Category Archives: Asia

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Chinese Inventors Create DLT Virtual Museum to Conserve Artefacts Digitally

China’s Tsinghua University researchers have come up with an ingenious scheme to enable the protection of country’s cultural heritage and artifacts using blockchain technology, according to Coindesk

They have filed a patent, for a system which will save digital versions of ancient artifacts on the blockchain using 3D scanning. The computing model created by a team of three inventors will be able to scan an object, to create its digital version. The resulting digitized artifact and its related information will then be stored on to a private blockchain by using the concept, called “hashing”. To give a better understanding, hashing is described by Technopedia as follows,

“Hashing is generating a value or values from a string of text using a mathematical function. It’s one way to enable security during the process of message transmission when the message is intended for a particular recipient only. A formula generates the hash, which helps to protect the security of the transmission against tampering. It is also a method of sorting key values in a database table in an efficient manner”

The team, including Tan Jiajia, a postdoctoral researcher and Lu Xiaobu, the head of the university’s Academy of Art and Design, suggest that by principally including museums, the platform has the potential to grow into a kind of shared ledger cultural heritage consortium which can be updated as necessary with participating members’ fresh archives, which could in time be visible to the public as would be artefacts in a museum.

The team’s patent reads as follows:

“Based on the unique design of blockchain for exchanging information, the digital identities of each cultural heritage can be transferred among different parties at lower costs with higher efficiency, so that we can enlarge their economic and social values.”

Now the concept has been patented by the inventors, they need to establish how to put their ideas into working practice. The inventors reported that the work that they had completed to date was based on Tencent’s Trust blockchain platform.

Investopedia describes the TrustSQL platform as a:

“…rich framework for application development and includes basic application models such as digital assets, shared books, proof certificates, stock swaps and proprietary transactions…”

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Ripple Has Eye on Monopolizing India’s Finance Sector

Ripple (XRP) as announced that it wants to take over 50% of India’s finance sector by processing payments with low fees and efficient systems, according to CCN.

The announcement was made at the recent Scaling and Digital Disruption in Fintech conference by Ripple Vice President Asheesh Birla, where he suggested that he saw Ripple’s digital currency XRP becoming India’s dominant force, outgrowing Bitcoin.

XRP, which has dropped from over USD 3 at its peak to around USD 0.44 today, was due to become part of a company giveaway of XRP 2 billion to the entire population of the country, according to Birla. The project was conceived in order to familiarize all Indians with the cryptocurrency and encourage its adoption on the sub-continent. Ripple’s vice president explained his reasoning and why they abandoned the idea:

We looked early on at India, and we looked at two billion people – a huge market. And we decided, how do you get two billion people onto Ripple? Do we give the currency away to every Indian, that’s like two billion – just give it away?”

The cost of the giveaway would have been significant, amounting to about USD 880 million at XRP’s current rate, but notably, if the coin had returned to its all-time highs the tokens would have blown out to USD 7 billion in value.

Clearly, getting coins to 2 billion people, many of whom have no access to electronic data or banking, would have been an impossible task. Earlier, Ripple had even considered larger giveaways. Birla explained that the company decided that a better distribution method would be through building a network of banks.:

“…we realized that if you get the top three banks in India onto Ripple, you get 80% of the market share… And so we realized in the next five years, one billion people will become banked in India, but they’ll be banked through their phone. So then we started targeting mobile phone providers and telcos.”

Birla says that Ripple now has 50% of Indian market “either integrated onto Ripple or in the deal, in the sort of pipeline to be signed to India”.

Securing the Indian market and working with the Japanese and South Korean banking systems could help Ripple establish a global financial network on the blockchain.

 

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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 5th to 12th July 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.

China

China loses 90% of control over crypto market: Local experts in China have claimed that the government has lost control of over 90% of the cryptocurrency market, according to the UK’s Daily Express.

The Chinese government is one of the far-reaching ones when it comes to cracking down on cryptocurrencies operating in the country, especially Bitcoin. But a series of local experts in the country are now claiming that the government has lost much of the control of the Bitcoin market. Cryptocurrency exchanges are still declared illegal in the country but that hasn’t stopped Chinese from trading in them.

Central bank vows to crush foreign ICOs targeting Chinese investment: The Chinese central bank has used harsh words for cryptocurrencies in a meeting of the Internet Finance Rectification Working Group.

Pan Gongsheng, the vice president of the People’s Bank of China, has targeted initial coin offerings and said:

“Any new financial product or phenomenon that is not authorized under the existing legal framework, we will crush them as soon as they dare to surface.”

While the move is hardly surprising, it shows the insecurity of the Chinese central bank towards new decentralized entrants in the online fintech market.

Bank warns against “mythologizing” blockchain technology: A Chinese banking regulator has spoken out against idolizing blockchain.

Fan Wenzhong, head of department of China Banking and Finance Regulatory Commission, made these anti-blockchain comments during a recent speech in the 5th Fintech Bund Summit in Shanghai this week. He said that blockchain was a significant innovation but people were close to mythologizing it. He said:

“…decentralization is not a new trend but a loop, because the earliest human transactions were without central authorities… blockchain is a useful innovation, but that doesn’t mean cryptocurrencies, which blockchain has given rise to, are necessarily useful.”

The Chinese government continues to frown on cryptocurrencies while being interested in applications of blockchain at state level.

India

Indian politicians fighting over $13.5 billion in alleged Bitcoin laundering: Indian politics is abuzz with recent scandals that involve the opposition party Indian National Congress accusing the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) of laundering over USD 13.5 billion in Bitcoin through the state of Gujarat.

Gujarat state is the home state of the current head of the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and that is what makes this accusation politically sensitive. The charge is that the Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank and its director Amit Shah received INR 7.45 billion deposits in just five days and seven other districts also received deposits worth INR 31 billion. The Congress spokesperson said:

“There were reports of the state police blackmailing some businessmen in Surat for extortion and named a former BJP legislator as one of the kingpins.”

The INC person continued and said Bitcoin was used to launder and convert the money. Crypto trading has been banned by the Reserve Bank of India starting this week.

Japan

Japanese regulators upgrading crypto and exchange legislation: A local Japanese outlet named Sankei has reported that the Japanese Financial Services Authority (FSA) is looking to update the legal foundations based on which cryptocurrency regulations have been imposed in the country.

The report from last week shows that Japanese financial watchdog is considering to switch from regulating cryptocurrency exchanges under the Payment Services Act to the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act. Under the new move, the exchanges will be required to manage private and institutional assets in separate classes.

South Korea

South Korea to adopt G20 recommendations on crypto regulations: The South Korean government is now set to implement G20 recommendations, according to latest reports from The Korea Times.

The country pledged to implement the combined G20 effort in crypto regulations and the Financial Services Commission (FSC) is now revising its guidelines for cryptocurrency exchange operators.

An official from the FSC said:

“The FSC made revisions to its rules to apply strengthened policies in order to prevent or detect money laundering and illegal activities because the regulator isn’t opposed to cryptocurrencies.”

Government launches blockchain and crypto classification guidelines: The South Korean Financial Services Commission has introduced new guidelines for cryptocurrency regulations according to latest news from the Asian nation.

The wide-ranging classification includes a detailed report that presents over ten categories of decentralized applications, cryptocurrencies, exchanges and blockchain systems. The country has also imposed anti-money laundering rules on cryptocurrency settlements from 10 July.

Australia

Sugarcane farmers use blockchain to bolster profits: Australian farmers, particularly ones involved in the sugarcane industry, are becoming more active in blockchain development and adoption. Recently, Queensland Sugar Ltd announced a partnership with Queensland Cane Owners to build a blockchain application for sugar provenance.

The four-year project has already got a healthy funding of USD 2.25 million in a small farm grant from the federal government to increase food chain clarity in the system and meet standards. Other food industries are also expected to follow suit.

Crypto classification to tackle crypto taxation: Australia’s tax authority has said that it is going to track citizens who hide their cryptocurrency gains in offshore accounts according to latest reports.

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has published the latest guidelines on taxation of virtual currencies and is going to play an increasing role in regulating cryptocurrencies.

 

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Shanghai Stock Exchange Looks to DLT to Further Regulation

The Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) published a research paper on Tuesday, which analyzed the use of DLT in various stages of a security transaction, writes Coindesk.

The SSE is one of the two stock exchanges operating independently in the People’s Republic of China and is the world’s 3rd largest stock market by market capitalization. The other is the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

The newly-released paper examined blockchain’s workability in security transactions, such as pre-trading customer registration, securities issuance and trading, and post-trading settlement.

The paper highlighted areas where DLT operating in the country’s financial system was successfully adding value. It praised its successes in replacing the T+1 model, under which a transaction can only be settled one business day after an order is executed.

The SSE research paper referred to former research conducted by stock exchanges regarding DLT operating in other financial markets including Australia and Hong Kong and suggested that two areas would be particularly beneficial in China. It stated:

“A general worldwide consensus is that DLT will be a new revolution for the financial industry. The first application use cases will be over-the-counter securities issuance and trading, as well as order book post-trading settlement.”

The paper went on to point out that any potential integration at the SSE would be subject to further regulation given that it conflicts with current regulatory systems, particularly as the use of DLT would eliminate the SSE system of using a third-party intermediary as custodian and for settling post-trading transactions.

This would require establishing a new legal framework issued by regulators and central government agencies. The SSE’s findings clarified this need for further laws to govern the development of DLT in its sector stating:

“Regulation should adapt to the evolving technology. We suggest regulators treat the topic of DLT as a crucial study area moving forward… in order to develop a solid regulatory framework for embracing the financial innovation.”

 

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Blockchain Operated “FrenchDreamTowers”: A Skyscraper with Ecology at Its Heart

Last month, French architecture firm XTU Architects partnered with Systematic and an undisclosed Chinese developer to construct a blockchain-powered skyscraper.

The proposed building, New FrenchDreamTowers, is an eco-friendly project which promises to bring the best of culture, technology, and nature together under one roof.

Forbes writes, “For thousands of years, the banks of the West Lake of Hangzhou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, have drawn poets, architects and artists alike. The grounds, dotted by pagodas, lily ponds, rockeries and wood causeways, have been said to represent the idealised fusion between humans and nature.”

The concept was influenced by Hangzhou’s architectural history of blending buildings into a natural landscape. The project would seek to continue the local tradition of harmonious urban integration with the landscape. If it materializes it would create four interconnected, energy efficient towers with an eco-friendly workable system of redirecting natural resources and cleaning polluted air.

The curved design of the four structures would reportedly redirect rain into basins located on both the roof and the floor which would then cultivate microalgae between the window panes. Flora in these areas would help to refresh the pollutants in the atmosphere.

Blockchain technology has been integrated by way of unitizing Hangzhou Gold Truffle Engineering Company’s blockchain-based network, which will reportedly manage the air quality, energy storage, and many other environmental systems that will interact between the four towers. Gold Truffle commented:

“This will be the first application of a massive internet-of-things superstructure designed to address the needs of future smart-cities.”

The building will not be simply limited to offering accommodation and is intended to create a vision of both Eastern and Western architecture, amalgamating both French and Chinese cultures, and offering the public dining, art galleries, and tech hubs in the process.

Those behind the concept see FrenchDreamTowers as a microcosm of two contrasting cultures coming together to represent something completely universal and symbolizing the breaking down of cultural barriers.

 

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New Point-of-Sale Crypto Device Could Become Future of Retailing

Pundi X, a blockchain-based Point-of-Sale (POS) provider, has announced a partnership with Hong Kong group FAMA to improve retailing using cryptocurrency, writes Global Finance and Banking Review (GFBR).

The outcome of the partnership with FAMA, the organic food restaurant chain, will be a POS smart device enabling consumers to access easy purchasing using digital currency via cryptocurrency-to-fiat or crypto-to-crypto transactions.

Such solutions for mainstream consumers will simplify cryptocurrency transactions, enabling retailer outlets to install their POS devices for speedy acquisition or spending of major cryptocurrencies and could become the future for both retailers and consumers.

The Pundi X device will allow consumers access to BTC, ETH, NPXS, and other cryptocurrency using fiat money. According to GFBR, purchased cryptocurrency can be stored in the physical card wallet, or used to make cashless payments to top up phones, pay utility bills or buy goods, subject to local regulations in each market.

A promotion is currently underway in Hong Kong at four FAMA restaurants around the city: Locofama, Sohofama, SUPAFOOD and the Hive Café. Those trialing PundiX pass cards pre-charged with a pre-loaded giveaway will be able to use cryptocurrency to purchase coffee, snacks, beer or a full meal free of charge up to the value of each card using the preinstalled devices at one of the four restaurants.

Larry Tang, founder of the FAMA Group sees the POS system as a great boon for the company and the future of simple payments for services. He explained:

“Our restaurants celebrate traditional methods in our cuisine, but we also see ourselves as innovators and are pleased to be on the frontline in enabling customers to settle their bill with Bitcoin or Ether-based cryptocurrency by using a secure payment option such as the Pundi X POS.”

Pundi X co-founder and CEO Zac Cheah was equally optimistic amount the merger:

“This is the first of many partnerships that we will be setting up across Asia to encourage more widespread use of cryptocurrency in the retail economy over the longer term.”

Cheah explained that East Asian adoption of cryptocurrency was the highest in the world, but despite this, there were limited channels for spending digital currency. This was something that such devices would change, making retailing using cryptocurrency far more accessible to both seller and purchaser.

 

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Lightspeed Ventures to Invest $1.8B in Startups, Including Crypto

Lightspeed Venture Partners, headquartered in California, has put together a USD 1.8 billion fund to invest in startups across Southeast Asia. These will focus on cryptocurrency, biotechnology, cosmetics, and TV streaming services. It joins a growing list of institutional firms that are investing large sums of money into the crypto space.

Jeremy Liew, who is a partner at Lightspeed Ventures, foresees that Bitcoin will hit USD 300,000 per coin by 2030. He says, “Fundamentally, when a citizen doesn’t have faith in the currency of their country, then they are looking for alternatives, and a digital alternative like Bitcoin becomes much more compelling in those circumstances… If you’re going to be an investor in anything, you want to be where the most trading volume is happening, and right now that’s happening in Bitcoin.”

Lightspeed Ventures has seen exceptional profits of USD 2.7 billion for investors since the start of 2017, which is where it sourced the money for this new fund. Most venture capital firms have to wait a long time to see profits from their investments, but Lightspeed Ventures is an exception. Seventeen of the companies it invested in have held initial public offerings (IPOs) in the last five years, which is when a company’s shares become public, allowing Lightspeed Ventures to sell its shares for cash. Its most profitable investment was Snapchat, an extremely popular photo messaging app.

Although it is unknown how much money from the total fund amount of USD 1.8 billion will be invested into crypto, this news is yet another sign that institutional investors are moving into the crypto space. Andreessen Horowitz announced that it was investing USD 300 million into crypto companies, Galaxy Digital said it would be investing hundreds of millions of dollars into crypto firms with a focus on EOS, and Benson Oak said it would be investing USD 100 million into blockchain startups.

If these investments are successful, it could prompt a massive wave of crypto and blockchain investments from major financial institutions, possibly leading to a cryptocurrency rally bigger than any other in history.

 

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Local Experts Claim China Has Lost 90% Control over Bitcoin Market

According to the UK’s Daily Express, the Chinese government has seen its control on the global cryptocurrency market drop from 90% to 1% since 2017.

However, it appears that the original claim by local experts that China had control of 90% of the Bitcoin market has been refuted. Reports in 2017 revealed that the trading volumes of Chinese exchanges before the government ban was put in place were highly exaggerated and were more likely to have represented closer to between 20% and 30% of global Bitcoin markets. Added to this, it has been suggested that cryptocurrency exchanges figures were also inflated by bot trading in early 2017.

Regardless of the accuracy of expert figures, many would nonetheless argue that a drop in the Chinese share of the global crypto market is hardly surprising considering the government imposition of a trading ban, and the request to local banks to cease trading with crypto exchanges in early 2018.

The Chinese Bitcoin market in 2018 has largely moved to Hong Kong, swelling the number of exchanges there and expanding its cryptocurrency market. Such has been the expansion of that market this year there were rumors that Hong Kong might even consider its own CBDC, although it was considering the plan even before the exchange ban on the Chinese mainland came into action.

The current HK government stance is that virtual currencies’ largely unregulated position makes them a risk, pointing out that unlike institutions offering fiat currencies, cryptocurrencies have no specific regulation.

Unlike China, rather than ban cryptocurrencies, the Hong Kong government has chosen the educative path with the Financial Service Treasury Bureau (FSTB) and the Investor Education Center (IEC), all subsidiaries of the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), teaming up to launch a campaign which began earlier this year, including a TV campaign, warning Hong Kong citizens to stay away from cryptocurrency.

As Bitcoin News reported recently blockchain is very much the new darling of the Chinese authorities until any changes in crypto trading regulations come into place.

Given these current conditions, China is still a major Bitcoin player with 50% to 70% of global mining taking place in the country, although this number is not comparable with its far more significant figures before the ban was actually put in place. However, mining operations are increasingly moving overseas due to the ban.

 

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China’s Banking Regulator Warns Against “Mythologizing” Blockchain

A Chinese regulator has spoken out against blockchain, accusing some of mythologizing the technology, writes Cointelegraph.

Fan Wenzhong, head of the international department of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, made the statement during a recent speech at the 5th Fintech Bund Summit in Shanghai on 8 July.

The regulator didn’t deny that blockchain was, in his words, an “innovation with significant meaning”, but went on to say that there was a danger of “mythologizing” it because the idea of multi-entry bookkeeping has been circulating for hundreds of years. He commented that:

“…decentralization is not a new trend but a loop, because the earliest human transactions were without central authorities… blockchain is a useful innovation, but that doesn’t mean cryptocurrencies, which blockchain has given rise to, are necessarily useful.”

Fan’s views are not dissimilar in tenor to those of the Chinese government who, despite banning cryptocurrency trading, are nonetheless surging ahead with blockchain projects, seeing the two as not mutually dependent; blockchain having a range of functions beyond cryptocurrency itself.

Fan added that it was a disservice to the technology to promote it with such adulation and that it was in no way a revolution, perhaps forgetting the recent words of the Chinese president himself speaking earlier this year who indeed described it as a technological revolution. Xi Jinping had said:

“Since the 21st century began, global scientific and technological innovation has entered an unprecedented period of intensive activity. A new round of scientific and technological revolutions and industrial changes is reconstructing the global innovation map and reshaping the global economic structure.”

It appears that the head of the regulatory commission may need to be careful with his vocabulary, lest he comes head to head with a president who uses the same language that Fan suggests is unhelpful regarding blockchain’s future development in China.

Last month blockchain was heralded for its internet-crushing-value on a China Central Television (CCTV) broadcast by the state-backed TV channel tagging it as being “the machine that generates trust” while in the same program making further attacks on cryptocurrency.

 

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South Korea Set To Adopt G20 Recommendations and Ease Crypto Regulations

The Korea Times has reported that South Korean regulators are about to ease cryptocurrency regulations in line with G20 recommendations.

Back in May, government regulators made an initial agreement to apply the G20’s “unified regulations” and classify digital currencies as assets, having agreed that the situation regarding the trading of cryptocurrencies needed improving.

It appears according to the Korea Times report that the Financial Services Commission (FSC) has now revised its guidelines for cryptocurrency exchange operators. A government official commented about the latest developments:

“The FSC made revisions to its rules to apply strengthened policies in order to prevent or detect money laundering and illegal activities because the regulator isn’t opposed to cryptocurrencies.”

Another official commented that adopting the recommendations are in the “early stages of fine tuning” but that the establishment of unified rules has its complications.

The loosening of South Korea’s current cryptocurrency regulations illustrates the degree to which the government sees the value of blockchain and acknowledges the growth of cryptocurrency in the country’s financial sector. However, security issues still remain a concern to the government. A Trade ministry official commented on this aspect of the current changes to legislation suggesting that changes would be made, “but not at the expense of safety and security.”

The government’s gradual shift towards cryptocurrency adoption will certainly give a lift to the industry in South Korea. Mainstream adoption, if it comes, will have a massive impact providing it moves beyond speculative trading, says Seoul-based technology journalist National Tax Agency:

“Global banks predict that interest in cryptocurrencies will double. We believe an increase in adoption will come when crypto-assets can be used as actual currencies rather than just speculative investments.”

Hong Eu-rak of the ruling Democratic Party has suggested that there are current discussions in the progress to lift the country’s ban on ICOs, and it has also been reported that further discussions with the National Tax Agency to develop a taxation framework for cryptocurrencies is underway.

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