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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 20th to 26th 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.

South Korea

Financial watchdog urges lawmakers to move forward with crypto bill: The South Korean Financial Services Commission (FSC) has urged the nation’s lawmakers to pass the first cryptocurrency regulatory bill in the country according to latest reports from Bloomberg this week.

Hong Seong-ki the head of the FSC’s cryptocurrency security team has already warned the security and money laundering issues associated with the country’s unchecked cryptocurrency exchanges. He said:

“While crypto markets have seen rapid growth, such trading platforms don’t seem to be well-enough prepared in terms of security. We’re trying to legislate the most urgent and important things first, aiming for money-laundering prevention [AML] and investor protection. The bill should be passed as soon as possible.”

FSC joined the probe in May this year following a request to look into Anti Money Laundering (AML) compliance by many of Korea’s exchanges. While the FSC is pushing for the new bill, it is yet clear how much support it commands from the assembly itself.

Japan

New regulator limits margin trading loans: A new Japanese internal regulator has set a limit on margin trading loans in cryptocurrency exchanges. Margin trading is a process of borrowing money to trade in cryptocurrency when the investor has insufficient money.

The new borrowing limit under the newly-formed Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association shows that Japan is ready to regulate where it matters because margin trading bears the risk of losing a lot of money. The limit right now is set at four times the deposit amount.

According to the Financial Services Agency of Japan, 142,000 cryptocurrency traders were present in Japan in April but the total number of traders is as much as 3 million according to other statistics.

Internal affairs denies links to crypto exchange inquiries: Japan’s Interior Ministry has refuted any claims of it being linked to the latest FSA investigations into cryptocurrency exchanges.

Interior Minister Seiko Noda was accused of meddling in the investigations by local crypto outlets. The current investigation involves a non-registered Tokyo-based cryptocurrency exchange which had previously remained unresponsive to FSA inquiries.

Noda rejected the allegations and stated that it was overall a matter of getting “an overall general account of cryptocurrency exchanges” but many in the crypto community showed their disapproval through social media.

The FSA is an autonomous organization in Japan that regulates the financial industry in the country and doesn’t take direct dictation from the government.

China

Ethereum blockchain used to overcome Chinese censorship on vaccines: According to latest reports from China, a vaccine scandal is forcing Chinese social workers to use blockchain to bypass Chinese censorship on medicines in the country.

Reports claim that ChangChun Changsheng Biotech company sold unsafe vaccines in the country, resulting in public condemnation. The story that broke through a blogger’s expose went viral in WeChat, the Chinese social media network.

But, due to the Chinese government’s hard-handed measure, the post from social media was removed by censor boards on social media. However, a group of users used a ETH 0.001 transfer with the story attached and helped break the censorship. Due to the decentralized nature of the Ethereum blockchain, it was out of reach for the Chinese authorities.

Blockchains, especially programmable ones like Ethereum and NEO, are being used to overcome censorship in the country that has some of the toughest systems in place in the world.

Chinese study reveals positive effects of blockchain: A latest Chinese study done under China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and Tencent Holdings has reaffirmed the notion that investing in blockchain will have a profound impact on improving financial services in the country.

While China itself has banned ICOs, exchanges and cryptocurrencies, it is one of the most progressive countries in adopting blockchain in various areas of governance. Recently, a USD 1.4 billion fund was established to further blockchain progress in the country.

Iran

US accused of stealing BTC 500 from Iranian holders: President of Iran’s Blockchain Association Sepehr Muhammadi has said that over BTC 500 (worth USD 4.1 million) have been seized from Iranian citizens by US authorities.

Muhammadi said that Bitcoin confiscations were still being done to Iranian citizens in the garb of sanctions against the Iranian government. He said:

“Last year, a remarkable volume of Bitcoins which belonged to some Iranians were confiscated for unspecific reasons by the federal government of the United States, and the process of confiscation is still continuing. The owners of confiscated Bitcoins are unable to take legal action against the US inside Iran as cryptocurrencies are banned in the country. The association is looking to take international legal action, but they have not yet found a legal expert in anti-money laundering law who will handle the case.”

The best way for Iranians to avoid this controversy is to hold their coins in a wallet and not an online exchange that governments and hackers have easy access to.

India

Indian law commission recognizes crypto as online electronic payment: An Indian Law Commission has recognized cryptocurrency as an online payment method.

The lawmakers from the country are debating on whether allowing cryptocurrency should be allowed as a legally accepted payment in the multi-billion dollar sports betting industry that is currently in the process of being legalized.

Pakistan

Pakistanis looking to crypto to avoid dollar inflation: Pakistan’s national currency rupee’s recent fall against the dollar is resulting in some Pakistanis looking towards Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a safe bet, according to latest reports from Forbes.

Pakistan is suffering from foreign currency liquidity issues and that is the reason why the US dollar has jumped up to 25% since the start of the calendar year, thus causing panic in financial circles, amplified by the recent elections.

Australia

Australian blockchain innovators using blockchain to tackle election rigging: An Australian startup is using blockchain to help improve the election processes in other countries.

The project is currently being tested in Indonesia where almost every other election is branded as rigged because of widespread nature of the constellation of islands that make up the country.

The Melbourne-based Horizon State Blockchain startup is working on a test case to launch a community-voter platform in Sumatra that would provide greater transparency and accuracy.

 

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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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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 4th to 10th May 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.

Thailand

Government levies taxes on crypto despite opposition: Thailand is the latest country to levy taxes on cryptocurrencies despite opposition at home. Thai blockchain associations were against the aggressive tax policy and the move follows the regional trend of crypto taxes after Australia and other nations levied taxes on crypto gains.

The ministry of finance had already released plans to introduce taxes for cryptocurrency trading and investment.  Thai digital currency associations voiced their concerns regarding the move and the minister responded but the move eventually took place.

The proposed 15% tax is considered stifling for the growth of cryptocurrencies and blockchain space. In addition to this basic levy, a 7% value-added tax is also levied on all cryptocurrency trades. The legislation is still in its infancy and the government has no infrastructure in place to audit the crypto taxes.

Stock exchange launches crowdfunding blockchain: The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) has announced the launch of a decentralized crowdfunding platform based on blockchain to facilitate small businesses and enterprises in the country.

The platform is named LiVE and has plans to provide a complete startup ecosystem which will also provide the necessary education for new businesses to get easier access to institutional investors as well. More than 50 companies are targeted to join the program.

China

Police announce blockchain-based evidence storage: The Chinese ministry of public security has announced the development of a blockchain application that stores evidence from police investigations safely and securely for long-term. The tech was patented at China’s Intellectual property office back in November 2017 and it automatically takes police data and stores it in cloud storage.

This will help solve the problem of falsified records and fake evidence, according to Chinese authorities since blockchain technology can help data become tamper-proof. Criminals will no longer be able to easily hack into the government databases and wipe out the records.

600 Bitcoin mining rigs believed to be from Iceland seized in China: Police in the city of Tianjin, China have seized a record 600 Bitcoin mining rigs in a raid, which is the same number of machines that were reportedly stolen in Iceland heists back in December and January.

The mining operation had caused a short circuit due to stealing power from the national grid after authorities found out that there was a sudden 28% increase in power consumption on one line alone.

India

Crypto exchanges challenge banking restrictions in top court: Indian cryptocurrency exchanges have challenged the central bank’s decision to stop facilitating the transactions of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

This is the third challenge to cryptocurrencies in the market and the most severe as all banking services have been blocked off to the crypto exchanges and they include big local names like Coindelta exchange, Koinex exchange, Throughbit Exchange and CoinDCX.

The petitions will likely be heard in India’s top court on 11 May 2018.

Taiwan

Binance CEO sees ICOs as future of VC: The CEO of popular cryptocurrency trading platform Binance has stated that he believes initial coin offerings (ICOs) are the future of venture capital investments. Changpen Zhao, the CEO believes that the digital crowdfunding method is not just a “good-to-have” option but a genuine future for the system.

Binance is currently based in Taiwan after previous operations in China and Japan.

South Korea

Regulators positive about crypto: The new head of the Korean State’s financial watchdog Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) Yoon Suk-heun has made some encouraging comments regarding the future legislation around cryptocurrencies.

He at least admitted that cryptocurrencies have “some positive aspects” and could have a part in the future. This seems that the confrontational situation has so far dialed down below the 38th parallel since last September’s ban when regulators had “serious doubts” about cryptocurrencies.

The top regulator also said, “there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed and reviewed. We can figure them out but gradually.”

Japan

FSA crackdown on anonymous exchanges and crypto businesses on the cards: Japan continues its love-hate relationship with cryptocurrencies with the Financial Security Agency (FSA) mulling actions against anonymous cryptocurrency exchanges and startups in the country.

It is also trying to see the exchanges delist currencies like ZCash, Monero and Dash, something that goes far beyond the normal crypto regulations that we have gotten used to in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Indonesia

Private and public sectors encouraged to apply blockchain technology: The South East Asian country is encouraging both the private and public sectors to invest in blockchain technology to solve complex problems that are plaguing the country including storage and application of data according to latest reports from Reuters.

The country is a challenge to administer as 250 million inhabitants are spread over a total of 17,000 islands. The Financial Services Authority has assembled a team and they are investigating the applications of the technology for the future.

Singapore

Physical Bitcoin smart banknotes launched: Singaporean Bitcoin startup Tangem has announced a physical Bitcoin banknote at a popular shopping center in the island state. The banknotes are available in denominations starting from BTC 0.01 btc onwards. Each note has a chip that cost the company USD 2 to make and it stores the private keys.

It is the first hardware solution in the form of banknotes with certification for its entire hardware and electronics according to EAL6+ and EMVCo standards. The company is committed to “radically improve the simplicity and security of acquiring, owning, and circulating cryptocurrencies for both sophisticated and incoming users”.

Tangem has a presence in South Korea and Southern China, Taiwan, Russia, and Israel.

Australia

Government earmarks $700 million for blockchain research: The Australian budget has recently unveiled an allocation of USD 700,000 for the blockchain Space to “to investigate areas where blockchain technology could offer the most value for government service”.

 

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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 27th April to 3rd May 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.

The Korean Peninsula

Korea peace treaty inscribed in blockchain: The historic Korea peace declaration by North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in on 27 April 2018 was immutably recorded on the Ethereum blockchain. The move was done by Ryi Gi-Hyeok, a prominent South Korean game developer, after the two leaders met at the demilitarized zone on the border.

Rye coded the two Ether transactions, including the Panmunjom Declaration, one in English and the other in Korean. He explained:

“I just thought it took too long for the South and the North to give way to each other… After finding out what I could contribute to this historic achievement as a developer, I found the Panmunjom Declaration on the Blue House homepage and recorded it on Ethereum.”

He has further plans to launch a website to keep all important historic records in permanent, immutable storage on Ethereum.

Samsung posts record-breaking quarter thanks to crypto mining surge: South Korean tech giant Samsung’s investment into ASIC chips for Bitcoin mining seems to have paid off as the company posted a record operating income for the first quarter of 2018 and a profit of $14.5 billion.

Vice president, investor relations, Robert Yi was of the opinion:

“In the semiconductor business, earnings increased significantly year-over-year thanks to favorable memory market conditions driven by a strong demand for server and graphics memory as well as earnings improvements in both System LSI and foundry businesses led by increasing demand for chips used in flagship smartphones and cryptocurrency mining”.

Bank of Korea considering blockchain as part of cashless society concept: The South Korean cryptocurrency scene is exploding after Samsung announced record profits from ASIC chips sales and now the Bank of Korea is considering cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology as part of its “cashless society concept”.

The bank has announced the official launch of its cashless society project on its 2017 Payment Report, according to a post from TokenPost on 1 May 2018.

Japan

Crypto enquiries tripled in 2017: The Japanese Financial Security Agency (FSA) has released figures of cryptocurrency enquiries and they have gone up by more than three times since the same time last year. Over 3.5 million people have been trading in cryptocurrencies in Japan and the new figures confirm the massive spike in public interest in cryptocurrencies since the course of last year.

What is interesting is that most of the enquiries were from the 40s and 50s age groups and were regarding the legitimacy of ICOs and the security of the exchange platforms. It seems the older Japanese generation is also getting into cryptocurrencies.

Taiwan

Binance more profitable than Deutsche Bank: Binance, one of the biggest exchanges in the world, has outperformed the mighty Deutsche Bank in terms of profitability, according to latest figures from both of these organizations. Binance posted a profit of USD 200 million between January and March, while Deutsche Bank only recorded net gains of USD 146 million, significantly under a targeted USD 456 million amount.

Binance was originally founded in China but since then moved to Japan before eventually settling in Republic of China (Taiwan).

Singapore

Singapore fast tracks patents and crypto ride-hailing: The Singapore government has just announced its Fast Track Fintech initiative that is aimed at accelerating the patent approval process for fintech areas including cryptocurrencies and blockchain-based payments.

The development was announced by Low Ling, the senior parliamentary secretary for ministry of trade and industry. His office said:

“The incorporation of blockchain technology to improve the security and efficiency of clearing and settlement across borders for transaction and payment is deemed as a Fintech invention.”

Hong Kong

Government finds crypto not implicated in financial crime increase: The Hong Kong government’s investigation into criminal activity has revealed that criminals are still more likely to use conventional methods of money transfer rather than cryptocurrencies to move black money from one place to another.

Normally, cryptocurrencies are blamed for most of the money laundering efforts in criminal circles but this investigation proves that conventional systems are more likely to be used in this space than cryptocurrencies.

Australia

UNICEF announces mining project to help fund education: UNICEF Australia has announced a cryptocurrency mining initiative in which computing resources from donors will be used to mine cryptocurrency which in turn will be used to raise fiat money to invest in education.

The project is called the Hope Page and will be used to mine the cryptocurrency Monero using donors’ computer processing power that can be anything from powerful ASIC miners to a regular PC with GPU.

UNICEF launched a similar project back in February to help the Syrian civil war crisis.

Stock exchange okays plan for blockchain: The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) has announced plans to replace its old clearance and settlement system with a blockchain-based alternative as early as 2020.

The idea had been in the pipeline for some time since 2015 but the decision arrived back in December last year when the stock exchange announced plans to become the world’s first stock exchange to employ blockchain technology.

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