Tag Archives: Regulator

U.S. regulator stands by decision to block Winklevoss bitcoin ETF
July 27, 2018 12:00 am|Comments (0)

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday stood by a decision blocking an exchange-traded fund that would have tracked bitcoin, citing concerns about market manipulation.

Brothers Cameron (L) and Tyler Winklevoss talk to each other as they attend a New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) virtual currency hearing in the Manhattan borough of New York January 28, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

The securities regulator found “unpersuasive” arguments that the bitcoin ETF proposed by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the twin brothers who founded crypto exchange Gemini Trust Co LLC, would be sufficiently protected from manipulation, it said in a 92-page analysis bit.ly/2K3GoWG posted on its website.

“Regulated bitcoin-related markets are in the early stages of their development,” the SEC said, saying that it “cannot…conclude that bitcoin markets are uniquely resistant to manipulation.”

But the agency did not completely shut the door to such products coming to market once the bitcoin market has matured, offering some hope for at least five other bitcoin ETF proposals that are still pending before the regulator.

Bitcoin BTC=BTSP turned negative after the SEC’s ruling, and last traded down 2.9 percent.

The virtual currency can be used to move money around the world quickly and with relative anonymity, without the need for a central authority, such as a bank or government. A fund holding the currency could attract more investors and push its price higher.

The SEC said there was not enough evidence that efforts to thwart manipulation of the ETF’s price or that of the underlying bitcoin market would be successful.

The SEC had blocked the Winklevoss ETF from coming to market in March 2017, but then faced an appeal from CBOE Holdings Inc’s (CBOE.O) Bats exchange, which applied to list the ETF.

The parties can appeal the SEC’s decision in federal court.

CBOE and Gemini did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Winklevoss twins are best known for their feud with Facebook Inc (FB.O) founder Mark Zuckerberg over whether he stole the idea for what became the world’s most popular social networking website from them. The former Olympic rowers ultimately settled their legal dispute, which was dramatized in the 2010 film “The Social Network.”

The SEC’s decision to block the ETF was voted for 3-1 by its sitting commissioners, with Republican commissioner Hester Peirce voting against. In a statement, Peirce said she believed the product met the legal standard.

“More institutional participation would ameliorate many of the Commission’s concerns with the bitcoin market that underlie its disapproval order,” she said, adding that the ruling “sends a strong signal that innovation is unwelcome in our markets.”

Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in New York and Michelle Price in Washington; additional reporting by Anna Irrera in New York; editing by Phil Berlowitz and Leslie Adler

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Qualcomm's patent deals aim to ease Apple, regulator tensions, executive says
May 1, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – Qualcomm Inc has broadened its use of a lower-cost licensing model for the next generation of mobile data networks, a move that could help in contentious talks with two customers including iPhone maker Apple Inc, the wireless tech company’s patent licensing chief said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: A sign on the Qualcomm campus is seen in San Diego, California, U.S. November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

The patent business traditionally has supplied much of Qualcomm’s profit but has also spurred conflict with Apple, Samsung Electronics Ltd and Huawei Technologies Co Ltd as well as regulators in China, South Korea and the United States.

New deals could lower the licensing rate that Qualcomm receives while making the business more dependable if regulators view the terms favourably and two major customers – Apple and a company widely believed to be Huawei – resolve their disputes and resume paying Qualcomm.

“It’s a good context for dealing with the two licensee issues we have now,” Alex Rogers, the head of Qualcomm’s licensing division, told Reuters in an interview, naming Apple but leaving Huawei unnamed as is the company’s policy when a dispute hasn’t become public through a court proceeding.

Rogers did not comment directly on the likelihood of resolving either customer dispute. Apple and Huawei did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Qualcomm sells chips for mobile phones but has a second, much older business licensing technology for wireless networks. The licensing business has generated global controversy and resulted in billions of dollars in regulatory fines, some of which remain on appeal.

Handset makers can licence one of two sets of Qualcomm patents: The full suite that costs makers about 5 percent of the cost of a handset or a smaller set of so-called “standard essential patents” for 3.25 percent, which includes only the patents needed for gear to work on mobile data networks.

In the past, most of Qualcomm’s customers licensed both sets of patents to avoid lawsuits. But Qualcomm has been defusing tensions by making it easier for customers to licence just the smaller, lower-cost set of standard patents and by adding patents for the next generation 5G wireless network to the suite at no additional cost.

That essentially extends a 2015 settlement with China’s chief antitrust regulator. Qualcomm began to licence only its standard patents for 3G and 4G networks to Chinese handset makers for a rate of 3.25 percent. More than 100 device makers have signed on for such deals.

“We have not lowered the rate. What we’re doing is including more technology, more (intellectual property) in the offering without increasing the price,” Rogers added.

Qualcomm also announced last week that it would assess its patent fees against only the first $ 400 (£291) of a phone’s net selling price. Rogers said the previous price cap was $ 500, a figure that was well known among industry insiders but that Qualcomm did not make public.

“What we’re doing here is creating a foundation for stability going forward,” Rogers said, describing Qualcomm’s 5G licensing moves as “regulator friendly”.

The question now is whether more handset makers will opt for Qualcomm’s lower-cost standard patents rather than its pricier full portfolio.

“What we perceive here is there will be more of a mix than there was in the past of companies opting for (standard essential patents) only,” Rogers said. “How much more, depends on each individual company.”

While Qualcomm has made no public disclosures about the status of talks with the two major customers in licence disputes, the company’s approach to licensing patents for upcoming 5G networks will look different than its initial approaches for 3G and 4G networks of years past.

“Both of those issues (disputes) are essentially now being handled within the framework of the current programme we’re offering,” Rogers said.

Reporting by Stephen Nellis; Editing by Peter Henderson and Cynthia Osterman

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South Korea regulator flags better deal for cryptocurrency industry
February 21, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

SEOUL (Reuters) – A better deal for South Korea’s cryptocurrency industry might be in the offing as the market regulator changes tack from its tough stance on the virtual coin trade, promising instead to help promote blockchain technology.

The regulator said on Tuesday that it hopes to see South Korea – which has become a hub for cryptocurrency trade – normalize the virtual coin business in a self-regulatory environment.

“The whole world is now framing the outline (for cryptocurrency) and therefore (the government) should rather work more on normalization than increasing regulation,” said Choe Heung-sik, chief of South Korea’s Finance Supervisory Service (FSS), told reporters.

The latest news suggests authorities might adopt a lighter regulatory touch, a step change from the justice minister’s warnings in January that the government was considering shutting down local cryptocurrency exchanges, throwing the market into turmoil.

FSS has been leading the government’s regulation of cryptocurrency trading as part of a task force.

Cryptocurrency operators see Choe’s comments as positive step for the industry’s plans for self-regulation.

“Though the government and the industry have not yet reached a full agreement, the fact that the regulator himself made clear the government’s stance on co-operation is a positive sign for the markets,” said Kim Haw-joon of the Korea Blockchain Association.

South Korea banned the use of anonymous bank accounts for virtual coin trading as of January 30 to stop cryptocurrencies being used in money laundering and other crimes.

Three local banks including Shinhan Bank, Industrial Bank of Korea, NH Bank, are currently offering cryptocurrency accounts to around five local virtual coin exchanges.

Choe said that Kookmin Bank and KEB Hana Bank may have also put in place an appropriate system, though they haven’t as yet started handling transactions.

“I hope they (the banks) no longer fear authorities once they have the right system,” Choe added.

An official from FSS told Reuters tough regulatory oversight of illegal trade in cryptocurrencies will remain in place.

Bitcoin BTC=BTSP, the world’s most heavily traded cryptocurrency, is now changing hands at a three-week high of $ 11,160 on the Luxembourg-based Biststamp exchange after falling as low as $ 5,920.72 in early February.

South Korean electronics giant Samsung has already started production of cryptocurrency mining technologies, local media reported in January.

Reporting by Dahee Kim; Editing by Eric Meijer & Shri Navaratnam

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SpaceX gets U.S. regulator to back satellite internet plan
February 14, 2018 6:01 pm|Comments (0)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Elon Musk’s SpaceX, fresh off the successful launch this month of the world’s most powerful rocket, won an endorsement on Wednesday from the top U.S. communications regulator to build a broadband network using satellites.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai proposed the approval of an application by SpaceX to provide broadband services using satellites in the United States and worldwide.

“Satellite technology can help reach Americans who live in rural or hard-to-serve places where fiber optic cables and cell towers do not reach,” Pai said in a statement.

SpaceX told the FCC in a Feb. 1 letter that it plans to launch a pair of experimental satellites on one of its Falcon 9 rockets. That launch, which has been approved by the FCC, is set for Saturday in California.

The rocket will carry the PAZ satellite for Hisdesat of Madrid, Spain and multiple smaller secondary payloads.

SpaceX was not immediately available for comment.

On Feb. 6, the company launched the world’s most powerful rocket, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, from Florida. The 23-story-tall jumbo rocket carried a Tesla Inc Roadster from the assembly line of Musk’s electric car company as a mock payload

Pai said after a staff review he was urging approval for SpaceX, saying: ”it would be the first approval given to an American-based company to provide broadband services using a new generation of low-Earth orbit satellite technologies.”

Over the past year, the FCC has approved requests by OneWeb, Space Norway, and Telesat to access the U.S. market to provide broadband services using satellite technology. The FCC said the technology “holds promise to expand Internet access in remote and rural areas across the country.”

The recent approvals are the first of their kind, the FCC said, for “a new generation of large, non-geostationary satellite orbit, fixed-satellite service systems.”

The FCC “continues to process other, similar requests,” it added.

The Wall Street Journal reported in 2017 that SpaceX hopes it can use revenue from a satellite-internet business to finance manned missions to Mars.

The U.S. government is working to try to bring high-speed internet access to rural areas that lack service. An FCC report released this month said the number of Americans without access to both fixed and mobile broadband fell by more than half from 72.1 million in 2012 to 34.5 million in 2014.

Approximately 14 million rural Americans and 1.2 million Americans on tribal lands lack mobile broadband even at relatively slow speeds.

Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by David Gregorio

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Uber, Yandex ride services can merge in Russia, regulator FAS rules
November 24, 2017 12:07 pm|Comments (0)

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Uber [UBER.UL] and Yandex’s ride-sharing businesses can merge in Russia, anti-monopoly regulator FAS ruled on Friday, but stipulated that the combined company not bar drivers from working for competitors.

FILE PHOTO: A taxi with the logo of Russian online taxi service Yandex Taxi drives past a terminal of the Domodedovo Airport outside Moscow, Russia, November 2, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Uber and Yandex, often referred to as the “Google of Russia”, announced plans in July to combine operations in 127 cities in Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Kazakhstan.

San Francisco-based Uber has agreed to invest $ 225 million while Yandex will contribute $ 100 million into a new joint company in which Yandex will own 59.3 percent.

The two companies must allow their partners, drivers and passengers to work for or use competitors’ services and fully inform users of the legal entity providing the service, the FAS said in a statement.

Yandex said consumers would be able to use both Yandex.Taxi and Uber apps, while their driver apps will be integrated, leading to shorter passenger wait times, increased driver utilization rates, and higher service reliability.

The companies aim to close the deal in January 2018, after the New Year holidays in Russia, Yandex said in a statement.

Moscow-listed Yandex was up 3.47 percent as of 1123 GMT.

It said the anti-monopoly regulator in Belarus had also approved the deal while a decision by the Kazakh regulator was pending.

Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; editing by Jason Neely

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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