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The government of Hawaii has launched a blockchain and cryptocurrency incubator named ‘Digital Currency Innovation Lab’ in collaboration with the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Division of Financial Institution (DFI), and the Hawaii Technology Development Corporation (HTDC).
As per the official announcement, this incubator (which will be operational for two years) will enable “digital currency issuers to do business in Hawaii without obtaining a state money transmitter license during the effective period of the pilot program.” The government claimed that, through this initiative, it aims to gather an in-depth understanding of digital currencies and formulate cryptocurrency regulations for the future.
Hawaii’s attempt to attract crypto firms
Ever since Hawaii introduced the double-reserve requirement back in 2017, this is Hawaii’s first attempt to attract crypto firms. Iris Ikeda, Hawaii’s commissioner of financial institutions, stated that the organization has directed the companies operating under the sandbox to not take any action, in order to prevent regulatory recourse. He added, “DFI is leveraging its statutory authority to provide an innovative way to introduce digital currency issuers into the State of Hawaii, while ensuring the safety of our consumers. By acknowledging digital currencies as a transmission vehicle of the future, we will be able to craft legislation that is conducive to its development in Hawaii.”
Len Higashi, interim executive director of the HTDC is hopeful that this program will help Hawaii to establish itself as a leader in financial technology and drive economic growth.
As per the directive, participating companies will be required to pay an application fee of $500 before 1st May 2020, apart from $1,000 for each term of participation.
Crypto Regulations in Hawaii
HTDC acknowledged that the ‘Digital Currency Innovation Lab’ initiative is aimed to help companies struggling with the double reserve requirements. However, crypto regulations and the country’s way forward in this regard is still ambiguous.
According to an official release on the website of HTDC, at the end of the two year program, participating companies will have to complete all digital currency transactions, after which the DFI will grant appropriate licenses to continue operations.
Amid the massive outbreak of COVID-19, Venezuela is under national quarantine. With 33 cases confirmed in the country, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has declared a national shutdown including financial organizations like banks, in order to prevent the community spreading of the disease. In this scenario, it has been noticed that peer to peer Bitcoin trading has taken off in Venezuela.
Banking Shutdown and Rise of Crypto trading volume
Venezuela’s banking system is at a standstill as of now. Under these circumstances, P2P trading in cryptocurrencies has taken off. Over the past two weeks, the Localbitcoins trade activity between BTC and the bolivar has recovered over $3.4 million. Peru and Colombia have also witnessed a 30% and 15% spike in Localbitcoins volume respectively. All in all, the grave economic consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in an uptrend in cryptocurrency adoption across South America.
COVID-19 is affecting Venezuela’s Petro dreams
Venezuela’s oil-backed cryptocurrency Petro does not seem to be in a good state as of now. The COVID-19 outbreak has caused a major setback in Venezuela’s efforts to drive the adoption of Petro.
In January, President Maduro launched Petro-powered casino, and announced that all profits from the venture will be directed towards funding health and education programs. However, there has not been any major initiative in regard to driving Petro adoption after January.
As of now, Petro does not seem to be performing well. As per the Localbitcoins listings, the citizens of Venezuela are offloading Petro at almost half of its fixed value i.e $60.
Crypto Market amid COVID-19
Despite the surge in crypto adoption across South America, the overall market scenario still remains gloomy. However, it seems that the crypto space could well witness a major spike soon. Prominent personalities like Arthur Hayes, BitMEX CEO are pretty sure that BTC could well hit the $20K mark by the end of 2020.
Norwegian technology company opera has long been working towards achieving its Web 3.0 dream. As a part of that process, the Opera browser will now offer cryptocurrency purchases to its users in the US. This facility will be available in both mobile and desktop browser versions. Opera is executing this in collaboration with a U.S.-licensed money transmitter named Wyre.
Opera users will now be able to buy Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) directly from their crypto wallet in the Opera browser. Android and Apple users will need to use their debit cards and Apple Pay account respectively to make the purchases.
Crypto purchases using the Opera mobile browser is already functional for over a year in the countries of Sweden, Denmark, and Norway.
Opera’s crypto plans ahead
As of now, opera holds a fairly small market share in the US -at around 0.48%. In Europe, it has captured about 2.13% share. However, it is looking forward to rolling out crypto top-up facilities in other countries in the near future – starting with the US.
Opera has claimed that users can start buying crypto using the Apple Pay solution in as less as 30 seconds.
Opera’s crypto head, Charles Hamel commented, “In the past, obtaining cryptocurrencies was a cumbersome process that took hours or even days. When you compare it with this seamless solution, which takes less than 30 seconds, it really is a gamechanger.”
As of now, Opera claims to serve 320 million people worldwide.
A bit about Opera
The company has been in service for more than 24 years. However, it has somehow been overshadowed by the likes of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc. In a quest to remain relevant, Opera is now looking to ease up the process of crypto adoption across the globe. It seems to have started the process by introducing a crypto wallet, a DApp explorer, and other security and privacy tools.
It would be interesting to note, how Opera’s crypto ambitions shape up in the near future.