Only 39 Percent Pass Malta’s Cryptocurrency Exam for Financial Services Practitioners

Only 39 Percent Pass Malta’s Cryptocurrency Exam for Financial Services Practitioners

Regulation

The pass rate for the exam developed by the Maltese government for financial services practitioners seeking to obtain cryptocurrency agent certification is reportedly only 39 percent. The exam is part of the requirements mandated by the country’s newly established Virtual Financial Assets Act.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Low Pass Rate

Only 39 Percent Pass Malta’s Cryptocurrency Exam for Financial Services PractitionersUnder Malta’s Virtual Financial Assets (VFA) Act, practitioners who wish to act as agents in the field that includes cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs) must successfully complete a short training course and pass an exam.

Noting that the first exam took place in September, the Times of Malta reported on Thursday:

Nearly two-thirds of those applying for cryptocurrency agent certification failed the official assessment process despite last-second changes intended to boost the pass rate.

Only 39 Percent Pass Malta’s Cryptocurrency Exam for Financial Services PractitionersThe exam was set by the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) and administered by the Institute of Financial Services Practitioners.

The news outlet quoted sources revealing that about 250 lawyers, accountants, and auditors took the exam, which consisted of a series of multiple choice questions. “Once the exam papers were graded, it became clear the pass rate was extremely low,” the publication conveyed, adding that “Even after the changes the pass rate was just 39 percent.”

License Required

According to the MFSA’s consultation document for VFA service providers, “any person who is providing a VFA service … shall within twelve months apply for a license with the competent authority in terms of Article 14 to the Act,” the CBS Group described.

Only 39 Percent Pass Malta’s Cryptocurrency Exam for Financial Services PractitionersThe MFSA wrote, “It has also become evident that certain industry players are not sufficiently prepared to register as VFA agents.” The regulator, therefore, proposes a number of additional rules for them to comply. They include increasing the initial and ongoing capital requirements as well as regulatory fees. In addition, the MFSA proposes “introducing a rigorous competence assessment” and “a mandatory requirement for Continuous Professional Education.”

The Times of Malta elaborated, “The VFA Act is one of three new laws forming part of the government’s ‘Blockchain Island’ strategy and which seek to regulate the blockchain and cryptocurrency sector,” adding that “It will enter into force in November.” Other than trading cryptocurrencies and issuing ICOs, the publication explained:

Companies looking to provide other virtual financial asset services, such as portfolio management or investment advice, also need an agent to apply for a licence.

What do you think of the low pass rate for the Maltese cryptocurrency agent certification exam? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and MFSA.


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Venezuela Authorizes 6 Exchanges to Start Selling National Cryptocurrency Petro

Venezuela Authorizes 6 Exchanges to Start Selling National Cryptocurrency Petro

Regulation

Venezuela has authorized six cryptocurrency exchanges to start selling its national cryptocurrency, the petro, according to the government’s website. The petro, which recently became a Venezuelan national currency, can now be purchased at the six exchanges, local media report.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Six Websites Authorized to Sell Petro

The Venezuelan government has authorized six websites it claims are cryptocurrency exchanges to market and sell the petro, the country’s new national currency. Noticiero Digital elaborated:

The petro will be available from this Wednesday, October 17, at six exchanges, although President Maduro announced previously that there would be 16 certified companies that could market the digital currency.

The six places are Cave Blockchain (caveblockchain.com), Bancar (bancarexchange.io), Cryptia (cryptiaexchange.com), Amberes Coin (amberescoin.com), Afx Trade (afx.trade), and Criptolago (criptolago.com.ve). Some of them are already advertising the petro on their websites. In his speech earlier this month, Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro said that the petro would be available at “the six most powerful [exchanges] in the world.”

Venezuela Authorizes 6 Exchanges to Start Selling National Cryptocurrency PetroThe petro section on Cryptia.

Cryptia’s website lists three cryptocurrencies for trading against BTC — ETH, DASH, and XRP — but with zero trading volumes. “Buy and sell petros through our platform,” the section on its website describing the petro reads, adding (translated from Spanish):

Access the cryptocurrency [petro] in bolivares and exchange them for bitcoin, ethereum or American dollars.

Amberes Coin describes itself as a cryptocurrency exchange “authorized by the Venezuelan State for the purchase and sale of the petro, bitcoin, ether and any digital assets” that are allowed by the country’s regulation. Afx Trade explained that it is a regulated cryptocurrency exchange platform in Venezuela for buying, selling, and safeguarding “digital assets inside and outside the national territory.”

Venezuela Authorizes 6 Exchanges to Start Selling National Cryptocurrency PetroMaduro’s government released a new whitepaper for the petro earlier this month, bearing striking resemblance to the whitepaper for another cryptocurrency, DASH.

In addition, the petro is no longer only backed by oil, as it was first described in December of last year. The new whitepaper explains that the petro is now backed by 50 percent oil, 20 percent gold, 20 percent iron, and 10 percent diamond.

In April, Maduro announced that he had “authorized the certification” of 16 exchanges for the petro. Noting that there are currently only six exchanges authorized, Noticiero Digital pointed out that Afx Trade was not included in the initial list of 16 exchanges.

Regulating Crypto Industry in Venezuela

Venezuela Authorizes 6 Exchanges to Start Selling National Cryptocurrency PetroIn Venezuela, the National Superintendency of Criptoassets and Related Activities (Sunacrip) is responsible for regulating cryptocurrencies and all crypto-related activities.

Its website details:

Exchanges need licenses issued by the Venezuelan State in order to operate in Venezuela. Its reason lies in the protection of users of exchanges with regulatory and administrative infrastructure.

Digital mining in Venezuela is regulated by the Intendence of Digital Mining, which is part of Sunacrip. “The Intendence of Digital Mining is in charge of planning, coordinating, promoting and executing all the digital mining and related activities in Venezuela,” Sunacrip’s website describes. “This includes issuing licenses [and] certifications for all mining activities.”

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What do you think of the petro? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and the Venezuelan government.


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African Cryptocurrency Exchanges Forced to Step up Security

African Digital Currency Exchanges Step up Security to Safeguard Investor Funds

Exchanges

Cryptocurrency exchanges in some of Africa’s biggest bitcoin markets have been forced to rethink their security to thwart persistent attacks from hackers, a trend that has troubled trading platforms all around the world.

Also read: Cointext Launches Bitcoin Cash SMS Wallet in Argentina and Turkey

The Worst Yet to Come for African Exchanges

African Digital Currency Exchanges Step up Security to Safeguard Investor FundsExchanges in the African continent have been relatively unscathed, suffering scant losses amidst the $930 million that’s been stolen from global exchanges so far this year, according to data by U.S. cyber security firm Ciphertrace.

The most notable assault on investor funds in the continent of 1.2 billion people happened around March in South Africa. It wasn’t a cyber attack on an exchange, but rather a scam. Fraudsters at BTC Global, a supposed cryptocurrency investment firm, made off with about one billion rand ($80 million) after 28,000 South Africans succumbed to the false promise of incredibly high, quick returns on their investment, police said.

As thefts have stoked exchanges worldwide, some African platforms have woken up to the need to strengthen their security to safeguard investor funds. This is particularly crucial in a continent where cryptocurrency markets are populated by people who trade with a certain degree of ignorance in many cases, lured by the promise of quick riches. Incidents of fraud or stolen money can smear a market struggling to build confidence in the absence of regulatory oversight.

“We have noticed a number of attempts to breach our system but we have managed to maintain our defenses and we keep on learning,” Suleiman Murunga, chief executive officer at Ugandan exchange Coinpesa, told news.Bitcoin.com.

African Digital Currency Exchanges Step up Security to Safeguard Investor FundsSuleiman Murunga

“We (now) use suspicious activity monitoring tools to track user behavior in order to spot bad actors,” he said, adding that the company, one of the biggest in the East African country, also uses two-factor authentication.

Murunga stated that only a small portion of investor funds held on the exchange are kept in a hot wallet, of the kind targeted by hackers. The bulk of the funds are held offline, in cold storage.

Don’t Blame the Trading Platform – Blame the User

When breaches occur, exchanges are not always to blame. Sometimes investors simply aren’t careful. There have been instances where attackers gained access to individual accounts on the Zimbabwean exchange Golix before its forced shutdown in May, taking advantage of email password vulnerabilities to facilitate transactions.

Although no money was stolen, the 23 affected users noticed some changes to their accounts such as the conversion of their cryptocurrencies and the acquisition of additional coins through U.S. dollar balances they held in their accounts. This is according to Golix, which now has a presence in seven African countries. Back then, the exchange didn’t ask investors for 2FA upon signing up.

In Nigeria, Africa’s biggest bitcoin market, where trades reached $260 million on just one exchange this year, the threat of cyber attacks is real. In 2016, the Ibadan-based Naira4dollar firm didn’t receive the $15,000 worth of BTC it had bought to replenish its wallets after an attacker hacked into the trading platform’s system.

African Digital Currency Exchanges Step up Security to Safeguard Investor FundsLagos, Nigeria

Investors in Nigeria and Ghana also fell victim to a $50 million hack of the Blockchain.info wallet, allegedly by Ukrainian hacker group Coinhoarder earlier this year. In the streets of Lagos, scammers take on false identities, infiltrating exchanges and various social media platforms promising outrageously high returns.

David Ayala, chief executive officer of Nairaex, which has more than 100,000 customers on its books, said all digital coins on the Nigerian exchange are stored “securely offline with Bitgo industry standards of multi-sig wallet.”

“Our platform is developed using best practices from the financial sector to maintain users’ security. We have maintained a secured network architecture since launch and we run scheduled tests and checks on the system for reliability,” he detailed, in emailed responses.

Is a Foolproof Security System Possible?

Often, hackers and scammers are a step ahead of their targeted victims, increasing the risk of persistent attacks. But will African exchanges ever implement foolproof security systems, or something approaching that ideal? William Chui, a Zimbabwean cryptocurrency enthusiast and former VP at Golix, proposed “A ‘walk-in’ model, where users [enter a physical premises] to buy [cryptocurrency] and are served while they wait.” It’s a model that’s proven popular in other countries such as South Korea.

He conceded, however, “This is not scalable nor feasible with the internet and will prove to be too slow. I doubt we can get a foolproof, secure system, but the [aim] will be to minimize losses as much as possible.”

Chui recommends that exchanges “invest in a technical development department that will continually penetrate the website, and offer bounties for external developers to do the same … Store a larger percentage of clients’ funds in cold wallets.”

African Digital Currency Exchanges Step up Security to Safeguard Investor Funds

Pesamill Africa in Kenya has gone as far as adopting Australian cryptocurrency industry regulations as part of efforts to align with global best practice. “We have built an exchange that fosters both peer-to-peer and centralized transactions in a safe and secure manner,” Brian Ngugi, Pesamill chief executive, told news.Bitcoin.com.

Whatever the case, African exchanges are at a stage in their development that holds a lot of promise for the growth of cryptocurrency use on the continent. Regulators will eventually step in, as is happening elsewhere worldwide. This will occur, not only to regulate and claim tax, but to make the cryptocurrency space stronger and sustainable.

What do you think about the level of security at African digital currency exchanges? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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