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The coin’s price dropped to as low as US$6,929, down almost nine per cent from its midnight price of US$7,599. Also on Friday, the People’s Bank of China said it will target cryptocurrency trading in Shanghai after seeing a resurgence in initial coin offerings and other means of raising money from distributing tokens. (Reuters)

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Talking point: Chinese regulators are trying to draw a distinction between blockchain—an area in which President Xi Jinping said last month the country should try to “gain an edge”—and cryptocurrencies. The government has also intervened to dampen enthusiasm caused in part by its own messaging. A state-run news outlet appealed for investors to “stay rational” after a surge in the stocks of blockchain companies on Chinese indexes following Xi’s comments. And Friday’s announcement comes after an article by the state-run Xinhua News Agency described Bitcoin as blockchain’s “first successful application,” although it included warnings about the cryptocurrency’s volatility and illegal use.

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Xinhua News Agency called the cryptocurrency “the first successful application of blockchain technology” in an article published Monday. Though it warned the coin is volatile and that its pseudonymity is used to conduct illegal activity, it also described in detail how the cryptocurrency works. That marks a change from the agency’s past emphasis on covering government warnings about it. (Cointelegraph)

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Talking point: The Chinese government has reversed its position on cryptocurrencies and blockchain in recent months. Beijing initially cracked down: it banned exchanges and initial coin offerings in 2017 and, the following year, blocked messaging-platform accounts that promoted trading. But in October, President Xi Jinping told Xinhua that China should focus on developing blockchain technology. Monday’s coverage serves as a cryptocurrency explainer for the outlet’s huge audience, priming them for the People’s Bank of China’s own token, which is under development. In August, the central bank said it was “almost ready,” but governor Yi Gang later said it does not “have a timetable” for a launch.

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The Toronto-based portfolio manager hopes to list its closed-end fund on an exchange in the next two months. In February, the regulator declined to sign off on 3iQ’s prospectus, citing among other concerns the security of the fund’s Bitcoin holdings and the company’s ability to properly value them. (Globe and Mail)

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Talking point: 3iQ first approached the OSC about the fund in November 2016, a year in which the price of Bitcoin doubled. Regulators in Canada and the U.S. haven’t approved many cryptocurrency funds, and those that have been are limited to high-net-worth investors, so when 3iQ’s fund launches, it will be one of only a few of its kind available to retail investors and their investment advisers. But the price of Bitcoin and other such currencies have fluctuated dramatically since the company originally proposed the project, including two major crashes at the start and end of 2018. That and renewed cryptocurrency regulatory concerns could dampen demand.

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China should prioritize blockchain as the core of its innovation and accelerate the development of related technology, President Xi Jinping said in a release by the state-owned Xinhua News Agency. Bitcoin topped US$10,000 on the weekend following Xi’s comments, levelling out to US$9,393 on Monday. An index that tracks 53 blockchain-linked stocks in mainland China rose almost nine per cent on Monday. (Reuters, Wall Street Journal)

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Talking point: This is the Chinese government’s strongest and highest-level endorsement to date of blockchain and related technologies, and it underlines Beijing’s effort to assert the authority of the state over digital currency. Beijing banned cryptocurrency exchanges and initial coin offerings (ICOs) for alternative cryptocurrencies in 2017, citing the inherent riskiness of such investments. In 2018, authorities clamped down further, shutting down WeChat accounts that discussed ICOs, while financial officials in Beijing warned businesses not to host cryptocurrency-related events. The People’s Bank of China has said it’s in the final stages of developing its own centralized digital fiat currency—a token that would be under state control, and a far cry from decentralized technologies like Bitcoin and other alternative cryptocurrencies currently banned in the mainland.

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The company will convert the cryptocurrency into Canadian dollars, which it will pay to the town. Municipal staff are studying whether the program can be expanded to other fees and taxes, and will report to the council by September 30. (Global News)

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Talking point: Richmond Hill is the second Canadian municipality in which residents can pay their taxes in Bitcoin after Innisfil, Ont. launched a pilot project with Coinberry in April. Two people have since done so, according to Innisfil mayor Lynn Dollin. Interest in other municipalities with similar programs has also been low. A dozen of the 30,000 residents of Zug, Switzerland used Bitcoin for public services during a five-month pilot in 2016; the town made the program permanent, anyway. Carmine Perrelli, Richmond Hill’s deputy mayor, said only a few people had asked about paying their property taxes with tokens, but that he expects demand to grow, “especially amongst millennials.”

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Masayoshi Son invested in the digital currency in late 2017, around the time it surged to its record high of US$20,000. He sold his shares in early 2018 as the currency was collapsing. Bitcoin is currently valued at around $7,500. (Wall Street Journal)

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Talking point: The Japanese businessman is no stranger to risky investments—like his US$20 million early investment in Alibaba that turned into US$100 billion. While those bets typically pay off, Son’s track-record isn’t flawless. In the mid-1990s, Softbank invested US$2.1 billion in Ziff Davis, a computer magazine publisher, and US$1.5 billion in semiconductor-maker Kingston Technology, both of which the fund sold at significant losses three years later. Son’s bad investments are exceptions in his portfolios—both personally and as CEO of Softbank. Under Son, the world’s biggest venture capital firm holds substantial stakes in blockbuster tech companies Uber, Flipkart and WeWork. Still, that a sophisticated investor like Son can lose a fortune in Bitcoin underscores the powerful allure and risk surrounding the speculative cryptocurrency.

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The town is launching a one-year pilot with Toronto-based Coinberry, which lets people buy and sell cryptocurrencies. The Bitcoin payments will be converted to Canadian dollars. (MobileSyrup)

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Talking point: Innisfil is the first municipality in Canada to accept cryptocurrency payments, but it’s not the world’s first. Zug, a city in Switzerland, started accepting Bitcoin payments for public services in 2016. Even though only a dozen people in its town of 30,000 were using the service at the end of the five-month pilot, Mayor Dolfi Mueller said it sent a signal to fintech companies that the town was open to innovation. Innisfil—which has just over 36,000 people—has tried to send a similar message. In 2017, the town launched a pilot project with Uber to integrate the ride-sharing service into its public transportation by giving users a discount on Uber rides.

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Some of the largest online-messaging platforms—including Facebook, Telegram and Signal—are planning to roll out cryptocurrencies over the next year. Users will be able to send money to their contacts directly, making it easier to transfer funds internationally. Facebook’s planned currency may be the most anticipated of the bunch, developing a coin for users of its subsidiary WhatsApp. (New York Times)

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Talking point: These companies have an advantage in their reach—Facebook and Telegram’s currencies will have potential user bases of hundreds of millions as soon as they are released. The money-transfer market has been popularized through apps like U.S.-based Venmo and China’s WeChat. Wiring money internationally can be expensive and difficult. That makes services like WhatsApp—already used by diasporic communities to stay in touch with loved ones back home—a promising alternative.

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Police in all four countries are looking into a wave of bomb threats demanding a Bitcoin ransom. In Canada, the RCMP is telling people not to comply with the threatening emails and to contact police immediately. (Reuters)

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Talking point: Threats were reported across Canada—everywhere from Kamloops and Penticton, B.C. to Winnipeg to Ottawa. In Toronto, a threat at the King Subway Station led to its evacuation. In the U.S., the bomb threats also prompted evacuations in Illinois, North Carolina and Georgia.