Germany this year emerged as the most crypto-friendly country in the world.
Coincub researched 46 countries and then ranked Germany, Singapore, the United States, Australia, and Switzerland as the top 5 countries globally that are most favorable to digital currencies.
To determine the rankings, the researchers used quantitative numbers such as crypto transactions, mining volumes, government legislation, the institutional stance of central banks and local financial sectors, taxation, education, and even ICOs’ commitment to environmental issues.
Germany jumped to the top of the list in the first quarter of the year. The result is mainly due to Germany’s high institutional crypto adoption and progressive crypto tax policies.
The landmark decision to make crypto assets part of the vast domestic savings industry marks German institutions’ high level of acceptance and a bright future for crypto.
German financial institutions see digital assets as long-term investments for individual savers. Their conglomerates are about to open up crypto trading. If approved, it will enable 50 million customers to trade and hold cryptocurrencies.
North Korean Hackers Group Lazarus Behind Ronin Hack
On Wednesday, March 23, the Ronin Network, the Ethereum-based blockchain that powers the popular NFT game Axie Infinity, reported one of the largest hacks in crypto history, losing $625 million.
The U.S. Treasury now claims the North Korean hacking group Lazarus was the group behind the $625 million hacks of the Ronin network last month.
On April 14, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that it had added a new Ethereum wallet address to its sanctions list against the Lazarus Group.
The Ethereum wallet address listed by the U.S. Treasury is the same address that Sky Mavis, creator of Axie Infinity, calls the “Ronin Bridge Exploiter.”
Additionally, Chainalysis confirmed that the address is the same one used in the Ronin exploit.
Eventually, the FBI traces the earliest attacks back to what the Lazarus Group called a government-sponsored hacking group in 2009.
Despite several high-profile cyberattacks, including the Sony Pictures breach in 2014 and multiple drug raids in 2020, this is the first time the Treasury Department has publicly linked and blacklisted Lazarus-linked crypto wallet addresses.
Since the attack, Sky Mavis has been working to compensate users lost to the hack. They try hard to improve its security before redeploying the Ronin Bridge.
Russia Proposes Crypto Payments with African Countries
Sergey Katilin, chairman of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, proposed using cryptocurrencies and central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) for cross-border settlements. The proposals come under special sanctions that limit Russia’s ability to trade internationally.
In a letter to Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishutin, Katilin offered suggestions for strengthening economic ties with African countries.
In addition, the CEO proposed to both departments to create a new settlement mechanism. The mechanism is about import and export payments with using cryptocurrencies.
Besides, Catlin stressed that the development of such cooperation with friendly regions is crucial for the Russian Federation.
In detail, the proposals come as growing Western demands for the war in Ukraine continue to limit Moscow’s access to global finance and its foreign bank reserves.
Meanwhile, the western world is suspicious that Russian banks use cryptocurrencies to avoid sanctions.
However, the Treasury Department is spearheading efforts to legalize it. They say the penalties encourage Russia to develop its crypto market infrastructure.
Portuguese Regulator Grants First Crypto License to Bank
Portuguese bank Bison Bank has gained a license from the Central Bank of Portugal to operate as a VASP. VASP stands for the Virtual Asset Service Provider and grants the bank to become the first bank to receive regulatory approval.
The Bank of Portugal updated its virtual asset service providers list on Thursday. The bank has added “Bison Digital Assets” as the fifth licensed cryptocurrency exchange in the country.
According to local media reports, the company is newly established. It is run by Bison Bank, which is wholly owned by a Hong Kong-based Chinese private equity firm and will offer crypto services to wealthy clients.
In April 2021, legislation to regulate cryptocurrency exchanges was enacted under a licensing scheme run by the central bank. In late June this year, the government granted licenses to businesses Mind The Coin and Criptoloja. These were the first two VASPs with licenses to operate in the country.
In March 2021, the regulator granted Utrust its first “all categories” VASP license, which allows the exchange to provide cryptocurrency exchange, transfers to wallet addresses, and private key custody and storage and deliver fiat lanes.
Portugal has long been famous for being a crypto-friendly country and a crypto tax haven. There is no capital gains tax or personal income tax on cryptocurrencies unless it is the sole income of an individual, as Portugal considers cryptocurrencies a means of payment or currency, not an asset.
In April 2020, the country laid out plans to create technology-free zones (ZLTs) where companies can test products and services. The government has said it intends to test blockchain technology as part of its digital transformation plan.
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