Category Archives: Australia Blockchain News

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Bit Trade and MNM Institute Launch New Blockchain Education Project in Australia

MNM institute and Bit Trade have announced a new blockchain education project in Australia for inspiring entrepreneurs in the sector. According to Bit Trade, the move was very much needed because it was required to equip the masses in DLT for a decentralized future whose potential is all-encompassing and universal.

The MNM institute has been in the business of grooming entrepreneurs for five years with some of their students finding success with their ideas and saw them transformed into reality. While MNM is certainly not the first institute to offer blockchain-related education in the country,

Robert Schafer, the founder and current chair of the organization said:

“The MNM institute will integrate blockchain tech into their training to ensure that the dreams of participating startups are actualized.” Robert added, “the company is well-equipped to facilitate the implementation of startup ideas into real-world use cases.”

In addition to this blockchain education program, the MNM institute and Bit Trade are now in discussion with a prominent tech institute to increase the global adoption of cryptocurrencies and DLT. The institute is based in the Asia Pacific but there is no further information in this regard. Bit Trade and MNM are also planning to launch a Blockchain Bootcamp on the application of the technology from industry experts.

Australia is home to many new blockchain and cryptocurrency related projects. The Prime Minister has even called for blockchain companies to step up and take on big banks.

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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 5th to 11th October 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.

South Korea

South Korea to decide on ICO legality in November: The legality of initial coin offerings (ICOs) will be decided in November this year, according to a government source in the South Korean Ministry of Government Coordination.

The chief of the office Hong Nam-Ki provided valuable insight regarding government’s position on ICOs. While he was coy about what the government would eventually decide, he said survey results will be received from blockchain companies by the end of October and then the government will deliberate on whether to allow them or not.

The Korean Blockchain Association is making a strong case for removing the ban on ICOs in the country while advocating for them in a National Library seminar in the capital. Its chairman, Chin Dae-je, said that allowing new ICOs will bring in new jobs and benefit the economy.

Bithumb acquired by Singapore group: One of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in South Korea, Bithumb, has been acquired by a Singapore-based medical group in a USD 354 million deal. Bithumb suffered a major exchange hack back in June this year with more than KRW 35 billion (USD 40 million) lost and has been in rebuilding phase ever since.

Interestingly, the new stakeholder is a plastic surgeon named Kim Byung Gun and he has purchased a 51% majority stake in the exchange. Despite the recent hack, Bithumb’s daily trading volume is still the sixth largest in the world behind Binance, OKEx, Huobi, Bitfinex and Upbit.

Japan

New science minister has pro-blockchain history: The latest addition in the Japanese cabinet, Science Minister Takua Hirai, has a well-known pro-blockchain stance. His experience will prove to be crucial in the promotion of the cryptocurrency and blockchain adoption in the country.

Earlier this year, Hirai was a senior advisor to a study group which had been set up to lay down rules for the adoption of ICOs and offer proposals for the Financial Services Agency (FSA). He also orchestrated a bill back in 2017 that legalized cryptocurrencies in the country. While agencies like FSA have tightened crypto rules, the crypto community can look forward to the new appointment with optimism.

China

Government claims blockchain standards will guide industry: The China Electronics Standardization Institute (CESI), a government institute, has announced a new project that will determine helpful blockchain-related standards in the country to increase efficient utilization of DLT.

While the organization is aimed at standardizing the industry, three separate models will be issued for smart contracts, privacy and deposits. The standards are expected to be released in 2019.

Taiwan (Chinese Taipei)

Congressman proposes extension of AML laws to include crypto: A Taiwanese lawmaker is hoping to introduce new legislation in the Congress to include cryptocurrencies in the anti-money laundering framework in the country.

Congressman Jason Hsu has proposed an amendment to the current Money Laundering Control Act to have cryptocurrencies face the same legal course as fiat currencies. It is also expected to add new rules that are crypto-specific in nature. The bill is very similar to the one proposed and adopted by the European Union earlier this year.

Singapore

Financial regulator to address crypto-related complaints against banks: The Singaporean financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has said that it is willing to support cryptocurrency projects including exchanges that are having problems with bank accounts in the country.

Some crypto firms complained about the banking system’s bias towards cryptocurrencies that has resulted in several account closures and suspensions. MAS is now working with the crypto projects to address the lingering issue.

Thailand

Government exploring blockchain application in agriculture, finance, IP: The Thai Ministry of Commerce is exploring the option of using blockchain technology for the betterment of three industries, namely agriculture, finance and IP.

Pimchanok Vonkorpon from the Trade and Strategy Office in an interview with the Bangkok Post said that the government is making an effort to use DLT for boosting credibility and efficiency of the country’s various industries.

Australia

Government testing smart money for disability insurance: A federal research branch called the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) is partnering with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CommBank) for a proof-of-concept blockchain for disability insurance.

Together, the two organizations will use the blockchain to create smart money, as they call it, for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). As of now, a prototype has been developed by the participants of the scheme.

 

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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 21st to 27th September 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.

South Korea

South Korea may reverse crypto ban: Regulators of South Korean markets are reportedly softening their stance on ICOs and cryptocurrencies and may lift the blanket ban on ICOs imposed last year.

The Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) took these measures because of consistent hacks occurring in Korean exchanges. Various cryptocurrency exchanges got hacked and lost hundreds of millions of dollars. Some exchanges were also suspected of illegal activity. But, due to increased security measures and Anti Money Laundering (AML) laws being implemented, the authority may look to reverse its earlier decisions on banning ICOs.

North Korea

Government thought to be using crypto to circumvent US sanctions: The North Korean government is using cryptocurrencies to avoid US sanctions on it, according to international money laundering and intelligence experts Lourdes Miranda and Ross Delston.

They said in a joint statement:

“International criminals everywhere prefer cryptocurrencies and the DPRK (North Korea) is no exception. Cryptocurrencies have the added advantage to the DPRK of giving them more ways to circumvent US sanctions. They can do so by using multiple international exchangers, mixing and shifting services – mirroring the money laundering cycle – to exploit international financial institutions that have correspondent banking relationships with the United States.”

The move could spell further weakening of the US-controlled financial model that is currently widely accepted in the world.

Japan

Government fumes at $60 million hack of exchange: The Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA) is fuming at the latest hack occurring in Japanese exchange Zaif that saw almost USD 60 million stolen from investors. 

What is so frustrating for the FSA is that the exchange was given two warnings earlier to drastically improve their security system but it did not. The FSA has opened an investigation into the Zaif hack to help devise methods for exchanges to protect themselves in the future.

Mt Gox exchange confirms Bitcoin sell-off: Defunct cryptocurrency exchange Mt Gox’s has confirmed that it has liquidated over USD 230 million worth of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash from its wallets.

The exchange suffered a mammoth USD 470 million hack back in 2014 and declared bankruptcy. Now the recent sell-off is allowing the company to get out of bankruptcy by compensating its investors and getting into a rehabilitation program.

Malaysia

Government encouraging industries to adopt blockchain: The top three industries of Malaysia are being asked to promote blockchain growth in them that will enable transparency, efficiency and sustainability by a government-formed task force. The three top sectors include renewable energy, palm oil and Islamic finance.

In the energy sector, the government is confident to lead the growth in renewable energy with the help of blockchain technology by categorizing energy as green or emission-related. Similarly, in banking and palm oil, blockchain technology can create a recipe for success according to the government.

Hong Kong

Stock exchange firm announcing blockchain and fintech acquisition strategy: The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is looking to invest in blockchain and other fintech companies starting next year.

The progressive move was announced due to increased interest by the public in the blockchain space and encouraging government attitude. The stock exchange is already partnering with Australian Securities Exchange to implement blockchain technology in its system.

Australia

Research blockchain to conduct 30,000 cross-border transactions per second: Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) is testing a new blockchain developed by the University of Sydney group called Red Belly Network and can reportedly process 30,000 transactions per second.

The Concurrent Systems Research Group (CSRG) of the university was behind the creation of this project and the blockchain will help CSIRO to improve the speed of cross-border transactions to help monitor environmental risks including those posed to marine life.

 

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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 7th to 13th September 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.

Japan

Financial regulator adds more experts for crypto license applications: The Japanese financial regulator Financial Services Agency (FSA) has announced that more individuals are being added to its 30-strong team for cryptocurrency exchange license applications in the country.

Cryptocurrencies and exchanges are doing a roaring business right now with more and more players looking to enter the market. FSA is trying to strike a balance between newcomers to promote competition and security of Japanese investors.

According to reports from Japan, there are over 160 applications pending from companies in the space with some big names looking to enter the market.

South Korea

Firm offering insurance against hacking of crypto exchanges: Cryptocurrency exchange operators in the country can now get their exchanges insured against hacking attempts to cover for sizable losses that happen from time to time.

The new offer from Hanwha Insurance means that domestic South Korean exchanges will now have an option for an additional layer of security.

A representative of the Insurance company said:

“It is not a product that has to be compulsory, but it can be outlined if we discuss how much demand there will be. Even if the exchange wants to join, it will require as much coordination as the insurance and reinsurance companies need to meet in order to get insurance.”

Hacked exchanges are a big problem in South Korea as more than USD 500 million worth of coins have already been hacked from major exchanges in the country this year alone.

China

Government to track donations with the help of blockchain technology: The Chinese government is planning to implement blockchain technology to track charitable donations made in the country through their Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA).

The Chinese government has always been wary of donations and charities that could be misused against the integrity of the country. The ministry has announced a four-year plan for charities to enhance governmental outreach and transparency in the field. NGOs and other charitable organizations will be made to held accountable for all donations through this under-development system.

Uzbekistan

Government looking for South Korean blockchain expertise: South Korea’s blockchain expertise has found overseas admiration and demand as other countries like Uzbekistan are looking to them for developing blockchain industry in their own country.

The Central Asian country recently legalized cryptocurrency trading in the country and has announced initial regulations for mining and trading in the country as well as a state-owned coin trading platform. It is in that regards that the government has sought help from the Korean Blockchain Business Association for help. The government is also looking to offer specialized educational courses in its local universities.

Australia

Driver’s license to be based on blockchain technology: The Australian government has announced that blockchain technology will now be incorporated into public services as part of its forward-thinking approach. The government will trial a digital drivers’ license backed by blockchain in Sydney.

The move is part of a concerted effort to deploy blockchain for better governance. The move will give 140,000 license holders an access to the newly-developed secure Logic TrustGrid license.

The tech behind the blockchain drivers’ license was developed by Australian data security company Secure Logic’s platform. The company is looking to partner with the government for further projects because of the potential of the technology.

 

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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 24th to 30th August 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.

Japan

Actress takes role with Tokyo police to fight crypto fraud and cyber crimes: Japanese singer and celebrity actress Rie Kitahara has appeared in a public awareness campaign against cyber crime and crypto fraud in the country.

The campaign was an event that included 1,700 guests and focused on cyber crimes like phishing and fake websites. The police department is currently cooperating with big exchanges in the country including SBI Virtual Currencies, Bitflyer, Bitpoint Japan, GMO Coin, Bittrade, Quoine, Bitbank, Btc Box, Money Partners and Coincheck.

South Korea

Government hosts blockchain awareness hackathon: The South Korean government has announced that it will be holding a Blockchain Grand Hackathon Challenge in partnership with Korea IT Industry Promotion Agency (KIPA) and the Ministry of Science and Technology.

The hackathon challenge announced last week is a chance for blockchain developers to create solutions for social issues, distributed apps and create innovations for public and private industries. Participants will have until 28 September to sign up for the hackathon. The tournament also has a prize pot of KRW 100 million (USD 90,450).

North Korea

Government to host Pyongyang blockchain conference: The North Korean government in a first, is expected to announce a blockchain conference in the capital of Pyongyang later this year.

While North Korea is usually in the crypto news for the wrong reasons, the government has probably decided it is time to start opening up the country in anticipation of ending of tough sanctions against the country. There is little news regarding the event overall and its agenda, however.

India

Government considering rupee-backed digital currency to combat rising fiat cost: The Indian government and the Reserve Bank of India are deliberating the introduction of a rupee-backed cryptocurrency in the country to lower the burden of printing paper money and coins that is creating a crisis.

According to Financial Services company EY India’s Manesh Makhia:

“The idea of a central bank-issued digital currency is very promising though issues around digital counterfeiting will need to be addressed.”

The issues started with demonetization in the country that resulted in 99.3% of the money being returned to the bank with just over INR 100 billion left in the market. A rupee-backed cryptocurrency will surely solve many solutions for the country according to reserve bank officials.

Cambodia

Oxfam to trial blockchain app to help Cambodian farmers with pricing rice: Oxfam International has said that it is piloting a blockchain-based farming project that aims to help rice farmers get a fair price for their produce.

There are over 50 rice farmers already on board for the project which is dubbed Blocrice. Oxfam aims to pilot test the project and then introduce it across the country.

Malaysia

Crypto Expo Asia to be held in Malaysia: The “mega event” Crypto Expo Asia will be held in Malaysia this year, bringing blockchain professionals from across the world in the Southeast Asian nation.

The event is being organized by FINEXPO, an influential fintech company in the area and aims to bring a real show. Over 30,000 crypto enthusiasts, investors, traders, innovators and pioneers are expected to attend the event.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong looking for blockchain professionals: Hong Kong is increasing its support for blockchain development and innovation in the country and is on the lookout for more industry professionals to focus on the DLT side of things.

A talent list issued by the government of Hong Kong lists DLT skills as new professions that it needs for future development of vital industries.

Australia

Government may develop nationwide blockchain platform: The Australia Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) announced that a data consortium has been launched with the help of IBM and law firm Herbert Smith Freehills for building a nationwide blockchain smart contracts platform for Australian businesses to collaborate and do business with.

The platform will be called Australian National Blockchain (ANB) and is being presented as a future game-changer in the future. The pilot project will start using the IBM Blockchain.

 

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NEM Strengthens Regional Foothold with Two New Blockchain Hubs in Australasia

Creators of the XEM digital currency NEM have announced that the company is to open two blockchain hubs in Australia and New Zealand.

The Australian hub will be located in Brisbane at Fortitude Valley and its New Zealand counterpart will be established in Westport. NEM Foundation’s director for Australia and NZ, Jason Lee, said that both hubs will be represented by a NEM staff member in place with a role to “educate and inform the general public and businesses about the benefits and applications of blockchain”.

The Australian hub is hosted by TravelByBit which promotes the use of cryptocurrencies in Australia’s tourism industry and has become a supporter of numerous businesses which accept Bitcoin and other digital currencies for food, services and travel around the country.

Caleb Yeoh of TravelByBit, who is also a board member of Blockchain Australia, welcomes the NEM connections and sees it as another positive move towards Australia’s wider cryptocurrency “education and adoption”.

The New Zealand hub in Westport, just a 45-minute flight from New Zealand’s capital Wellington, will also include a co-working space and will provide regular educational and engagement activities as well as a NEM incubation platform.

New Zealand’s Minister of State for Trade and Export Damien O’Connor is positive that such hubs demonstrate the country’s desire to be in the vanguard of promoting new technologies in the region. He stated:

“Blockchain development represents an exciting new frontier for startups in New Zealand and it’s great to see that going on in our regions with such strong international support.”

The XEM Foundation is now a feature of 47 countries around the world and the two regional hubs see themselves as key in being able to encourage local startups and to promote NEM’s Global Community Fund which currently has $ 300 million allocated to it annually.

Asian markets, primarily Japan and South Korea, will be encouraged by XEM’s new presence in Australia and New Zealand, giving the company a real foothold in Australasia.

 

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Australia Tackles Crypto Taxation with New Crypto Classification

Australia’s tax authority has declared intentions to track citizens who hide their cryptocurrency gains offshore using data-matching services that also target “unexplained assets and wealth”.

Taxation

Earlier in 2018, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) published guidelines on the taxation of virtual currencies. It highlighted Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that behave similarly to Bitcoin as neither being money, or foreign currency, but a property deemed similar to assets, making them liable for capital gains tax.

Despite the bullish comments from Tony Richards, head of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) in June, it was evident in his eyes that the mainstream adoption of virtual currencies wasn’t to happen in the foreseeable future, which may have contributed to the “asset” classification.

“100-point” check

Also in June, ATO announced its enforcement of crypto tax requirements through a 100-point check, which is a system that will be utilizing sophisticated data-matching techniques and is a system already favored by the Australian government as well as other sectors.

Through existing data-sharing agreements with over 40 other nations, the ATO can now target crypto-investors trading on offshore exchanges. It is estimated by the country’s accounting body CPA Australia that this will be the first time ever that “hundreds of thousands” of Australian taxpayers will make cryptocurrency tax declarations.

However, ATO acting deputy commissioner Martin Jacobs believes it is impossible to tell just how many will be including gains and losses on cryptocurrencies in their tax returning this year.

End of double taxation

Up until now, there had been a “double tax” on cryptocurrencies which lifted on 1 July 2018. The 2017-2018 Budget Summary writes: “The Government will make it easier for new innovative digital currency businesses to operate in Australia… purchases of digital currency will no longer be subject to the GST.”

It later added: “Currently, consumers who use digital currencies can effectively bear GST twice: once on the purchase of the digital currency and once again on its use in exchange for other goods and services subject to the GST.”

Speaking with local media outlet the Australian Financial Review (AFR) Jacobs said, “Our feeling is that the vast majority of investors who joined the bubble in 2017 are likely to be in the loss position as opposed to a gain… The other assumption is they probably haven’t disposed of their cryptocurrency. They might just be holding it.”

Under that condition, there would be no tax implications; Jacobs did reveal that the ATO isn’t “alarmed” by the crypto-specific tax compliance risks.

He said, “Where people attempt to deliberately avoid these obligations we will attempt to take action. We have a range of existing powers that are designed to address unexplained wealth and conspicuous consumption that may arise through profits derived through cryptocurrency investment.”

 

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