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New Zealand Banks Maintain Cautious Stance on Cryptocurrency to Ensure Customer Safety

June G. Bauer

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Major banks in New Zealand are standing firm on their strict controls and, in some cases, bans on cryptocurrency users and traders. This approach has drawn criticism from Easy Crypto, a local crypto firm, accusing the banks of bullying behavior for refusing transactions and denying bank accounts to businesses and consumers involved in digital currencies. The country’s top five banks justify their caution by citing international and domestic risk warnings from regulators, including the Financial Markets Authority. Instances of large-scale crypto scams, such as the collapse of the US-based trading platform FTX, have further fueled their concerns.

Bank Policies Reflecting Customer Safety

New Zealand banks have implemented varying policies regarding cryptocurrency transactions, with Kiwibank and ASB Bank adopting a case-by-case approach. ASB Bank emphasized their commitment to customer safety in a complex regulatory environment, mentioning compliance with anti-money laundering, sanctions, and counter-terrorism financing laws. Westpac New Zealand, on the other hand, takes a highly risk-averse stance, refraining from providing routine banking services to participants in the digital currency exchange industry.

ANZ’s Approach and BNZ’s Risk Classification

ANZ Bank shares Westpac’s cautious stance but permits personal customers to engage in some cryptocurrency transactions, as long as there are no commercial interests involved. BNZ, guided by regulatory advice, acknowledges the growing traction of cryptocurrencies and monitors industry developments. While the bank does not outright prohibit dealing with cryptocurrency-related businesses, it categorizes cryptocurrencies as high risk, setting a risk threshold for onboarding customers operating in this sector.

Kiwibank’s Case-by-Case Assessment

Kiwibank, a New Zealand-owned institution, takes a more open position compared to other major banks. The bank assesses potential customers on a case-by-case basis, requiring evidence of compliance with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism finance obligations as a minimum requirement.

Ensuring Compliance and Monitoring

New Zealand banks are closely adhering to regulatory guidance while recognizing the rising popularity of cryptocurrencies. They acknowledge the risks associated with the industry and adopt measures to safeguard customers and maintain compliance with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism finance regulations.

Legal Tender Distinction

Although cryptocurrencies are widely accepted in New Zealand, it is important to note that they are not recognized as legal tender. Unlike traditional fiat currencies issued by central banks, cryptocurrencies do not possess the status of official payment methods. However, this distinction does not impede their use as a medium of exchange or investment instrument within the country.

Increasing Popularity of Cryptocurrency Investments

The 2022 survey conducted by the New Zealand FMA sheds light on the growing popularity of cryptocurrency investments among the nation’s population. Approximately 10% of New Zealanders have chosen to allocate their investment portfolios to cryptocurrencies, indicating a significant level of participation and trust in these digital assets. This trend reflects the increasing recognition of cryptocurrencies as an alternative asset class with potential for long-term growth.

Final Thoughts

As the cryptocurrency landscape evolves, New Zealand’s major banks remain cautious in their approach to mitigate risks and protect their customers. Compliance with complex regulatory requirements, concerns over scams, and international risk warnings contribute to the banks’ careful handling of cryptocurrency-related transactions. The evolving nature of the industry and regulatory developments will continue to shape their policies and approaches to ensure a secure and compliant banking environment.

Pop cultureaholic, Technology expert, Web fanatic and a Social media geek. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to email her at [email protected] or contact her on Twitter @JuneTBauer1

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Former IcomTech CEO Admits Guilt in Cryptocurrency Ponzi Scheme

sying.tien

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In a recent development, Marco Ochoa, the former CEO of IcomTech, has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to commit wire fraud charge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. This admission of guilt is tied to the infamous Ponzi scheme orchestrated by IcomTech during Ochoa’s tenure as CEO, which lasted from the company’s inception in 2018 until 2019.

The U.S. Department of Justice, in an official statement, revealed that IcomTech enticed investors with the promise of daily returns on investment products, all under the guise of being a cryptocurrency mining and trading enterprise. To attract unsuspecting customers, the company went to great lengths, including hosting extravagant expos and community events on a global scale. Additionally, IcomTech introduced its own digital token, known as an “Icom.”

However, the shocking truth emerged that the company did not engage in cryptocurrency mining activities as claimed. Worse yet, investors found themselves unable to access the profits they believed were accumulating in their accounts. This deceitful scheme eventually unraveled, leading to the company’s collapse in late 2019.

In the aftermath, legal charges were filed against Marco Ochoa and other high-ranking IcomTech executives in November 2022. As a result of his guilty plea, Ochoa now faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

This latest revelation serves as a stark reminder of the importance of due diligence when investing in the cryptocurrency space. It highlights the need for investors to exercise caution and skepticism, especially when confronted with promises of unrealistically high returns. As the cryptocurrency market continues to evolve, staying informed and making informed decisions remains paramount to protect oneself from fraudulent schemes like the one perpetrated by IcomTech.

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Robert Kiyosaki’s Bold Prediction: Citibank Tokens vs. Bitcoin and the US Dollar

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In a recent tweet that sent shockwaves through the cryptocurrency community, renowned author and financial literacy advocate Robert Kiyosaki ignited a spirited debate about the future of Bitcoin and the US dollar. The tweet read:

This bold statement has raised questions about the impact of traditional financial institutions like Citibank embracing blockchain technology and its potential implications for both Bitcoin and the US dollar.

Citibank, one of the world’s leading financial institutions, made headlines by announcing its entry into the blockchain arena. The bank revealed its plans to leverage blockchain technology to create Citibank tokens, which will be backed by institutional savings. These tokens aim to facilitate instantaneous cross-border transactions, operating 24/7 without the limitations of traditional banking hours or international borders.

Bitcoin, often hailed as “digital gold” and a store of value, has faced both optimism and skepticism since its inception. While some see it as the future of global finance, others view it as a speculative asset prone to volatility. Citibank’s move to introduce its blockchain-based tokens could potentially challenge Bitcoin’s status as the premier digital asset.

Citibank’s tokens, backed by the credibility and stability of a major financial institution, may attract investors seeking a more secure and regulated digital asset. This development could lead to increased competition between Bitcoin and Citibank’s blockchain-based tokens, potentially impacting Bitcoin’s market dominance.

The US dollar, long considered the world’s primary reserve currency, has faced its share of challenges in recent years, including inflation concerns and geopolitical uncertainties. Citibank’s blockchain technology could potentially offer an alternative means for cross-border transactions that is not reliant on the US dollar.

As more institutions adopt blockchain-based solutions like Citibank’s, the traditional financial system’s reliance on the US dollar may gradually diminish. This could have far-reaching consequences for the global financial landscape, including potential shifts in currency preferences and a reduced role for the US dollar in international trade.

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Kuwait Authorities Unanimously Ban the Use of Virtual Assets

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In a collective effort, the regulatory authorities in Kuwait, represented by the Central Bank of Kuwait, the Capital Markets Authority, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and the Insurance Regulation Unit, have issued directives to ban the use cryptocurrencies and other unregulated virtual assets within the country.

The Kuwaiti Capital Markets Authority stated in an announcement released on Tuesday that these recommendations are provided by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. The issued directives impose an “absolute ban” on most digital currency transactions, including their use for payments or investments, as well as the prohibition of mining activities. Additionally, the regulatory authority restricts local authorities from granting licenses to companies seeking to provide services related to virtual assets as business activities.

The announcement states that the comprehensive ban does not include securities and other financial instruments regulated by the Central Bank of Kuwait and the Capital Markets Authority. The primary objective of these directives is to safeguard users from the risks associated with virtual assets. These proactive measures represent a significant step by the Kuwaiti authorities to mitigate the risks linked to investing in such assets, often used for speculative purposes.

The continuous awareness campaigns launched by regulatory authorities in Kuwait caution cryptocurrency users, especially those dealing with popular digital currencies such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Dogecoin (DOGE), and others, about the potential risks associated with their usage and investment.

Moreover, since 2017, the Central Bank of Kuwait has prohibited commercial banks and other financial institutions from processing any transactions involving Bitcoin. In May 2021, the bank reaffirmed the illegality of digital currencies in the country.

Before the ban, Kuwait did not impose taxes on income derived from digital currencies, leaving the door open for investors in the crypto space.

Mining companies had previously shown interest in establishing a base in Kuwait due to its low electricity costs. However, the recent campaign has closed the door on crypto investments and mining activities within Kuwait.

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