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Google Bans Crypto Ads

Samantha Mitchell

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Google is the latest to ban crypto related advertising and initial coin offerings (ICO) after a review of their financial services policy. The ban also affects other risky financial products that Google terms as ‘unregulated and speculative.’ It will take effect from June 2018.

According to the updated Google policy, any contents related to Cryptocurrencies will no longer be allowed on Google ad words platform. This includes Initial coin offerings, Cryptocurrency wallets, Cryptocurrency exchanges and even trading advice on Cryptocurrency.

So, beginning June, expect not to see crypto ads on YouTube, those that appear alongside search results as well as ads on third party sites on the company’s ad platform.

Follows Facebook’s Ban

The search company’s ban follows that made by Facebook in January with claims of scam and deception in promotional practices by the Crypto sites. Rumors are that the ban was as a result of pressure from the FBI.

However, the ban on Facebook did not entirely eliminate all crypto ads. Clever advertisers found ways to get back into the system by deliberately misspelling words. For example, replacing letter “o” with zero and letter “I” with number one in the phrase Bitcoin.

However, Google says they are anticipating these workarounds and are working to eliminate all these possibilities. It will be interesting to note the developments that follow this ban.

As for Twitter, the company is still making baby steps in combating crypto scammers. The company does not have a specific policy on crypto or ICO related ads. However, the ban on Facebook and Google sure is a wake-up call for Twitter. We should expect clarity on its policy latter in the year

Started A Long Time Ago

Even as the battle is set to start in June, the war began a long time ago. In 2017 alone, Google is said to have taken down over 3 billion ads (twice that of 2016) that were in violation of the company policy. It is speculated that Google had already started restrictions on Cryptocurrency last week. That could be the reason for the drop in performance of ICO-related ads the same time.

Exceptions

Google went ahead and stated that ads for regulators and affiliates offering contracts for difference, financial spread betting and rolling spot Forex (which would also be affected alongside Cryptocurrencies) have an option of certification by Google themselves and will only be available in specific countries. The policy does not mention crypto in this additional information. Why?

You see, the advertisers would need to be licensed by the financial authority in the target country, ensure they are in compliance with the ad word policy and comply with legal requirements to operate. Now, crypto has no regulation whatsoever, and you get the idea of why it was not considered.

As aforementioned, Google has been actively cracking down scam sites, misleading contents and sites that redirect users to malware-ridden sites. In 2017, at least 7,000 customer accounts have been suspended, the same year that Google recorded the highest number of pulled down ads.

With a 95.4 billion dollar ad business, the ban on Cryptocurrency will be insignificant. As insignificant as it is to Google, the same is being experienced with Bitcoin’s unchanged numbers as at press time

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Cryptocurrencies: cheapair.com To Change Bitcoin Payment Processors

Samantha Mitchell

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Cryptocurrencies: cheapair.com To Change Bitcoin Payment Processors

The Background

Cheapair.com was the first in the travel industry to make the move to taking Bitcoin payments in 2013. Both flight and hotel bookings have been able to be made with the Bitcoin Cryptocurrency. However, the online travel agency has recently announced to its customers – on the 20th April 2018 – through the company blog that it will be changing the backend of its payment processing. Jeff Klee, CEO, told customers that their current provider – Coinbase – will stop supporting the way that cheapair.com processes it’s payments. The worrying fact is that this is happening in a matter of weeks rather than months! Jeff Klee is currently looking for a solution and a new supplier.

The Possible Solution

One of the main concerns that CheapAir.com has with merging with the Bitpay technology is the simple fact that Bitpay does not support wallets that are not compliant with BIP-70. Customers who currently have a non-compliant wallet will, therefore, have to move swiftly now and secure another wallet to ensure a smooth transition.

However, the above is not all bad news as cheapair.com is now using this as an excuse to upgrade so that the agency can now accept payments from Bitcoin Cash, Dash, and Litecoin. This is already in the testing stage.

The CEO is also looking at setting up a more dedicated and specialized Cryptocurrency customer service team. Customers can call or email the team to request support from advisors that are trained and experienced with Cryptocurrencies. The CEO has admitted that there have been frustrations in the past with the lack of technical knowledge in his customer service team and has taken full responsibility for this promising to rectify the issue now.

Furthermore, there will be upgrades to the online travel agency’s financial procedures. At the moment, some of the processes are not as streamlined as they could be. The aim is to automate refunds as a starting point.

Jeff Klee has been extremely candid with the details provided and has admitted that their current supplier Coinbase is no longer providing the service that they need and has left them with no alternative but to find someone else to process their payments at the last minute. He has also been very honest to state that their plan is to integrate with Bitpay. However, this move will mean that it may be disappointing for some customers who will need to secure another compatible wallet for Bitpay as an intermediary stage.

The company is putting a positive spin on the whole episode which is the only way to move forward and it is refreshing to see a company make the most of a situation that they have been forced into. The CEO has really driven the company to look at ways to improve their service for their customers. He has – probably more importantly – reached out to customers to ask their opinion on whether they would feel comfortable to purchase another wallet that is compatible with Bitpay. He has actually provided his own business email address so that customers can contact him directly. A bold move and one that will be interesting to follow.

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Cryptocurrencies: Tighter Regulations In Europe

Samantha Mitchell

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Cryptocurrencies: Tighter Regulations In Europe

The Background

As changes and upgrades in Cryptocurrencies continue to occur and the industry develops, so do the regulations surrounding this new concept.

The European Parliament unanimously this week voted – by a large majority – to support a December 2017 agreement around the use of Cryptocurrencies. The total regulation of Cryptocurrencies is moving closer and closer. This will be great for all concerned and sets a firm precedent in how things are moving forward in this industry.

The European Parliament members voted to agree with the European Council regulations on vital issues such as the prevention of the rise of Cryptocurrencies in money laundering as well as terrorism. The vote was a very clean and redefining moment with 574 for yes and only 13 for no, with 60 absentees.

This is a very strong message for the European community not only addressing anonymity of financial services but also implementing rules on exchanges and platform providers. Now it means that everyone has to be registered with the authorities and will have to apply for due diligence procedures – including customer verification – before receiving the OK from the government. Quite a big moment for the European community.

Moving Forward

The new regulations will not take long to put into force… in fact, they will be running in three days as stated in the Official Journal of the European Union. Once this is in place, the member states will have 18 months to bring all of these new country laws into their constitutions. However, it is not expected that it will take this long to implement these new laws, as countries are very keen to protect themselves against the evils of Cryptocurrency as soon as possible. There are many robberies, kidnapping, and the likes already being reported and industry is eager to protect itself as soon as possible to alleviate a huge crime wave before it actually hits. Changes are absolutely vital in the prevention of money laundering, tax evasion, and criminal activity. As experts highlight, criminals have not stopped, and there is still a lot of bad behavior going on, whether it is laundering or finance terrorism, it is still happening all the while there is money to be gained. This new legislation just solidifies things, helps to support those living in the country and makes them feel safer.

Governments are completely exposed at the moment with Cryptocurrency because it is such a new industry and so completely unknown. There are also so many ways to exploit the system. Until the industry settles down and becomes more stable, with government officials realizing where the loopholes are, this is going to be a tricky road ahead. These tougher measures will hopefully break open the duty of financial companies and help them to undertake due care and diligence. However, this is absolutely not a given. Money laundering and tax evasion is rife no matter where you are in the world and especially so in a new and developing industry.

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Crypto Mining: The South Koreans Are Tightening The Import Of Crypto Mining Chips

Samantha Mitchell

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Crypto Mining: The South Koreans Are Tightening The Import Of Crypto Mining Chips

Importing Mining Chips Is Getting Harder

Following the huge influx of mining chips over recent months, the Korean Customs Service has now implemented stricter rules on the import of these chips. This will make it harder for the Cryptocurrency miners in South Korea to get these internationally produced chips sent into the country.

The Korean Customs Service has now listed mining chips as an item, which needs to meet their regulations before they are released into the country. The chips will be scrutinized against current laws as well as safety and sanitization certifications before they are allowed into South Korea.

These new rules have been implemented following the upsurge in imports recently. It has been reported that in November and December 2017, approximately 1.3 billion Korean Won ($1.2 million) worth of mining chips were imported into the country. The Korean Customs Service stated that this amount was spread through 454 imports of mining chips.

Why The Changes And Concern?

As is well documented and known, the industry is still very much unknown, and suppliers / providers are being very cautious because of this simple fact. The South Koreans are just being careful at the moment and ensuring that nothing untoward happens to the mining machines once they have entered the country. There is a large amount of power consumption and heating required to run these machines, and the Korean Customs Service will be double checking everything to alleviate any possible fires from breaking out around the country as a direct result of mining. This is even more important when you consider that there is very little known about just how much power is required to run these machines.

Going forward, there will be strict examinations of mining machines whenever they enter the country. Safety will be the main area of concern and machines will be assessed based on the laws of the importation of electronic goods. The laws were implemented and are governed by the National Radio Research Agency.

There is widespread worry that illegal mining activities will raise electricity costs in the country and increase the risk of fire if not controlled well. Again this is very much an unknown. Both the public and private sectors have shared their worries and are now working hard to restrict illegality. This is certainly a hot topic for the South Korean Police who have already arrested 14 individuals from 13 companies for accessing cheap power to mine Cryptocurrencies. This was further to the banning of mining Cryptocurrencies inside of a building of a retail marketplace in Seoul earlier in the year. Nothing actually caught fire, but there was anxiety that something would and that the power/building would overheat.

Although South Korea is one of the first to implement such sanctions on importation, it will not be long before others follow suit. Something that must now be expected as this merging market expands. Countries and governments will continue to be attentive when it comes to mining until more about the industry and its effects are known.

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