Category Archives: Asia

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Jihan Wu Loses Voting Rights in Bitmain Reshuffle

Jihan Wu, the co-founder of Bitmain who owns 20.25% of the company’s shares and a personal net worth in excess of USD 2 billion, has stepped down from his role as director. Now Wu is a supervisor, meaning he can discuss business decisions with the Board of Directors but cannot directly vote on business decisions.

Wu’s change of position coincides with a larger reshuffling of the Bitmain Board of Directors. Zhao Yifeng, Ge Yuezhen, Zhou Feng, and others have also stepped down from being directors. Further, Hu Yi retired from the Board of Supervisors. Meanwhile, Jank Group, Bitmain’s corporate lawyer, has been promoted to executive director.

The exact reasons for this reshuffling remain undisclosed but it is speculated that they are related to the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) fork coming on 15 November 2018 since Bitmain has strongly backed BCH. Previously, Bitmain liquidated large amounts of its Bitcoin holdings to buy BCH at USD 900, and have seen 40% losses as of November 2018. Now tensions are running higher than ever since the Bitcoin fork is now itselt splitting into different versions. Indeed, Wu’s Twitter is filled with controversial posts regarding BCH.

It is also possible that the reshuffling is related to the upcoming Bitmain initial public offering (IPO) on the Hong Kong stock exchange. Bitmain is aiming for a USD 18 billion IPO after a USD 1 billion funding round juiced its valuation to USD 15 billion. If this does occur it will be the largest cryptocurrency related IPO in history. Bitmain is the largest manufacturer of cryptocurrency mining equipment. In the first half of 2018, Bitmain sold USD 2.684 billion of mining equipment.

The IPO application process does not come at an ideal time, with Bitcoin’s network hash rate plateauing for the first time in years, which means there is less demand for new mining equipment. However, Bitmain continues to be on the cutting edge of the cryptocurrency mining industry with the release of 7 nm chips that claim to have the highest mining efficiency in the world at 0.042 W/GH. Apparently, the first wave of these sold out rapidly.

According to research, it is common for a firm that is undergoing an IPO to restructure, in order to better negotiate the institutionalized process an IPO requires.


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Vietnam Report Prompts Government Action on Crypto Regulation

A new report in Vietnam on current cryptocurrency regulation and practice has recommended changes to current legislation.

The report, compiled by Hanoi’s Ministry of Justice, has given the government food for thought, including bringing Vietnamese rules on digital currencies in line with other countries overseas where cryptocurrency is more firmly established.

Vietnam has certainly had its teething problems in relation to cryptocurrency trading and adoption through Bitcoin’s rise, with some notable scams and Ponzi schemes over past years, resulting in losses for investors and investigations into ICOs by government authorities. Cryptocurrency is currently not viewed as legal tender and banks have warned against its use.

Reuters claims to have seen a copy of Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc’s directive instructing the State Bank of Vietnam to cease allowing financial services that relate to cryptocurrency. The directive included measures to counter money laundering and terrorist activity through cryptocurrency.

The announcement that the government is to build an appropriate legal framework for cryptocurrencies is not a new one; calls for the same were made in 2017 and again after investigations into fraudulent ICOs were carried out in April of this year. By referring back to policies employed by other jurisdictions, the Vietnamese Ministry of Justice was able to explore the options for a framework, such as either implementing a flexible regulatory system, completely prohibiting the use of digital currency, or legalizing the use of cryptocurrency under certain conditions.

Nguyen Than Tu, director of Department of Civil and Economic Laws, has asserted that in analyzing the pros and cons of developing a digital currency environment, both risk and potential are elements which need to be carefully balanced before investors and business can benefit from blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

Reports indicate that 1% of Vietnamese use cryptocurrencies but this estimate has to be balanced with the 15,600 cryptocurrency mining machines imported into Vietnam since 2017, most of which were trackable rigs, not those which slipped under the government radar. Most of the mining rigs went to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang.

Prime Minister Nguyễn has now instructed the relevant government agencies to go ahead with preparing a draft for the country’s first legal digital currency framework. It remains to be seen if, and when, this eventuates.


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Taiwan Firms Laud Success of World’s First Aviation Tourism Blockchain Project

The Two Taiwanese companies who partnered to launch the world’s first aviation tourism blockchain project have praised the outcomes of their attempts so far to tokenize the travel industry.

Huafu Enterprise Holdings Limited and Far Eastern Air Transport (FAT) have published a press release outlining their successes since launching the cooperative project earlier this year.

At the end of March, Huafu Group and FAT launched a three-month public offering of its own token, Airline and Life Networking (ALLN). The aim in offering its own digital currency was to readapt its own businesses of aviation, tourism, real estate, and property management towards a more digital-based economy.  Founded in 1990, Huafu Group’s business includes construction, travel agencies, and business hotels.

The most recent press release praises the project primarily for its progress in using blockchain in the travel economy and becoming the first aviation company backed by the biggest blockchain incubator, M.O.B.C. It also notes its token ALLN is the first to partner with Southeast Asia’s biggest digital asset exchange MBAex.

The company states that ALLN is the first of its kind to work with Maxonrow, the world’s first blockchain with an instant KYC function; self-described as the first network in the world that connects societies, governments and businesses with the real economy through blockchain technology. COO of Haufu, Tseng Chin-Chih, commented:

“61 years ago, Far Eastern Air Transport became Taiwan’s first aviation company…. Now that we have Huafu’s ALLN Networking Token set into action, we are once again pioneers in the world of aviation tourism by applying blockchain technology to the real economy.”

The company was keen to point out that its ALLN token is now available as a payment tool that customers could use for booking their itineraries through a travel agent, including purchasing flights. The advantage being that, travelers would have no need to provide proof of identity when purchasing tickets, which were fully transferable. The token also enables the client with a blockchain tool to leave feedback and recommendations for other travelers.

Also, Taiwan is reportedly planning to release the initial draft of its ICO regulations early next year with an aim to simplify regulations and increase token liquidity,

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Head Teachers in China Caught Red Handed Ether Mining at Work

Two school principals in Hunan province, China, have gotten themselves into hot water for mining Ethereum at work.

Lei Hua, Principal of the Puman Middle School in Chenzhou, Hunan convinced his wife that mining Ethereum might be a good way to earn some extra income, then put 7 machines to work at school.

Lei was put on to the benefits of crypto mining by a cousin, prompting him to spend 10,000 yuan on equipment, one machine followed later by another 6 which he ran round the clock in one of the school’s classrooms. The only problem being between June and November last year he used over $2K of the school’s electricity.

So profitable were the school principal’s extracurricular activities that his vice- principal decided to join him. The activities were only tumbled when teaching staff observed unusual levels of noise emanating from the schools’ physics’ lab which clearly couldn’t have been caused by lessons, although the 24 whirring was originally put down to the school’s air conditioning. This noise was emanating from an extra two machines set up there by vice-principle Wang, also purchased from the principal’s cousin.

Once the nine machines were discovered by authorities and duo’s earnings were seized, the school returned to its main function; educating the children. The principal was removed from office but his junior managed to retain his job with an official warning.

Illegal mining at work does happen, albeit not frequently. Power theft, however, is a far more frequent activity. Russian miners made the news earlier this year when more than 6,000 pieces of mining equipment were found at the site of an abandoned rubber factory in Orenburg, 1,478 kilometers southeast of Moscow near the Russian border with Kazakhstan.

Russian ministry of internal affairs spokesperson, Irina Volk, stated that the miners, two former factory employees, had stolen 8 million kW/h of electricity estimated to cost 60 million Russian rubles (RUB, approximately USD 968,000 at time of writing). Media reports suggest that despite rumors of the mining farm’s existence since March, police declined to comment if they had any knowledge of illegal activities taking place.

Also, earlier this year, Russian security officers arrested scientists at a top-secret warhead facility in Sarov, 240 miles east of Moscow. Several scientists had tried to use one of Russia’s most powerful supercomputers to mine Bitcoin.

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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 2nd to 8th November 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.


Startup to try crypto payment option for limousine rides: A Japanese company is going to offer the services of limousine rides at airports with cryptocurrencies as a means of payment.

Remixpoint Inc, in partnership with Hinomaru, a Tokyo limousine company, has announced a trial for cryptocurrency payments for its limousine services in Japan. According to Bloomberg, the trial run will currently be limited to Tokyo and a few other major airports in the start.

The trial is expected to start later this month.

South Korea

Lawyers working for protection laws for crypto investors: The Korean Bar Association has called the government to establish a friendly regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies and blockchain industry in the country.

The government was urged on this matter by Bar Association president Kim Hyun. He said, “We urge the government to break away from negative perceptions and hesitation, and draw up bills to help develop the blockchain industry and prevent side effects involving cryptocurrencies.”

The effort comes after the Korean government increased its efforts to contain the domestic blockchain regulation by burying them in rules and excluding them from tax incentives reserved for venture capital firms.


Oldest mining pool in China shut down: Chinese owned cryptocurrency mining pool BTCC is finally shutting down its servers on 15 November. There are no concrete reasons given behind this sudden closure at the moment. The company has also requested all the miners to move their hashing power away from servers before the closure.

BTCC was established as early as 2011 and grew to become one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world before the Chinese government shut the exchange operations down. The firm was eventually acquired by a Hong Kong-based investment fund.

Reserve bank targets token airdrops: The Chinese clampdown on cryptocurrencies continues after the Peoples Bank of China (PBoC) came forward to remove the footprint of cryptocurrencies by declaring airdrops illegal.

The bank will now ask cyber authorities to enforce these latest anti-cryptocurrency rules.

Taiwan (Chinese Taipei)

Legislators tighten crypto anonymity through AML Legislation: Taiwanese parliament has introduced new cryptocurrency regulations on anti-money laundering (AML) into state law to avoid money laundering in the country.

The move comes after congressman Jason Hsu proposed an amendment to the AML Control Act in an effort to make cryptocurrencies face the same legal course as fiat currencies last month. Now the law has passed and exchanges will be required to use real names for cryptocurrency transactions rather than an alias.


Blockchain upgrade to pin down errant taxpayers: Thailand’s tax system recently got a blockchain upgrade for catching tax evaders in the country. The system will provide a more efficient method for tax returns and tax refunds.

Ekniti Nitithanprapas, the head of the Revenue Department, said that blockchain and machine learning are now being used to catch tax avoiders in the country.


Securities commission to regulate ICOs in 2019: Malaysian Finance Minister YB Lim Guan Eng has announced that the Malaysian Securities Commission will introduce a regulatory framework in the country in 2019 for the cryptocurrency industry.

The regulations are expected to ensure a fair and orderly development of the new market.


Monero pioneer honored with researcher reward: A Monash University professor who co-founded the Monero network and blockchain has won a major Australian award.

Joseph Liu was given the title of Researcher of the Year at the 2018 Digital Disruptor Awards for his efforts in blockchain technology and its role in new economic and social systems.


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Thailand Pursues Errant Taxpayers with Blockchain Upgrade to Tax System

Thailand’s tax system is set to get an upgrade with blockchain technology, which the ruling junta says will increase the chances of catching tax evaders as well as provide a more efficient system for returning tax refunds.

Ekniti Nitithanprapas, director-general of Thailand’s Revenue Department, said that blockchain and machine learning will be utilized in tax avoidance probes. Blockchain solutions will be responsible for verifying if the correct amount of taxes have been paid and sending refunds where applicable, while machine learning will track the ways in which taxes are evaded, enabling the department to prevent those methods happening in the future.

Blockchain will also benefit the taxation process by increasing the transparency of taxation operations, something particularly useful in Thailand which has seen tax rates fluctuate significantly since the ruling junta took power.

Nitithanprapas has spoken about his initiative to incorporate technology into Thailand’s tax scheme on prior occasions, saying blockchain and big data will play a role in future digital tax collection.

Cryptocurrency profits are subject to a 15% capital gains tax in Thailand, although investors are responsible for reporting their earnings to tax authorities. An additional 7% tax was proposed several months ago which would be effective on all trades and purchases even if the investor had lost money. This was quickly shot down, however, as legislators recognized the destructive impact on the native cryptocurrency industry if it was enforced.

The Thai Securities and Exchange Commission has been given the authority to shut down any initial coin offering (ICO) that fails to register with the regulatory body, although ICOs in the country are generally being promoted. A framework for encouraging investors is now in the works; coin offerings remain under strict observation.


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Taiwan Tightens AML Legislation to Remove Crypto Anonymity

Taiwan has amended its AML legislation to incorporate cryptocurrency transactions into state law.

Pro crypto congressman Jason Hsu proposed the amendment to the country’s Money Laundering Control Act last month in a bid to make cryptocurrencies face the same legal recourse as traditional financial instruments, in addition to several added rules specific to cryptocurrency. Hsu’s hope was that by providing a solid legal framework, investors will be encouraged into the market, while the new regulations could help inform citizens on the emerging technology.

Now that the new law has been passed, Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) can place the onus on exchanges to conduct their own vetting and verification processes, which will now require users to use their own names and not hide behind an alias. This means that banks could now put pressure on exchanges for not observing AML and KYC guidelines.

Cryptocurrency exchanges can now expect to receive fines for non-compliance to accompany the new rules. Non- financial institutions can expect fines from between USD 7,300 and USD 145,000, while financial institutions will receive much more significant penalties for non-compliance from between USD 73,000 and USD 1.45 million.

The FSC had amended the original AML legislation in 2016 but it is thought that the changes had made no significant impact on financial crime. The Ministry of Justice sees the new rules as far more in keeping with international standards.

In response, a spokesperson from cryptocurrency exchange BitoEX said the anonymity was only relevant in cases of cryptocurrency-to-cryptocurrency transactions. Any transactions involving fiat had always required the user’s full details and correct name.

Earlier this year, banks in Taiwan ordered the FSC to identify bank accounts offered to Bitcoin trading platforms as “high-risk clients”, requiring transactions through the accounts above a certain threshold to be flagged to the regulator.

The FSC has revealed that it also intends to implement new ICO regulations by June 2019.


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Azerbaijan Finds Blockchain Solutions for Legal, Housing, Utility Sectors

Azerbaijan has revealed its plans to use blockchain technology to improve the efficiency of the country’s legal system a well as in the housing and utilities sector. In particular, smart contracts will be rolled out.

According to local reports, the initiative of the Azerbaijani justice ministry was outlined in a meeting earlier this week that included a discussion of its implementation in the country.

It was stated that smart contracts will, with time, come to replace the standard contracts between customer and utility provider.

Chairman of the Azerbaijan Internet Forum Osman Gunduz spoke to the regional news outlet Trend News Agency, saying that the switch ”will ensure transparency and will allow to suppress the cases of falsification in this area”. Gunduz added that the citizens will benefit from being able to control the processes themselves for the first time.

Right now, the Ministry of Justice provides over 30 electronic services and around 15 forms of online information systems and registries, which Gunduz believes are key areas for blockchain solutions. In practice, he says that blockchain technology can be successfully implemented wherever it relates to registries.

Another area that he thinks that the technology can be particularly important is in that of ”electronic courts”, where he says there has been a lack of experimentation, operating in just ”a few judicial instances yet”.

Last month, Trend News Agency reported that IBM had plans to collaborate with Azerbaijan’s central bank in an effort to implement blockchain technology as part of a five-year economic plan for ”digital transformation”. The initiative has ambitions to modernize the country’s banking sector, in turn, benefiting the aggregate economy.


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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 26th October to 1st November 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.


Government declares stablecoins are not crypto: The Japanese financial watchdog, Financial Services Agency (FSA), has declared that stablecoins like USD Tether, Gemini Dollar and USD Coin (USDC) are not cryptocurrencies under the law. Under the ruling, they are prepaid payment instruments and will be regulated under different rules than cryptocurrencies.

The move comes because of the inherently different nature of stablecoins that is puzzling regulators around the world. While all other cryptocurrencies have a fluctuating price, stablecoins have a constant price they use blockchain technology.

The new move could spell major obstacles for Japanese companies to issue and transact USD stablecoins. While Japan has already voiced doubts about Central Bank Digital Cryptocurrencies (CBDCs), this is the first time it has categorized stablecoins differently.


Country celebrates 10th Bitcoin anniversary: At the 10th anniversary of Bitcoin, Singapore has announced a national crypto event for two weeks and has used the celebrations to promote blockchain and cryptocurrencies in the country.

Singapore is gearing for further adoption of DLT and cryptocurrencies and already tens of thousands of Singaporeans own cryptocurrencies with regulators taking the backstage to allow the digital innovation’s promotion.


China opening up to crypto: China is opening up to cryptocurrencies following recent moves by the government to allow Bitcoin ownership and payment in the country. In a groundbreaking move, the Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration ruled that merchants can accept Bitcoin as payment in the country. As a result, Chinese can even own and transact Bitcoin under the law.

While the ruling may not bring direct changes, as the court did pass the buck back to the government regarding regulations, other moves indicate that the state is working to open up to the crypto world, albeit slowly.

Hong Kong

Regulator proposes sandbox approach in crypto regulation: Hong Kong’s top securities regulator, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), has proposed a sandbox approach towards cryptocurrency legislation in the Chinese district. The idea was pitched by SFC chief executive Ashley Adler at the recent Hong Kong Fintech Week.

While Adler acknowledged the presence of some of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges in the country, he also raised concerns regarding their regulatory status. Hong Kong is home to two of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world including Bitfinex and Binance.

According to Adler: “If, and only if, we decide at the Sandbox stage that we should regulate, we would consider granting a license… the platform would then be subject to intensive reporting and monitoring to ensure that strict internal controls operate as expected and investor interests are protected.”

The future of Hong Kong’s regulations are important as thousands of users will be affected by them.


India looks to ban crypto, keep DLT: A member of the Indian government has said that the government should look to ban private cryptocurrencies and increase the use cases of blockchain in the country.

This pro-DLT, anti-crypto strategy has been implemented by mainland China, India’s neighbor, and it seems the regional approach is now going to be in the norm. Due to the legal battles surrounding cryptocurrencies, the Indian government was given two weeks by the Supreme Court to finalize policies regarding them.

DLT projects in the country include a Hitachi-State bank partnership for digital payments.


Australia post starts digital ID platform: Australia Post is enabling cryptocurrency traders to easily access exchanges through a new platform called Digital ID. The new platform enables users to produce documents like drivers’ licenses and passports easily for initial verification which is required by the exchanges.

A Brisbane crypto exchange Digital Surge was the first to use the platform and commented on its easy user experience.


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Singapore Token Day Puts Crypto Center Stage on Bitcoin’s 10th Birthday

Singapore Token Day celebrated Bitcoin’s 10th anniversary with its own event to promote cryptocurrency and blockchain adoption on the South East Asian peninsula.

The organizers promised that Singapore Token Day would be a national event lasting over two weeks between 31 October to 18 November, with a view to informing the uninitiated about all things cryptocurrency. The hope is that the event will give Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies a springboard to increase its profile among the public.

Earlier this year, Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) launched a blockchain challenge rewarding winning projects with development funding as part of its long-term plan to back cryptocurrencies and new technology. The city center has become a venue for cryptocurrency promotional events. In May, eyebrows were raised on the day when Bitcoin banknotes appeared at a major shopping center, readily available in denominations of BTC 0.01 (USD 98) and BTC 0.05 (USD 485), each containing a Samsung Semiconductor S3D350A chip.

This event has attracted 30 large retailers to Chinatown and allowed customers to purchase goods and services using a range of cryptocurrencies using organizer Bizkey’s Point of Sale (POS) device. This week hopes to raise the numbers of Singaporeans using Bitcoin, while also encouraging companies to improve their services through DLT.

Bizkey estimate that 10,000-15,000 Singaporeans own one or more cryptocurrencies. Although it is not yet widely used in the retail sector, the government continues to keep cryptocurrency on its legislative radar due to its obvious advantages in reducing the cost of money transfers and the speeding up transaction processes.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has been largely responsible for cryptocurrency’s increase in popularity, due in part to a clarification at the end of last year which outlined the distinctions between different tokens and their uses. The result was an increase in ICOs in the first few months of 2018 with 56 being offered in the city raising more than USD 1 billion in total from institutional and retail cryptocurrency investors – a huge increase on the previous year.

The local market has been further buoyed over the past few weeks by the news that South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb sold majority control for USD 354 million to a Singapore-based medical group. Bk Global Consortium acquired the 51% share in the exchange necessary to give it overall control. The deal was signed by BK International Consortium, a blockchain investment company formed by BK International, a plastic surgical procedures clinical team in Singapore.


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