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The coin, called “QCAD,” is a joint venture between crypto-asset manager 3iQ and blockchain firm Mavennet Systems. Five Canadian crypto exchanges have agreed to trade the coin. (CoinDesk)

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Talking point: QCAD is hitting the market as a growing number of central banks, including the Bank of Canada, are looking into issuing digital coins pegged to their currencies. Other stablecoins have launched and failed in Canada, and while the firm issuing the coin said it has a legal opinion that it does not violate securities law, there’s no guarantee it won’t run into regulatory issues. This launch could also be a test case for new guidelines from the Canadian Securities Administrators, which state that securities law covers most cryptocurrency exchanges. Stablecoins are increasingly popular; the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange recently won a number of patents for stablecoins that could be issued by banks, and Tether recently launched one pegged to gold.

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The central banks of England, Japan, Switzerland, Sweden, Canada and the eurozone, along with the Bank for International Settlements, intend to share information on digital currencies with each other as they consider launching government-backed digital money in their respective regions. Bank of Canada spokesperson Josianne Ménard told The Logic, “We are doing extensive research on this topic.” (The Logic)

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Talking point: The banks are banding together as China gets increasingly close to issuing its own digital currency and Facebook’s digital offering, Libra, is losing backers. Today, British telecom Vodafone backed out of Libra, the eighth firm to leave so far. In October 2019, The Logic broke the news that Canada’s central bank was considering launching its own digital currency that could share information with police and tax authorities. At the time, the bank said it hadn’t yet decided if it would launch it. Canada has played a leading role in previous international collaborations around digital currencies. Stephen Murchison, who led the Bank of Canada’s research into digital money, also chaired a report on financial innovation and fintechs for the Financial Stability Board, with which this new central bank group will be working closely.

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Canada’s largest bank has filed a patent application for a method of predicting when customers are about to make large purchases. It’s also looking to patent a text-analytics tool tasked with helping investment advisers identify themes early, such as the rise of cryptocurrencies. (Financial Post)

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Talking point: RBC is facing pressure on two fronts. Fintechs, which have already peeled customers away with free or low-fee products, are now launching their own banking arms. Simultaneously, the world’s largest tech companies are encroaching on RBC’s turf. As the bank’s CEO, Dave McKay, put it last year, the FAANGs are earning “economic rent” by collecting information on RBC’s customers via search and advertising data, then selling it back to the bank. These patents are designed to emulate that process. Once RBC knows a customer is looking to make a large purchase, the bank could sell ads to them regarding that item, according to one of the patents. RBC is in the midst of a broad tech push. In November 2019, The Logic reported the bank was looking into a cryptocurrency platform for investments and online purchases, as well as blockchain-based smart contracts and investment vehicles.

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In a confidential report, the world body warns that attending the country’s second annual Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference in February would be a likely sanctions violation. (Reuters)

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Talking point: For 3,400 euros, organizers of the conference promise Bitcoin connoisseurs a week of discreet friendship, collaboration, access to government officials and “winter sports and relaxing time.” Yet the United Nations said the North Korean government, which has been under sanctions from the world body since 2006, has stolen billions from banks and cryptocurrency exchanges to fund its weapons of mass disruption program. It further accused the despotic regime of using cryptocurrency “for sanctions evasion and money laundering.” In November 2019, U.S. authorities arrested Virgil Griffith after the Alabaman spoke at last year’s conference.

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Last April, U.S. authorities told their Canadian counterparts that Samy Bensaci was relieving Canadians and Americans alike of their virtual currencies. Now confined to his parents’ house in the city’s northeast, Bensaci faces various fraud-related charges in an Ontario court. (La Presse)

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Talking point: Bensaci allegedly engaged in “SIM swapping,” a decidedly low-tech method of hijacking cryptocurrency accounts. Authorities say ring members acquired the phone numbers of the victims—many of whom were attendees of New York’s Consensus cryptocurrency convention—then impersonated the victims in reporting a stolen phone. Using a new SIM card, they would go about emptying their virtual bank accounts. Among the alleged victims: Toronto businessman Don Tapscott, co-founder and executive chairman of the Blockchain Research Institute.