Category Archives: Asia

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12 Japanese Arrested in Fake Cash for Bitcoin Fraud

An alleged scam in Japan has resulted in the arrests of 12 individuals accused of defrauding a Tokyo-based businessman of 190 million Japanese yen (JPY) in Bitcoin (approximately USD 1.8 million).

An investigation between Tokyo and Hyogo police revealed that in July 2017, a Tokyo-based marketing executive was approached by a group of “traders” who offered him JPY 200 million for the equivalent of JPY 190 million yen in Bitcoin. After the deal was carried out between the conmen and the businessman’s agent in a Tokyo hotel, the victim suggested that he wanted to trade covertly to avoid paying commission fees while swapping crypto-to-fiat at an exchange.

The seller then transferred his cryptocurrency to an exchange wallet account in Yokohama, although the fraudsters argued that they didn’t receive the Bitcoin. It turned out that the suitcase exchanged mainly contained false banknotes. Two days later they attempted to convert the stolen Bitcoin into JPY 174.2 million yen through the Yokohama exchange.

Seven men, all in their 20s, were arrested by police last week including the alleged mastermind, 24-year-old Kenta Higashi.

Japan has warmed to Bitcoin in a big way in recent years and legislation now acknowledges it as a legal payment method, despite the Bank of Japan’s ‘Let’s think about cryptocurrencies‘ statement where the bank warned about the likelihood of Bitcoin theft. Despite some notable thefts in recent years, this hasn’t deterred traders. Individual cryptocurrency traders in Japan now exceed three million according to the country’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) figures just released.

Despite frequent incidents of investor fraud and the USD 500 million hacking of a Japanese crypto exchange earlier this year, the country still emerges as a Bitcoin haven due to recent supportive regulatory legislation introduced by the government.

Japan has previously suspended operations of several crypto exchanges on security concerns, although individual groups such as the “Tokyo 12” preying on the vulnerability of a single victim are harder to control.


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Bank of Japan Has No Plans for Central Bank Crypto

The Bank of Japan (BoJ) has stated that it had no plans to issue to issue a central-bank digital currency (CBDC).

At a recent conference between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Japan’s Financial Services Agency on Monday the BoJ’s deputy governor Masayoshi Amamiya suggested that a CBDC could undermine the bank’s two-tier system and destabilize it.

Amamiya suggested, “…the issuance of central bank digital currencies for general use would be analogous to directly allowing households and firms to have accounts in the central bank.”

The current system at the BoJ only allows access to private banks and other limited financial bodies.

Recent comments by the bank have been cool towards cryptocurrencies, despite the popularity in the country. Cryptocurrency crime has dampened JoC enthusiasm, so much so that the bank has recently surveyed its customers to get their point of view on digital currencies.

The one-page survey entitled ‘Let’s think about cryptocurrencies!‘ has appeared on a financial education site run by the bank. It asks such questions as “should cryptocurrencies be considered as money?” and whether you could profit from them and if is it likely they would be stolen. The survey gives the public a basic overview of digital currency but points out that there is no central bank to back them up.

The bank, despite its “wait and see” stance, has started to consider the viability of cryptocurrency’s underlying blockchain technology for business applications. The bank’s Project Stella initiative has conducted research on how distributed ledger technology can create new securities settlement systems.

Outside of the banking system, cryptocurrency continues to flourish in Japan. China and India’s attempts to outlaw the new technology have not been duplicated in Japan. Firm public and business support have made Japan a cryptocurrency haven, with a rise in domestic firms adopting cryptocurrency or blockchain technology within the country.

Figures released recently showed that 3.5 million Japanese are now trading in cryptocurrency as the government continues to work towards full legalization and regulation of ICOs.


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Coinsecure Loses $3.5 Million in Bitcoin in Suspected Hack

Indian exchange platform Coinsecure suffered the worst cryptocurrency theft in the country’s history this week, with 438 Bitcoins syphoned out of user accounts into an address outside of the platform’s control. This was the equivalent of approximately USD 3.5 million.

The International Business Times reported that the theft came to light when users began complaining they could not access their funds over several days. The Coinsecure website issued an official notice on 12 April, assuring users that a First Information Report (FIR) with the Cyber Cell of Delhi had been filed and that they were working to recover all of the lost funds.

The notice outlined details of the apparent hack, noting that it appeared to occur when its chief security officer (CSO), Dr Amitabh Saxena, was extracting Bitcoin Gold. Dr Saxena claimed that the funds were ”lost in the process during the extraction of the private keys”.

Suspicious circumstances

As it is only the CEO and the CSO that maintain access to the private keys of the company’s wallet., this makes the circumstances behind the extraction particularly suspicious, leading the exchange to believe that the CSO created the story to cover up his own theft.

The FIR outlines their accusation, stating, ”The incident reported by Dr Amitabh Saxena does not seem convincing to us. The exchange in the FIR requested the authority to seize Dr Amitabh Saxena’s passport so he cannot fly out of the country.”

A second update on the Coinsecure website assured users that their Indian Rupee (INR) funds were safe, calling on members of the Bitcoin community for any information that could help secure the return of funds.

Crypto fraud in India

The last few months have seen several cases of similar fraudulent behavior in India. The founder of cryptocurrency investment fund Gainbitcoin was arrested earlier this month for allegedly scamming victims out of USD 300 million. The year to date has seen USD 670 million worth of cryptocurrencies stolen through fraudulent activities.

Investors are encouraged to put in research before parting with funds to protect themselves from such scams. It is important to ensure that platforms used are secure, with KYC policies being preferable. Due to the decentralized nature of cryptocurrency trading, it is often very difficult to recover stolen funds.


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Yahoo Japan to Be 40% Stakeholder in Crypto Exchange

Yahoo Japan has announced plans to purchase a 40% minority stake in cryptocurrency exchange BitARG. The platform is headquartered in Tokyo, scheduled for launch later this year.

BitARG has accepted the offer from Yahoo Japan’s subsidiary, stating, ”As a result of this capital participation, the Company will be able to utilize the service operation and security expertise of the Yahoo Japan Group, which will make it easier for customers to prepare for the start of the exchange service managed by the Company and to improve the operation after the commencement. We will promote the provision of secure exchange services.”

Reuters has reported unofficial figures regarding the financial terms of the agreement, estimating the deal to be worth between USD 18.5 million and USD 27.8 million. BitARG has been granted a license to operate as a domestic cryptocurrency trading platform from Japan’s Financial Service Agency (FSA), making the deal far more financially viable for Yahoo to invest in.

Yahoo has also reportedly scheduled additional investments through alternative subsidiaries to support the development of BitARG throughout this year and next.

The deal is particularly significant as Yahoo Japan is one of the most popular websites used in the country, ranking as the fourth most visited website, while also being home to Japan’s largest online auction site. Yahoo itself is a top 40 website globally in terms of traffic rank; a tech conglomerate of this stature entering the cryptocurrency sector could be a significant benefit for the industry.

Similar ventures

Yahoo is not the first corporate giant to invest in the cryptocurrency industry; last week Monex, an online brokerage servicing Japan, confirmed a complete acquisition of exchange platform Coincheck. The cryptocurrency trading platform was experiencing an onslaught of criticism due to its poor security assurances that led to the theft of USD 530 million worth of NEM tokens.

Japanese bank SBI has plans to launch its own cryptocurrency exchange. As Japan’s FSA strengthens regulations around security measures for such projects following the Coincheck theft, startup projects such as this will have to prove they can comply with more stringent security checks.


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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 6th to 13th April 2018

Asia and Australia

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.


Japanese cryptocurrency traders exceed 3 million: Japan is one of the most crypto-friendly countries out there with more than 3 million Japanese trading in cryptocurrency according to the latest figures from its Financial Services Agency (FSA). The data also highlights that there were 17 registered cryptocurrencies by the end of March.

Millennials and younger age brackets represent 90% of the crypto traders. This data shows the inclination of the Japanese young populace towards the crypto trading phenomenon despite the recent Bitcoin price tank.

FSA halts operations of two exchanges over KYC failure: The FSA has ceased the operations of two exchanges when they failed to implement the Know-Your-Customer (KYC) licensing requirements. External Link and FSHO were also given penalty orders.

The move follows the agency’s suspension of 15 exchanges that were found to be complacent in implementing the rules and regulations of the FSA. The two exchanges were not available for any comment.

Government-backed study declares ICOs are not scams: While acknowledging the challenges that ICOs present, Japanese government’s recent study found out that ICOs are not scams and the right regulatory frameworks will be needed to legitimize them under the national infrastructure.

Insider trading and money laundering were found to be one of the major challenges posed by ICOs and cryptocurrencies.

South Korea

Financial watchdog investigating banks for crypto association: South Korea’s top financial watchdog Financial Services Commission (FSC) has announced that it will investigate three banks to see if they are complying with the new anti-anonymity regulations imposed by the government.

The FSC announced back in January that investors in South Korea will have to buy cryptocurrencies under their own own name and using fiat banking channels to tackling money laundering practices.

Police detain two cryptocurrency exchange executives for questioning: South Korean police has detained executives from two cryptocurrency exchanges for extensive questioning. Four executives were arrested, including the CEO of Coinnest, over charges of embezzlement and money laundering. Prosecutors claim that billions of Korean Won (KRW) were transferred from client accounts that could amount to fraud.

These arrests are part of a wider initiative by the government to clean house after a recent exchange hack.


Chinese state cryptocurrency to feature negative interest rates:  The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has been working on a possible state cryptocurrency for some time, while cracking down on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies like  Ethereum.

In a surprise move, the PBOC’s director general of financial research said that negative interest rate for the state cryptocurrency was on the cards: “In the long run, due to the lower natural interest rate, monetary authorities can incorporate negative interest rate policies into the normal monetary policy toolbox.”

Giving no quarter to cryptocurrencies: While China may be relaxed on blockchain research and implementation through their national system, it is tightening controls over cryptocurrency traded in the country.

The Bank of China appointed a new head in Yi Gang and many people’s hopes were crushed once Gang announced his sweeping anti-cryptocurrency measures.

Police halt blockchain conference in Shanghai: The Chinese crackdown on cryptocurrencies continued this week as a blockchain-themed conference was abruptly raided and closed down by the police in Shanghai on Thursday. The Global Fintech and Blockchain China Summit 2018 was organized as a business conference but was raided around midday by the Chinese police.

According to PTP, the organizer said, “We are still investigating the reasons of the halt, and so far the explanation offered by the police is due to security risk. We are working on a solution regarding how to make up for event attendees. The conference is in compliance with the regulation in China and does not feature any ICO roadshow.”

An update is expected in the near future.


India prohibits banks from handling cryptocurrencies: In a sweeping move, the Reserve Bank of India has announced that all banks and regulated financial entities will now be prohibited from dealing or abetting in trading cryptocurrencies.

The reason behind this was described as “associated risks” of cryptocurrencies and the ban was effective immediately.

Over 17,000 sign petition against Indian crypto ban: A petition with over 17,000 signatures was tabled against Indian Reserve Bank’s much-criticized move of banning cryptocurrencies in the country. The petition was mostly driven by younger users who are employed in the blockchain industry in the South Asian country.


Pakistani central bank snubs cryptocurrencies: The State Bank of Pakistan recently announced that financial companies are now barred from sending money abroad through cryptocurrencies. The announcement also carried an “advice” to refrain from “processing, using, trading, transferring value in virtual currencies or tokens…”

The move follows the regional trend of banning and warning against cryptocurrencies.


Australia sets deadline for registration of cryptocurrency exchanges: Australia has recently implemented regulations suggested by the Australian Financial Intelligence Agency and is now requiring all cryptocurrency exchanges to register themselves before mid-May 2018.

These regulations were passed after the Australian Senate passed legislation: “Effective immediately, DCEs (digital currency exchanges) with a business operation located in Australia must now register with AUSTRAC and meet the Government’s AML/CTF compliance and reporting obligations”.




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Chinese Government Backs $1.6 Billion Blockchain Startup Fund

A new Chinese blockchain startup fund, dubbed Xiong’An Global Blockchain Innovation Fund, has received backing from the Chinese government for 30% of its total required resources of USD 1.6 billion.

The initiative was announced Monday, with Xu Xiaoping acting as the official advisor for the project. Xiaoping is the founder of venture capital firm Zhenfund, a company previously invested in blockchain projects such as Stream and Lino. The fund will be managed by Li Xiaolai, a well-known blockchain investor and Bitcoin mogul.

The announcement took place at the opening ceremony of a new blockchain industrial park in Hangzhou, a city noted for its support of fintech innovations with technology conglomerate Alibaba headquartered there.

Local news outlet Sohu reported that USD 400 million of the total resources will be provided by the Hangzhou city local government. The remaining funds will be provided by Hangzhou-based venture capital firm Tunlan Investment, the official launchers of the enterprise.

The funds will be invested into promising local blockchain projects, with the new industrial park providing the startup companies with an incubation center.

Blockchain in China

Despite the government’s unfavorable policies on cryptocurrencies, China is a leading actor in the blockchain industry. The Xiong’An Global Blockchain Innovation Fund is the most recent of Chinese government-backed blockchain initiatives.

Also based in Hangzhou is a research body led by the government that recently launched a platform utilizing blockchain technology that provides a service for identity and supply-chain tracking. The platform has been dubbed the Blockchain Registry Open Platform (BROP), officially launched at a fintech summit in Hangzhou on 26 March. The research institute behind BROP operates under the jurisdiction of the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank.

A local investment association also backed by the government recently scrapped plans to found a blockchain funding center, allegedly due to internal structural conflicts.

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India Prohibits Banks From Handling Crypto

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced in a press release Thursday that all banks and regulated financial entities would now be strictly prohibited from facilitating transactions involving cryptocurrencies.

”Cryptocurrencies comes with associated risks”

Press release details note that the decision was made because of what is described as ”associated risks” of cryptocurrencies. The ban on dealings or settlings in digital currency is effective immediately, impacting all entities under the regulation of the RBI.

The singular exception to the rule are regulated entities that already provide financial transfers to cryptocurrency wallets or exchange platforms. RBI deputy governor BP Kanungo announced on Thursday at a press briefing that such service providers will be given a provisional three months to cut ties with such clients.

Kanungo went on to discuss the possibility of the Central Bank of India launching what he refers to as ”fiat digital currency” with the liability of the bank. He noted that this would be an environmentally-friendly option, as it could reduce the amount of paper used as opposed to traditional currency. The viability report for this is scheduled to be available in June 2018.

Blockchain technology, however, is an initiative that Kanungo supports. He said in the same briefing that blockchain developments should be encouraged and exploited.

Cryptocurrency in India

Bitcoin, in particular, has suffered past criticism from banking authorities. The central bank has repeatedly issued warnings to cryptocurrency investors over the potential volatility of the market. HDFC and Citi Bank have both restricted clients from purchasing Bitcoin via their debit and credit cards.

Despite the prohibition on banks handling digital currency assets, government officials in India recently reiterated the law requiring cryptocurrency investors to pay taxes on their holdings. In December 2017, the income tax authorities of India issued tens of thousands of tax notices to investors following surveys conducted of the country’s nine largest cryptocurrency exchanges.

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Asia Pacific: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 27th March to 5th April 2018

Asia Pacific

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.


14% of Japan’s young male workforce invest in cryptocurrencies: According to a recent study by Shin R25, more than 14% of Japan’s young male employees in the age bracket of 25-30 regularly invest in cryptocurrencies. Out of these young enthusiasts, 92% got into it because it was a good investment while 37.4%invested because it was a “trend” and around 20% said they got into it because of media and investor acquaintances. Regarding future investment, around 45% were of the opinion that they would invest again in the future while 35% didn’t want to invest again because of sharply declining prices in the near-term. Japan continues to be a strong hub of investment in cryptocurrencies particularly Asian origin NEO and NEM coins.

Japan’s central bank encourages people to “try” cryptocurrencies: In a bold move, Japan’s central bank’s financial services information head Masashi in a Q&A summary called Lets think about cryptocurrencies” has called for the public to at least try cryptocurrencies in the future.

The official statement said: “To that end, it is important to actually try it in the world. There is reason to believe that [its maturity] will allow us to use existing cryptocurrencies, accumulate use cases and promote further technical development.”.

Japanese online broker bids for cryptocurrency exchange: Japanese cryptocurrency broker Monex is considering buying CoinCheck, a cryptocurrency exchange that suffered a high-profile hack back in January according to recent reports. Bitcoin’s price index actually experienced a significant increase in the following days following this positive news from the Land of the Rising Sun and rose above USD 7,400 after the news was aired as it would have given the embattled exchange another lifeline.

Chinese national arrested for cryptocurrency fraud: Japanese police revealed last Tuesday that they had arrested a Chinese citizen from Tokyo after the said person was caught selling client accounts in cryptocurrency exchanges that he had opened to a gang of criminals. The man, named by reports as Lin Xiaolin, had been living in Tokyo for a while. He has so far denied these allegations and could be trialled later on. When the cryptocurrency boom was at its peak, many cryptocurrency exchanges closed their doors to new investors because of scalability and security issues. Because of the demand, it was somewhat common to see people looking to buy existing cryptocurrency exchange accounts that were sitting idle or with negligible activity.

South Korea

Seoul to launch its own cryptocurrency: News from Seoul, the capital of South Korea, has confirmed earlier reports that the city administration is aiming to launch its own cryptocurrency called the S-Coin. The coin will be used for social benefits programs according to the mayor Park Won-soon and it will launch soon according to an interview with Coindesk Korea.

Won-Soon said: “As Seoul is the world’s leading city in the field of information and communications, including the Fourth Industrial Revolution, I think we should study new technologies such as blockchains.”.

Blockchain technology will potentially be used for a wide range of government administrative processes in South Korea.

Cryptocurrency exchanges promise market cleanup: Cryptocurrency exchanges operating from South Korea have called for a “healthier” market trend. The exchanges Gopax, Coinone and Korbit, one of the biggest in the country collectively declared this during the Deconomy conference in Seoul last Tuesday.

Exchange executives in lockup in embezzlement probe: South Korean authorities on cyber crime have arrested four executives from two cryptocurrency exchanges CoinNest and and another unnamed one on charges of embezzlement of customer funds.

According to a Reuters report, the prosecutors’ office alleged: “They are being questioned about the embezzlement of billions of won (tens of millions of dollars) from their clients’ accounts and transferring it to their own”.


Crypto mining company posing threat to AMD and Nvidia: Cryptocurrency Mining hardware is going to face increased competition in the future as US chipmakers AMD and Nvidia will be tested by Chinese hardware company Bitmain Technologies Ltd based in Beijing. The Chinese company just started sales of its powerful Ethereum mining hardware and will look to build on that and challenge the hegemony of AMD and Nvidia in GPU mining.

China likely to follow global cryptocurrency regulations: China will likely support a consensus-based global cryptocurrency regulatory framework according to a recent insight by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC). The move comes after recent investments in blockchain technology by the Chinese government and impending release of the first government-backed cryptocurrency in the country.

China’s government cryptocurrency gathering momentum: A group of Shanghai reporters got a rare look inside the secret project by the Chinese government to introduce a new state-backed cryptocurrency in the market. The reporters were allowed access into Bank of China Credit Card Development Ltd in Hanghzhou. However, the bank also doubled down on not recognizing other cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin or Ethereum.


Cryptocurrency purchases banned: Reserve Bank of India has banned cryptocurrency purchases from local fiat bank accounts according to latest sweeping measure in the South Asia country.

According to an RBI statement:

“Reserve Bank has repeatedly cautioned users, holders and traders of virtual currencies, including Bitcoins, regarding various risks associated in dealing with such virtual currencies. In view of the associated risks, it has been decided that, with immediate effect, entities regulated by RBI shall not deal with or provide services to any individual or business entities dealing with or settling VCs. Regulated entities which already provide such services shall exit the relationship within a specified time.”


Malaysian airlines open to cryptocurrencies: According to news from The Sun Daily, Malaysian Airlines is open to new digital initiatives to enhance customer experience and would be open to a cryptocurrency payment option.


New crypto exchange regulation enforced: Effective from 3 April, the Australian government has levied new Anti-Money-Laundering (AML) rules for cryptocurrency exchanges, according to confirmed reports from the Australian government. The move comes after a sharp rise in cryptocurrency related scams in the region. Failure to abide by these new regulations will risk appropriate punishment from the courts but a six-month grace period is also given to the exchanges to catch up to these new rules.


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Japan: 14% Of Young Male Workers Have Crytpo Holdings

A recent survey conducted of working males aged 25-30 in Japan reveals that 14% of this group own some form of cryptocurrency, as first published by local online magazine Shin R25, on 3 April.

Despite media frenzy over Bitcoin’s recent plunge in value, this has not deterred the young working men of Japan from investing. The study surveyed 4,734 participants across Japan, between January and March of this year, with over a quarter of respondents reporting that cryptocurrency holdings constituted their first investment.

Of the participants surveyed that owned crypto, 92% noted that they entered the cryptocurrency market for investment purposes. This is indicative of recent investment trends in the younger generation, that see the group withdrawing from traditional forms of investment such as stocks and bonds.

The questionnaire surveyed these trends in investment for first-time buyers, finding 24.3% purchased their assets between October and December 2017, with 15% choosing to enter the market in either January of this year or later, as the value of Bitcoin decreased.

When questioned on the total sum of their investments, 34.5% recorded that they owned less than 50,000 Japanese Yen (JPY), approximately USD 469, while 10.2% said their holdings totalled JPY 1 million or more, approximately USD 9,360 and above.

In regards to the future plans with their holdings, 47.1% reported that they would like to actively invest in the market, with 34% saying they did not intend to continue investing.

Finance and cryptocurrency analyst Joseph Young noted on Twitter that even in such a leading cryptocurrency market as Japan, such a high figure of investment is surprising.

A study found that 14% of employees in Japan aged 20~25 years already invested in or hold cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and Ethereum.

This is a surprisingly high adoption rate, I expected less than 10%, even in a leading cryptocurrency market like Japan.

— Joseph Young (@iamjosephyoung) April 4, 2018

If the younger generations continue to adopt cryptocurrency as a primary form of investment, this is likely to increase the aggregate value of virtual currencies such as Bitcoin. Head of the research department for Fundstrat Tom Lee, recently reiterated his prediction that bitcoin would end the year valued at USD25,000.

The survey follows the news in January of hackers infiltrating Japenese cryptocurrency exchange platform Coincheck. Approximately USD 534 million was stolen in the form of NEM tokens. The Japanese Financial Services Agency acted by sending business improvement notices to seven similar platforms and temporarily suspending operations of another two.


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Crypto Rewards Program to Boost Air Asia Service

Malaysian budget airlines Air Asia has announced that it is about to launch a cryptocurrency-based frequent-flyer rewards program.

Frequent flyer

The Nikkei Asia Review revealed last week that Air Asia plans to update its current digital services to include a cashless system. The system is part of a major upgrade of its digital program which will include seat purchasing, in-flight meals, seat upgrades and other services. The airlines will offer passengers an alternative to fiat currencies through the launch of its own digital currency in next six months, although it is still unclear whether the airline has plans to utilize an existing platform in the future.

Air Asia is not the only airlines to examine if blockchain tech is suitable as a possible rewards program. Singapore Airlines also announced last month its intentions to launch a frequent flyer program of its own in this way, although the company hasn’t commented on plans to develop its own cryptocurrency.


Taiwan Airline, Far Eastern Air, has also announced that it will accept crypto payments for its ticketing, becoming the first Taiwanese airline to offer its passengers cryptocurrency fares. The airline promises to accept cryptocurrency payments and all relevant services and sees itself as a ‘pioneer’ in the industry as a result. The airline’s president, Zhang Gangwei, suggests that “…the widespread use of cryptocurrency in various scenarios will usher in a new future for the airline business…”.


Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea, now well known for their adoption of cryptocurrency as a means of payment for services, are proactive within the travel industry, always seeking ways to improve customer satisfaction. A South Korean travel website with over 50,000 hotels is now offering its guests cryptocurrency paid bookings.

Air Asia head Tony Fernandes claims that cryptocurrencies will play “an important role in the South East Asian economy” as the region is home to millions of overseas workers who send billions of dollars across borders.


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