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LONDON (Reuters) – Uber [UBER.UL] avoided a ban in London on Tuesday after the taxi-hailing app’s new management made changes to ease strained relations with the city’s transport regulator, but its new license will include strict conditions.
Uber overhauled its policies and personnel in Britain after Transport for London (TfL) refused to renew its license in September for failings in its approach to reporting serious criminal offences and background checks on drivers.
Judge Emma Arbuthnot said that while Uber had not been fit and proper when that decision was made, an overhaul of its policies in the subsequent months had changed its position.
“(Uber) has provided evidence that it is now a fit and proper person… I grant a license to ULL (Uber London Limited),” she said in her judgment.
The judge granted Uber a 15-month “probationary” license to operate.
With backers including Goldman Sachs (GS.N) and BlackRock (BLK.N) and valued at more than $ 70 billion, Uber has faced protests, bans and restrictions around the world as it challenges traditional taxi operators, angering some unions.
Uber, which has about 45,000 drivers in London, introduced several new initiatives in response to the ruling, including 24/7 telephone support and the proactive reporting of serious incidents to police. It has also changed senior management in Britain, its biggest European market.
The ruling has been a test of Uber’s new management at board level, with chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi, who took charge the month before TfL’s decision, pledging to “make things right” in London.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan was clear that the court ruling was no carte blanche for Uber in London.
“No matter how big or powerful you are, you must play by the rules – especially when it comes to the safety of Londoners,” he said in a tweet.
“Uber has been granted a 15-month license to operate in London – but with a clear set of conditions that TfL will closely monitor and enforce.”
The license conditions include giving TFL notice of what Uber is doing in areas that may be a cause of concern, reporting safety related complaints and having an independent assurance audit report every six months.
Reporting by Alistair Smout; Additional reporting by Costas Pitas; Editing by Alexander Smith, Mark Potter, Alexandra Hudson and Jane Merriman
NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York state on Monday authorized the Gemini Trust Co exchange founded by internet entrepreneurs Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss to offer trading of the privacy-focused cryptocurrency Zcash, making it the world’s first licensed Zcash exchange.
The state’s Department of Financial Services said it also approved Gemini to offer custody services and trading of Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin in the future.
Zcash’s market value was roughly $ 1.3 billion on Monday, according to CoinMarketCap.com, while Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin’s respective values were $ 25 billion and $ 8.3 billion. Bitcoin’s market value was about $ 150.1 billion.
“With smart and thorough regulatory oversight, the development and long-term growth of the industry will remain thriving,” Financial Services Superintendent Maria Vullo said in a statement.
Cryptocurrencies are digital tokens that use encryption techniques to secure transactions. Industry critics say the market is opaque and vulnerable to risks such as money laundering.
Last month, then-New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman asked Gemini and 12 other cryptocurrency trading platforms to provide details about their operations and safety measures.
Zcash incorporates the technology “zk-snark,” short for zero-knowledge succinct non-interactive argument of knowledge, which lets people trade with each other in anonymity.
Gemini said it expects to begin accepting Zcash deposits on Saturday, May 19, with trading to begin three days later.
“We are proud be the first licensed exchange in the world to offer Zcash trading and custody services and look forward to providing customers with a safe, secure, and regulated place to buy, sell, and store Zcash,” Gemini Chief Executive Tyler Winklevoss said in a statement provided by Vullo’s office.
The Winklevosses, who are 36-year-old twins, in 2008 reached a $ 65 million settlement with Facebook Inc and founder Mark Zuckerberg over who had the idea for the social media website.
They also competed in the men’s rowing competition at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis
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