Telegram Releases Crypto Wallet Despite Recent SEC Lawsuit 

Telegram, the messaging app company turned blockchain startup, has released an early desktop wallet for its “gram” token.

Now users can download the test app for MacOS, Windows and Linux 64 bit on Telegram’s official website and get their keys on the TON testnet. The wallet asks users to save 24 seed words and create a password for payments, after which the wallet is ready to receive and send grams.

TON, an ambitious blockchain project by Telegram, which raised $1.7 billion in a closed token sale last year, had been previously scheduled to launch until October 31. In September, the team released the code for a full node, a validator node and block explorer, signaling that the project had been on its way to launch.

However, the launch was postponed after Telegram was sued by the SEC, which deemed grams to be unregistered securities and asked the court to prevent Telegram from delivering tokens to investors. Telegram subsequently got an approval from investors to postpone the launch until April 31, 2020, to win more time to clear the situation with the SEC.

The company is going to meet the SEC in court on February 18 and 19, 2020, in New York. (Neutral)

A Single Whale on Bitfinex Likely Manipulated Bitcoin’s Historic Surge 

According to two U.S. academics, a single market whale on cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex likely manipulated bitcoin’s historic surge of over 2,000% in 2017.

John Griffin, a professor at the University of Texas and Amin Shams, an assistant professor at Ohio State University, have jointly updated a paper they first published in 2018, saying that one entity on Bitfinex moved the bitcoin’s prices in 2017. 

The updated, peer-reviewed paper, shared with Bloomberg and set to be published in a forthcoming Journal of Finance, examined stablecoin tether (USDT) and bitcoin (BTC) transactions, concluding that BTC purchases on Bitfinex increased whenever bitcoin’s value fell by certain increments.

“Our results suggest instead of thousands of investors moving the price of Bitcoin, it’s just one large one,” Griffin told Bloomberg, adding: “Years from now, people will be surprised to learn investors handed over billions to people they didn’t know and who faced little oversight.”

Bitfinex general counsel Stuart Hoegner rejected the claims, saying that the paper is “foundationally flawed” because it is based on an insufficient data set. “This is a transparent attempt to use the semblance of academia for a mercenary money grab. Updates or not, the paper lacks academic rigor,” Hoegner said. (Neutral)

BritishTax Authority Updates Cryptocurrency Guidelines

The United Kingdom’s tax, payments and customs authority, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), has updated its cryptocurrency taxation guidelines for businesses and individuals.

On Nov. 1, the U.K. government tax agency, which manages taxes alongside other financial policies, released tax guidance updates that further clarify its stance on how businesses and individuals involved with cryptocurrency will be taxed.  

The guidelines set out HMRC’s view on cryptocurrency transactions, which taxes apply, how to file tax returns and accounting practices, among others. It also considers the taxation of exchange tokens, while stating that rules for utility or security tokens will be added in the future.

Companies that buy or sell tokens, mine, exchange tokens for other assets or provide goods or services in return for tokens are liable to pay for one or more different types of tax. Those taxes include income tax, corporation tax, capital gains tax, stamp taxes and National Insurance contributions. 

The tax authority explicitly stated that it does not consider any of the current types of cryptocurrencies to be money or currency.

HMRC further recognized that the cryptocurrency sector is a fast-moving one and it will therefore look at the facts of each case separately and apply the relevant tax provisions according to what has actually taken place, rather than by relying on theory alone.

HMRC had previously considered cryptocurrency trading to be the same as gambling. However, the latest tax guidance update states that the agency does not consider the buying and selling of cryptocurrencies as such. (Neutral)

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