Mexico lawmakers aim to follow the example of neighboring countries with proposed Bitcoin legislation

“We are going to lead the shift to crypto and fintech in Mexico,” said one senator.

Eduardo Murat Hinojosa, a senator of the federal government of Mexico, has said he will be submitting a proposal to lawmakers seemingly aimed at crypto adoption in the country.

In a tweet today, Hinojosa changed his profile picture to feature the senator speaking into a microphone with the iconic “laser eyes,” indicating support for crypto. The lawmaker said he would be “promoting and proposing a legal framework for crypto coins in Mexico’s lower house,” specifically mentioning Bitcoin (BTC).

Hinojosa was not the only Mexico lawmaker indicating their support for crypto. Indira Kempis Martinez, a senator representing the state of Nuevo León, has also switched her profile to show laser eyes, with Hinojosa referring to her as a friend to the cause.

“We are going to lead the shift to crypto and fintech in Mexico,” said Hinojosa.

The social media activity comes as countries in Latin America have seemingly been taking steps towards greater adoption of crypto. In a video announcement to attendees of the Bitcoin 2021 conference last week, El Salvador President Nayib Bukele said he would send a bill to the country’s legislature demanding that Bitcoin be made legal tender.

On Sunday, Paraguayan congressperson Carlitos Rejala hinted that crypto would be connected to “an important project to innovate Paraguay in front of the world” starting this week. Yesterday he added that he was working with local crypto figures “in order for Paraguay to become a hub for the crypto investors of the world.”

Though Mexico has many individual investors who back Bitcoin, authorities in the country reported last year that cartels had been increasing their use of crypto to launder funds. At the time, the head of the Mexican attorney general’s Cyber Investigations Unit said the country’s law enforcement lacked the resources needed to tackle money laundering when crypto was involved.

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Miami mayor aiming for ‘the most progressive crypto laws’

“We want to make sure that we believe that if all things are equal, we win,” said Mayor Francis Suarez.

Francis Suarez, who has served as the mayor of Miami since 2017, wants to make the city the most attractive in the United States for those in the crypto and blockchain industry.

In an interview with Forbes published Sunday, Suarez said lawmakers in Miami were looking into the policies of crypto-friendly areas like Wyoming and New York in an effort to promote regulatory incentives for crypto and blockchain in Florida.

“[Miami is] making sure that we have the most progressive crypto laws,” said Suarez. “We want to make sure that we believe that if all things are equal, we win. So, we just want to equalize the playing field. We want to make sure that nobody has an advantage over us based on laws that are easily changeable.”

Mayor Suarez did not describe the race to be the regulatory winner as a fight between lawmakers in other jurisdictions. Rather, he gave Wyoming “kudos for being smart” in attracting crypto firms, but added that “every city in America and in the world should be trying to grow its technology ecosystem.”

“We’re working on making sure that our incentives are in place and that our legislation promotes crypto and blockchain and is forward-thinking.”

The mayor has already made several bullish statements on Bitcoin (BTC) and crypto in recent weeks, including having Miami consider letting city employees to get paid in BTC rather than U.S. dollars. He also proposed allowing Miami residents to pay for local fees and taxes using crypto as well as investing some of the city’s treasury into Bitcoin, a task he called “the hardest” of the three ideas.

He has already spoken with a few high-profile figures in the crypto community including a meeting with Gemini co-founders Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss. Earlier this month, Tyler said that the mayor is “leading the way for governments and Bitcoin.”

Mayor Suarez did not provide a timeline as to when these actions may take effect for Miami’s 450,000 residents, but some in the crypto community have seemingly taken notice. Last week, Bitcoin 2021 announced it would be moving from Los Angeles to Miami for its June crypto conference.

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XRP sinks below LTC again after new lawsuit from major investor

XRP has fallen below Litecoin by market cap after a major investor filed a new lawsuit against Ripple.

XRP has once again lost its place as the fourth-largest cryptocurrency, with lawsuits mounting against Ripple after one of its major investors followed the SEC in filing a complaint against the project.

According to a Jan. 6 report from Bloomberg, Tetragon, one of the lead investors in a $200 million Series C funding round for Ripple in 2019, has filed a complaint against the firm in the Delaware Chancery Court.

The investment company claims it is seeking a court to “enforce its contractual right to require Ripple to redeem” Series C preferred stock held by Tetragon. In addition, the firm is petitioning the court to stop Ripple from using “any cash or other liquid assets” until the matter is settled.

Ripple has responded to the allegations, claiming the lawsuit has “no merit” and accusing Tetragon of taking advantage of “the lack of regulatory clarity” in the United States in filing the suit.

The firm’s executives have previously criticized regulators in the U.S. — hinting the firm would relocate its headquarters off-shore to flee the United States’ “regulation through enforcement.”

Amid lawsuits from both the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, and now Tetragon, XRP has lost its position as the fourth-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization. According to data from CoinMarketCap, XRP’s $10.3 billion market cap sits behind Litecoin’s $10.5, with LTC having grown by 26% over the last seven days while XRP’s market cap has stagnated. Litecoin first “flipped” XRP on Sunday, but it was a short-lived move.

In December, the SEC charged Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse and co-founder Chris Larsen with conducting an “unregistered, ongoing digital asset securities offering” for their XRP sales. The case is scheduled for a virtual pretrial conference in February.

Following the news, crypto exchanges including Coinbase, Bittrex, OKCoin, Bitstamp, OSL, Beaxy, and CrossTower have distanced themselves from XRP. Some have announced they would suspend trading for XRP, while others will delist the token entirely.

At the time of publication, the price of XRP is $0.22, having fallen 70% since late November.

Cointelegraph reached out to Tetragon for comment, but did not receive a response at the time of publication. 

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OCC greenlights national banks to run nodes and stablecoin networks

The latest from the Treasury’s most crypto-forward office says that national banks don’t have to fear stablecoin nodes.

Monday evening, the Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency told national banks that they are allowed to run independent nodes for distributed ledger networks.

Referring to of independent node verification networks, the OCC’s interpretive letter says that banks “may use new technologies, including INVNs and related stablecoins, to perform bank-permissible functions, such as payment activities.”

Coming amid a great deal of uncertainty as to the future of stablecoins, the OCC’s announcement is big news. The office, nonetheless, cautions that there are cyber risks inherent to using such technology:

“Banks must also be aware of potential risks when conducting INVN-related activities, including operational risks, compliance risk, and fraud. New technologies require enough technological expertise to ensure banks can manage these risks in a safe and sound manner.”

Brian Brooks, who formerly led Coinbase’s legal team, has been the Acting Comptroller of the Currency since May. During his tenure, the office has put out a host of guidance authorizing banks to be more active in crypto and, more recently, barring them from cutting off services to legal industries

Major lobbyist group the Blockchain Association noted that “The letter states that blockchains have the same status as other global financial networks, such as SWIFT, ACH, and FedWire.” Such flagships mechanisms of international payments have had to up their games in response to competition from blockchain-backed payments in recent years. 

Major lobbyist group the Blockchain Association noted of today’s announcement that “The letter states that blockchains have the same status as other global financial networks, such as SWIFT, ACH, and FedWire.” Such flagships mechanisms of international payments have had to up their games in response to competition from blockchain-backed payments in recent years. 

The new guidance follows up on a separate group of regulators laying out new guidance for stablecoin operators immediately before Christmas. 

The subject of stablecoin legal status in the U.S. has taken on an outsized role over the past month, especially after Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib introduced a bill that seemed to outlaw any operation of a stablecoin network, including private persons running,  for example, Ethereum nodes that process DAI transactions. 

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SEC unveils suit against Ripple, calling XRP a ‘$1.3B unregistered securities offering’

The commission is alleging Garlinghouse, Larsen and Ripple have participated in an “unregistered, ongoing digital asset securities offering” to investors since 2013.

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission has taken legal action against Ripple as well as its CEO, Brad Garlinghouse,and co-founder Christian Larsen.

In charges filed today in federal district court in Manhattan, the commission is alleging that the XRP token is classified as a security and is accusing Ripple and the two executives of raising more than $1.3 billion through an “unregistered, ongoing digital asset securities offering” to investors beginning in 2013. The SEC further alleges that Ripple distributed XRP for “labor and market-making services” and that Garlinghouse and Larsen failed to register their personal XRP sales, estimated at $600 million.

“[These actions] deprived potential purchasers of adequate disclosures about XRP and Ripple’s business and other important long-standing protections that are fundamental to our robust public market system,” said Stephanie Avakian, director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division.

Under SEC regulations, individuals and crypto firms must register their offerings with the commission or under an exemption if they qualify as securities. Which tokens qualify as securities, however, remains an extremely contentious subject. The crypto industry has been waiting for clarity from the SEC or new legislation on the subject for a long time.

Meanwhile, the SEC said that Garlinghouse and Larsen failed to register XRP when it served as an investment in Ripple and to enrich the pair personally. The firm and its two leaders could face disgorgement of their gains as well as civil penalties.

News of the coming SEC lawsuit broke yesterday, causing a steep drop in the price of XRP — at the time of publication, the token is valued at $0.45, having fallen more than 20% in the last week. Garlinghouse addressed the charges on Twitter, saying that the SEC “voted to attack crypto.”

“The SEC is doing the opposite of ‘fostering innovation’ here in the US,” said Garlinghouse, referencing the commission’s FinHub announcing it would become a stand-alone office earlier this month. “It’s not just XRP they’re attacking here.”

Ripple board member and SBI Holdings CEO Yoshitaka Kitao said he was “optimistic that Ripple will prevail in the final ruling.” Kitao stated he believed Japan’s financial watchdog “has already made it clear that XRP is not a security” and expected a similar result from U.S. regulators.

David Schwartz, chief technology officer of Ripple, was seemingly less hopeful than Kitao when responding to the charges on Twitter:

“The United States is one of the few countries where regulators will, after years of you operating in full light of day and frequently updating them on everything you’re doing, turn around and tell you that you should have known you were breaking decades old laws all along. Apropos of nothing, of course.

Garlinghouse announced the SEC’s impending action last night. In November, he said that because the majority of RippleNet customers are based outside of the United States, a securities designation wouldn’t necessarily adversely affect the company’s underlying business. Earlier this year, Larsen said Ripple is considering relocating outside the U.S. amid growing frustration at the lack of regulatory clarity.

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