last Thursday, an all-time low for the Turkish lira, which was trading at 2.3 at the beginning of 2015!

New weekly records were also recorded last week in Colombia (220,168,106 Colombian pesos) and Venezuela (2,940,009 Venezuelan bolivars). Norway and Canada had their second best weekly volumes on LocalBitcoins last week, according to charts on Coin.dance.

Canadian Healthcare Platform AskTheDoctor.com Starts Accepting Bitcoin Payments

Canadian digital healthcare platform AskTheDoctor.com, which allows patients with sensitive health inquiries to consult a licensed physical online, has begun accepting Bitcoin payments for services.

AskTheDoctor was launched in 2010 and and the platform has rapidly grown to include millions of users from almost every country in the world. The company framed the integration of Bitcoin as a more privacy-oriented payment method for users who would like some added confidentiality, which isn’t currently available with credit card payments. Prakash Chand, CEO of AskTheDoctor, explains:
“Many of our users ask extremely sensitive questions from teenage pregnancy to STD's to drug use that they are too afraid to go to their own doctor’s office to get help for. On top of that, many users don’t want their family members to know. While it does take some extra effort to have complete anonymity using Bitcoin, it’s certainly a large improvement over a credit card.”
Since launching in 2010, the innovative online health service has forged partnerships with the U.S. Institute of Health and the National Library of Medicine, which tapped the vast database of medical questions gathered by the company for training artificial intelligence-powered medical assistant programs.

According to the release, Bitcoin payments are available for the desktop platform only, with mobile integration coming soon:
“Later this month Ask The Doctor will launch the Bitcoin payment option on its mobile platform.”