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7 Major South Korean Exchanges to Create “Healthy Crypto Ecosystem”

7 Major South Korean Exchanges to Create

As the South Korean government continues to work on institutionalizing cryptocurrency exchanges, seven major players have signed an ‘Agreement for the creation of a sound cryptocurrency ecosystem’.

Local media reports that the exchanges, Upbit, Bithumb, Korbit, Coinone, Gopax, Coinplug (Cpdax), and Hanbitco, have stated the accord’s aim is to not only to create a healthy ecosystem but also to prevent crime and protect investors by creating a sound ecosystem and preventing money laundering.

Information sharing and real-time monitoring of unusual transactions will become a major focus of the group’s activities along with more check and balance measures such as restrictions on unverified customers. Financial Services Commission (FSC) head of financial innovation, Kwon Dae-young, declared that the government’s position had not changed much since it was revealed last December:

“We are trying to institutionalize [cryptocurrency exchanges] but before we do, we have to answer the question of how to deal with the damage and tears of many virtual currency investors. We must see if any of the projects that can help the people in their daily lives have been presented. Trust and authenticity are important.”

The new agreement signed by the seven exchanges demonstrates that industry aims appear to be very much in line with the government’s own. Ubit’s de facto voice, Dunamu Inc’s Lee Seok-woo, proposed his own protectionist measures to bring South Korea’s exchanges into line. Lee suggested minimum qualifications and standards for the industry should be bought into play, AML/KYC guidelines should be observed and a new exchange registration system could be introduced: “If you [crypto exchange] cannot meet the standard after a six-month or one-year grace period, you should close it.”

Last month, 40 international and South Korean experts formed another group, the Blockchain Special Committee, which plans to establish a blockchain hub in South Korea’s North Gyeongsang Province, also known as Gyeongbuk. Members of the association will be tasked with deliberating and consulting on the creation of “mid-to-long-term strategies” that will foster the blockchain industry.

 

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UK MP Calls for Bitcoin Payment for Taxes, Utilities

UK MP Calls for Bitcoin Payment for Taxes, Utilities

Eddie Hughes, a member of the UK parliament and outspoken promoter of blockchain and cryptocurrency, has again raised eyebrows among his more conservative peers with pro-Bitcoin declarations.

Hughes has suggested that citizens should be given the option to pay their council taxed to local authorities in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ether. Council tax is levied monthly on households in the UK to fund local services, introduced in 1993 to replace the poll tax which caused riots in some parts of Britain due to its unpopularity. It is British householders’ largest annual payment to government apart from income taxes.

Hughes argues that if people can donate to charity using Bitcoin, they should also be able to pay bills in the same way, including monthly or quarterly utilities payments as is done in some parts of Australia after the federal government there announced that welfare payments could now be delivered over blockchain through its Centrelink system. The Australian Department of Health is now actively using blockchain for the storage of medical research records. The MP argued that this integration of cryptocurrency into such areas needs to happen in the UK:

“Only recently I met with the RNLI [Royal National Lifeboat Institution] which is now accepting charitable donations through cryptocurrency – if we can do that, what’s to stop us being able to pay council tax and other bills with Bitcoin?”

Earlier this year, Hughes released a paper on blockchain published by FREER, an initiative from the country’s Institute of Economic Affairs for promoting freedom in the economy and society. His report, Unlocking Blockchain, advocated a public-facing chief blockchain officer to oversee the UK’s blockchain strategy.

He also made recommendations in his report urging Theresa May’s government to focus more readily on blockchain technologies, citing social freedom, increasing efficiency and the rebuilding of societal trust as the main areas of its use in governance. The report also suggested that a long-term target of a 1% efficiency saving using blockchain tech should become its aim over the next year, saving up to GBP 8 billion on the 2017/18 budget.

UK MPs have become increasingly vocal on cryptocurrency and bitcoin. Another MP, Matt Hancock, delivered a speech to the Law Society earlier this year asserting that blockchain technology will have a “monumental impact” on people’s lives in the future. He spoke of “vast areas of public life” that he predicted blockchain would transform: the financial sector, government services, and laws and regulation.

MP Stephen Hammond, who joined the advisory board of cryptocurrency exchange IronX, commented:

“The only way cryptocurrencies will be trusted and become accepted in the traditional business environment is through regulation… This includes governments, policymakers, regulators and the financial services industry. Governments cannot afford to be ambiguous in their stance and need to engage with the industry.”

 

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Enrolment Race Pushes Business Schools to Update Crypto Curricula

Enrolment Race Pressures Business Schools to Update Crypto Curricula

Recent reports indicate that rather than course numbers dropping due to a market down, the numbers of potential new entrants into the cryptocurrency space from other sectors are swelling. With top blockchain developers in the US pulling down salaries above USD 250,000, it is hardly surprising that the recent cryptocurrency bear market has done little to deter those considering entering the industry.

For many, the main route into the burgeoning fintech space has now become via a growing range of courses being offered by major universities and business schools around the world.

Courses are now on offer from far and wide whether it be in the Scottish Highlands, Ivy League Cornell and Stanford in New England or in sunny Cyprus. For those wanting a cultural slant on life for a short period, Saint Petersburg’s State University of Economics and Moscow’s Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) also both run blockchain technology courses. However, there is already a waiting list.

Professor David Yermack from NYC Stern School of Business came early to the university’s MBA program for blockchain and cryptocurrency education. His class has already doubled over the past year and as a result, he has had to move his lectures to a larger auditorium to cater for the swelling numbers at Stern.

The prestigious New York University first established its School of Accounts and Finance in 1900; Stern is one of the oldest and most prestigious business schools in the world. It is also a founding member of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

A notable factor of the current surge to find a place on blockchain and cryptocurrency course is not the just amount of courses becoming available but the way in which some of the world’s most prestigious educational institutions have led the march towards fintech education. A recent Coinbase survey revealed that 42% of the world’s top 50 universities offer at least one course relating to blockchain or cryptocurrencies.

Some 22% of the universities offered more than one course, with Stanford listing ten classes and Cornell nine. The National University of Singapore ranked highest of the non-US universities with five blockchain-related courses. The US universities were far more likely to offer related courses than those abroad; just 5 of the 18 non-US institutions offered such classes.

Clearly, Ivy League universities appreciate the credentials of fintech, with Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Stanford University, Dartmouth College, and the University of North Carolina (UNC), all making investments from their endowments into at least one crypto fund.

Finding a place at one of these and other universities won’t get easier though, particularly in the light of tech recruitment sites such as Toptal reporting a 700% increase in demand for skilled blockchain developers since the beginning of last year.

 

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Law Professor’s Paper Targets US Regulatory Confusion over Crypto

Law Professor's Paper Targets US Regulatory Confusion over Crypto

A professor from the University of Arkansas School of Law has written a paper essentially claiming that US regulators are in a state of confusion over exactly what cryptocurrency is.

The article, entitled ‘U.S. Law: Crypto is Money, Property, a Commodity, and a Security, all at the Same Time’, written by professor Carol Goforth for the Journal of Financial Transformation, has recently been published in the University of Oxford’s Business Law blog.

The article is raising eyebrows as it outlines what many some academics and lawmakers are already thinking across the US, that the SEC really doesn’t know how to proceed over cryptocurrency legislation as the commission can’t really classify it.

Goforth claims that part of the problem which prevents correct legislation is the fact that a broad definition does not cover the requirements of the four entities in US government currently dealing with cryptocurrency. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) defines cryptocurrency assets as property, the Department of Treasury through its Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) “very much like money”, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) as commodities, while the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lumps cryptocurrency assets into its “securities” basket.

Here lies the problem claims Goforth; this diverse set of contradictory definitions make a broader definition impossible, in fact as she points out cryptocurrencies also have other functions not even covered by these four definitions.

Putting aside these four bodies, jurisdictions of individual US states are also bringing in their own guidelines regarding virtual assets, adding even more uncertainty to an already confused area, claims Goforth. Registering an exchange in New York, for example, will require a different process for completing the same activity in, for example, California.

The professor explains that in view of such a diversity of cryptocurrency functions a monolithic approach to defining and therefore regulating virtual currency should be abandoned to make way for far more nuanced thinking by government agencies; an approach which examines the functionality of the crypto asset along with the requirements of the agency issuing guidelines for its use.

 

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Coinbase CEO: Virtual Reality and Crypto Next Big Combo

Coinbase CEO: Virtual Reality and Crypto Next Big Combo

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong has said that cryptocurrency has the potential to turn Virtual Reality into a full-time job.

Armstrong suggests that virtual spaces could create their own currencies or even make use of existing ones such as Bitcoin or Ethereum by integrating the means for users to spend crypto in the same way as they are currently using fiat.

Developers would see more time spent on such games, according to the Coinbase boss, taking it much further into the realms of Sci-fi by suggesting that players could use the virtual world to support themselves in the real world, cashing in their accrued gaming funds for “real” use, such as paying rent. He speculates:

“Perhaps we’ll see virtual bank buildings with pillars, virtual bank vaults that spin when you open them, and virtual tellers with glasses.” The exchange magnate, clearly a follower of the gaming and VR world added, “Ready Player One had a great visual of coins being collected in the game, and spilling out of characters when they were killed (leaving a big pile of loot on the ground).”

Clearly, Armstrong has seen the potential of turning VR ownership into the real thing via some of his own exchange-listed cryptocurrencies. But in reality, there’s still a long way to go – crossing the bridge from virtual into reality.

Armstrong appears to be in touch with the man on the street, if not through gaming and VR, then certainly in terms of what reality actually means for many of the world’s “have-nots” these days. This was shown by his recent personal $1 million giveaway through his charity project called GiveCrypto.

The project is a global enterprise which will give out cryptocurrency donations to worthy recipients, who will then be able to make personal choices in whether to keep their donations as cryptocurrency or exchange them for fiat. GiveCrypto wants to raise USD 10 million by the end of 2018 and grow to a fund of USD 1 billion over two years. Donations will hopefully come from wealthy donors who have amassed wealth through cryptocurrency, passing on their good fortunes to those in need of financial help. Suggested cryptocurrencies for donations are Bitcoin, Ripple, and Zcash.

Ripple’s co-founder Chris Larsen has already put in an undisclosed donation into the Armstrong charity hat. This may not be all that Ripple will be putting into Coinbase’s coffers if recent news that Coinbase plans to list XRP on its exchange becomes reality…. that’s not a virtual one by the way!

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American Express Praises Ripple for Cross Border Payments

american express

According to a top American Express representative, Ripple has the potential to revolutionize cross-border transactions globally.

Speaking in Madrid recently at the Wings of Change Europe conference, Carlos Carriedo, the credit card giant’s general manager of corporate payments indicated this was one reason that blockchain integration was high on the company’s agenda for change.

Clearly, Ripple’s XRP has caught the eye as the preferred blockchain route for the company moving forward, if Carriedo’s views are a clear representation of the Amercian Express’ programme for future development of financial services around the globe. He explained why his company was looking at Ripple becoming a significant blockchain partner in the future:

“Blockchain is absolutely an option we’re looking at. Just to give you a sense, we have invested in a fintech lab based on blockchain technology, just to understand how to leverage this better…We did a test, partnering with Santander locally, and with Ripple to just do cross-border transactions…And in a matter of seconds, through this test, our clients were able to transfer funds in a very transparent and seamless way, from one part of the world to the other one.”

Ripple itself has just joined three other partners to form a European blockchain called “Blockchain for Europe” in order to bring together what it describes as “fragmented” voices in Europe into a “more unified whole” in matters of the blockchain. Such moves are sure to offer confidence to intuitional players such as American Express, in the fact that Ripple is becoming a far more representative voice for the blockchain industry as a whole, despite its Bitcoin purist detractors.

Ripple is spreading its global network. And by working with American Express, collaborating with Santander to reduce the current inefficiencies of cross-border payments it has heightened its global profile. Also, significantly Ripple has gained approval to operate in China, opening up other opportunities in the region.  By using Ripple, Santander has stated that it wants to fundamentally change cross-border payments universally by establishing a strong alliance between the two companies. AM’s Carriedo again, speaking of the future of payments:

“There is more to come. There’s still a lot of things that need to get addressed with blockchain as a technology. But it’s very promising…The future is definitely digital. Digital is the way payments will continue to be across both the consumer part of the business the commercial part of the business”.

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Breaking: Coinbase One Step Closer to Listing Ripple

Breaking: Coinbase One Step Closer to Listing Ripple

It’s been a long wait with plenty of speculation but exchange giant Coinbase has finally bitten the bullet and announced on its blog today that it will add support for Ripple on its exchange after it gets final approval.

The news was revealed today along with an announcement that a package of some 30 crypto assets is likely to be added to its current discrete selection of cryptocurrencies, along with Cardano (ADA), NEO, and Tezos (XTZ).  The post is most likely a response to customers continued complaints that no support has existed for the second largest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin.

One thing that Coinbase has clarified is that not all of the names on its new hit list of favorable currencies will necessarily be listed, but it’s a positive step further for patient Ripple investors who have had to seek out other exchanges in order to carry out transactions, clearly losing Ripple significant business over time.

The following are among the Coinbase list of possible listings:

Cardano (ADA), Aeternity (AE), Aragon (ANT), Bread Wallet (BRD), Civic (CVC), Dai (DAI), district0x (DNT), EnjinCoin (ENJ), EOS (EOS), Golem Network (GNT), IOST (IOST), Kin (KIN), Kyber Network (KNC), ChainLink (LINK), Loom Network (LOOM), Loopring (LRC), Decentraland (MANA), Mainframe (MFT), Maker (MKR), NEO (NEO), OmiseGo (OMG), Po.et (POE), QuarkChain (QKC), Augur (REP), Request Network (REQ), Status (SNT), Storj (STORJ), Stellar (XLM), XRP (XRP), Tezos (XTZ), and Zilliqa (ZIL).

Coinbase’s post stated today:

“Adding new assets requires significant exploratory work from both a technical and compliance standpoint, and we cannot guarantee that all the assets we are evaluating will ultimately be listed for trading. Furthermore, our listing process may result in some of these assets being listed solely for customers to buy and sell, without the ability to send or receive using a local wallet.”

In January when its last concrete announcement regarding Ripple was made  that the then third top listed cryptocurrency wouldn’t be listed on its exchange, Ripple’s token, XRP, proceeded to lose roughly a third of its value.

It remains to see what impact a final stamp of approval will have on Ripple’s current fortunes.

 

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Expect ETFs Tomorrow… or in 20 Years Says SEC’s Crypto Mom

Expect ETFs Tomorrow... or in 20 Years Says SEC's Crypto Mom

Washington’s now named Crypto Mom, SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce, has spoken again on the possibility of Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) being given the go-ahead by the country’s financial legislators.

Peirce was meeting with representatives from the Digital Assets Investment Forum in Washington and was asked what the state of play looked like for ETF, seen as the long-awaited impetus for a regeneration of Bitcoin’s fortunes on the market.

“Don’t hold your breath” was the answer they received; perhaps not the one that they wanted to hear, but nonetheless both honest and concise in its delivery. A podcast two weeks ago had given some renewed hope to the market when Peirce assured the cryptocurrency community in Washington that a crypto ETF was “definitely possible”.

The commissioner pointed out then that she saw “significant intellectual capital” being invested by both institutional investors and exchanges towards the development of a Bitcoin ETF, perhaps leaving investors scratching their heads over a chicken or egg quandary. Investors see the issuance of an ETF as the impetus for change, not necessarily the other way round.

Peirce said at the meeting that a crypto EFT wasn’t necessarily imminent and gave some homely advice that people should “not live or die on when a crypto or Bitcoin ETF gets approved” referring to the SEC’s historical conservatism prone to being  “a little slow with innovations”.

Although her 20-year threat was clearly tongue in cheek, as were references to investors waking up to a complete change in stance by the SEC, the timbre of her comments were clear; a crypto ETF is not imminent. Another, more weighted and slightly cryptic, comment from the same meeting was sure to get news desks busy with their own interpretations:

“Be careful what you ask for. Never underestimate the ability of regulators to think up regulation requirements you have to follow that you never thought of.”

An ominous portent of the future from Crypto Mom, or is she simply teasing?

 

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Bill Gates: Digital Currency Will Help the Poor

Bill Gates: Digital Currency Will Help the Poor

Microsoft’s Bill Gates is one known in the past for expressing admiration for cryptocurrencies and in a recent video, he has done just that claiming that digital technology has the means to empower the world’s poorest.

Although the Microsoft principal founder has cooled to Bitcoin in recent years, there was a time he would express more upbeat remarks. In 2014, he commented to Bloomberg that: “Bitcoin is better than currency in that you don’t have to be physically in the same place and, of course, for large transactions, currency can get pretty inconvenient.”

Recently, Gates has been talking about the extreme end of the financial equation, sharing thoughts on the financial system, digital currency, human resources and poverty. Referring to what the cryptocurrency sector is calling the world’s “unbanked”, he suggested that the world’s poor may not have financial tools to go about their lives but that their labor and intellect shouldn’t be underestimated. An inefficient cash economy risks dragging them further into poverty.

Gates maintains that the transformation of underlying economics behind the status quo through the digitalization of money and related financial systems has the potential to directly help those currently living in poverty. It can also help to develop essential areas such as health and agriculture as it is already doing in some parts of Africa through various schemes such as Sun Exchange through their SUNEX reward tokens. Sun Exchange founder and CEO Abraham Cambridge made it clear that these schemes are a crucial springboard for those living in poverty or without banking:

“Together, we are working towards a world where no one is forced to cook with unsafe kerosene or wood-burning stoves, no child has to worry about how they will study after dark, and lack of energy access ceases to propel cycles of poverty.”

Gates restated earlier claims that transactions can be made up to 90% cheaper through digitization making innovative financial products and services available. He commented on what he sees as the next essential step in this process:

“I see two priorities for the immediate future. First, we need to drive the policy changes to make sure the poor can get engaged at this level and second, we need a measurement system that tracks the progress towards drawing people in not just have accounts but to really benefit from financial activity.”

 

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Second Rwandan School Completed with Paxful’s #BuiltWithBitcoin

Second Rwandan School Completed with Paxful's #BuiltWithBitcoin

Recently, Bitcoin News featured as part of its Humanitarian Blockchain series news that an education complex was being constructed as part of Paxful’s #BuiltWithBitcoin program in Rwanda. The story is now revisited to see how much progress has been made.

Paxful Inc operates a peer-to-peer payment logistics platform which focuses on buying and selling of Bitcoin. After a fact-finding trip to South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana, it found that Africans were turning to Bitcoin in ever increasing numbers with Paxful’s transactions alone standing at SAR 948 million (USD 66 million) per month. Over the past year, Paxful transactions from South Africa increased by 25%, by 60% in Nigeria and by up to 100% in other parts of the continent. For Africa as a whole, Paxful has seen a 225% increase in users in the last 12 months.

NGO Zam Zam Water, in a cooperative project with Paxful, had planned to raise USD 100,000 for an education center in Rwanda’s Bugesera District comprising two schools back in August. This followed on from the construction of the first primary school earlier in the year using Paxful’s #BuiltWithBitcoin initiative and a donation of USD 50,000 in Bitcoin.

The second, much larger, project has now been fundraised for and completed in the space of just a few short months, providing the region with its second school double the size of the first, with six classrooms and six full-time teachers. The school also has its own cafeteria, potable well, and sustainable solar panel power system.

Paxful has a busy 2019 ahead with numerous projects already in the pipeline. The company announced it wasn’t prepared to stop at its first BTC donation but now had plans to expand on the two completed schools in Rwanda to fund and build a further 100 schools across the African continent. With Bitcoin donations and academic scholarships the prize for socially supportive projects, Paxful is fast becoming a humanitarian face of blockchain. Summarizing these recent events, Paxful’s CEO Ray Youseff commented:

“We encourage the cryptocurrency sector to contribute more to humanitarian projects. The #BuiltWithBitcoin initiative is an example of bitcoin being used as more than a speculative tool, but a testament to the usefulness of cryptocurrency… To date, we have built two schools — a nursery and a primary school in Rwanda, Africa — and provided scholarships to Afghan refugees, and plan to continue these philanthropic ventures.”

There are many reasons why Africans are beginning to turn to cryptocurrencies rather than traditional currencies. Many nationals fall foul of inflation and hyperinflation, resulting in weak and unstable financial systems. Recently, countries such as Zimbabwe, South Sudan, and oil-rich Nigeria have all suffered, many of these countries with inflation rates well into the hundreds of percentages. In these situations, it is hardly surprising that populations look to a more stable form of monetary solution in their daily lives.

 

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