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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 1st to 7th June 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.

Asia

Japan

Fujitsu starts blockchain-based reward points system: Japanese tech company Fujitsu has successfully rolled out a new blockchain-based system for its promotional campaigns like reward points and discount coupons according to a press release issued by the company last Wednesday.

According to the company, the system is going to be deployed across Japan to create awareness among merchants regarding its rewards program and how the promotional activities can be based on blockchain technology.

South Korea

Crypto margin trading to be treated as illegal gambling: The Cyber Crime Division of the South Korea government has declared that margin trading service in cryptocurrency exchanges that are on offer on most systems is equivalent to illegal gambling. The move comes after three Coinone executives involved in margin trading were reportedly close to being arrested because of margin trading.

The groundbreaking announcement was announced after problems arose in the margin trading business of Coinone, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea. In the exchange, users could borrow as much four times as their deposits in the cryptocurrency exchange and could make money or lose some depending on the behavior of the markets.

Supreme Court rules crypto as assets: In a groundbreaking move, the Supreme Court of South Korea has overturned the decision of a lower court and declared that Bitcoin is a recognizable asset. 

The move came after a notorious case last year in which a 33-year-old child pornography suspect was found to have BTC 216 but the government couldn’t confiscate them because the law didn’t recognize them as “tangible assets”.

Vietnam

Government calls for crypto mining equipment ban: The Vietnamese finance ministry has announced that it is proposing banning cryptocurrency mining equipment imports in the country according to government sources.

The latest proposal is seen as a step towards a blanket cryptocurrency ban in the country as the country treats all non-cash payments as illegal and Bitcoin is not yet recognized as cash.

Indonesia

Supervisory board signals green light for Bitcoin futures: The country’s top securities regulator Indonesian Futures Exchange Supervisory Board (Bappebti) has finally designated cryptocurrencies as commodities and they are now available for trading in the future exchange according to latest reports from Coindesk.

The Bappebti was formed in 2005 to regulate the financial market in Indonesia. Jakarta Post posted the news that the governmental commission after an extensive four-month study cleared the way for Bitcoin futures trading in the country.

Philippines

Government looking to blockchain for tax collection: The Philippines department of finance is looking towards blockchain technology for improving tax collection and business improvement initiatives according to latest reports from the Pacific nation.

Paolo Alvarez, the DOF spokesperson said:

“Yes, of course, we are open to exploring blockchain. Secretary (Carlos) Dominguez is really pushing for the application of financial technology. He wants to harness fintech to improve business, for example, payment of taxes online.”

While this is vague, it may be seen as a positive development towards pursuing blockchain-based solutions.

China

Blockchain “checks” to combat fraud being developed by China central bank: Digital Currency Research Lab by Di Gang in People’s Bank of China has announced that is going to use a system capable of issuing blockchain-based checks to combat check-related frauds in the Chinese market.

The tech was the result of a year-long effort initiated by the Chinese government to decrease fraud in the country’s sprawling fintech setup. The country has been suffering from check-related fraud for some time because of a large number of intermediaries that issue checks and it is difficult to legitimize the entire operation.

State TV claims blockchain 10 times more valuable than internet: The Chinese government is banking a lot on the success and application of blockchain technology with the state-run CCTV channel saying that blockchain could be “ten times as valuable” than the internet.

In an hour-long panel in Chinese language by host Chen Weihong, the panelists, including private and public blockchain innovators, termed the technology as exciting and futuristic that will have a lot of worth in the future.

Baidu develops ‘SuperChain’: Baidu has announced the successful development of a new blockchain protocol called SuperChain. The protocol will allow diverse applications of the technology in the future.

Baidu has been at the forefront of the blockchain revolution in the country. It is one of the most popular platforms in the world as 76% of Chinese searches taking place through its search engine rather than Google.

Brunei

Bitcoin as valuable as world’s most valuable currency, Brunei’s 10,000 dollar note: Brunei Darussalam is one of the richest countries in the world according to state wealth and as of right now with Bitcoin hovering around USD 7,420, the cryptocurrency’s unit worth is just about the same as the most expensive currency note: the 10,000 Brunei dollar bill issued first back in December 2006.

While Bitcoin has seen better days, even now the biggest cryptocurrency in the world is equal to the most expensive currency note. The total market cap is, however, less than the tiny East Asian nation’s riches.

Australia

Company loses $6.6 million in crypto: Australian company Byte Power Party has lost over USD 6.6 million worth of cryptocurrencies when a Singapore-based company Soar Labs tried to invest in it without actually paying for it.

The bizarre incident occurred when Soar Labs was found to have a backdoor in its contracts and reportedly froze the coins it had paid to the Byte Power company in exchange for buying 49% of their stake. When Byte Power started selling their coins, Soar found out and stopped the process through the backdoor. Soar will likely be facing criminal charges in the backdrop of this incident.

 

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Bitcoin Officially at Parity With World’s Most Valuable Brunei 1,000-Dollar Banknote

Bitcoin’s price of USD 7,420 at time of writing is at near-parity with the 10,000 Brunei dollar (BND) bill issued by Brunei in December 2006, yielding an equivalent price of USD 7,132.

Brunei is a country of less than half a million people located on the island of Borneo in the South Pacific. Brunei’s BND 10,000 banknote features a picture of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, the current leader of Brunei, one of the wealthiest men on Earth with a net worth of USD 20 billion. It is fitting that the most valuable banknote in circulation on the planet has the image of one of the wealthiest individuals on the planet.

The price of Bitcoin is volatile and, in general, this year Bitcoin has been worth far more than the BND bill. Bitcoin went as high as USD 20,000 USD when it hit record highs in December 2017. However, before November 2017 Bitcoin’s price was far below that of the banknote.

The BND is legally at parity with the Singapore dollar (SGD), and Singapore used to print its own SGD 10,000 banknote but took it out of circulation to prevent money laundering, leaving the Bruneian banknote as the most valuable fiat currency bill officially in circulation.

Indeed, many other countries have taken their large denomination fiat banknotes out of circulation to prevent money laundering. A briefcase containing USD 1 million of USD 100 bills would be 70% full, while a briefcase with USD 1 million worth of BND 10,000 bills would only be 1.5% full. It is, therefore, very easy to conceal huge amounts of money with the larger bills, thought to help illegal activity.

The European Union is getting rid of its EUR 500 bill, unofficially called the Bin Laden since it was so often used to launder money for terrorism. Latvia is also getting rid of its LAT 500 bill. One notable holdout is Switzerland who refuses to get rid of its CHF 1,000 (Swiss franc) bill.

Bitcoin would appear to be efficient for money launderers too, probably more so than any banknote since it can be sent anywhere in the world anonymously and instantly. However, its traceability on a public blockchain has proven to be the downfall of many would-be launderers, as proven by the high-profile takedowns of online dark markets since 2014.

The largest banknote ever in history was probably the USD 100,000 bill issued in 1934, but this was discontinued in 1940 and was only for intra-governmental use by the Federal Reserve when it was in circulation. Of course, these bills still exist and are legal tender. Perhaps one day in coming years, Bitcoin will exceed the value of the USD 100,000 bill should long-term trends continue, at which point it will be more valuable than any fiat banknote printed in history.

 

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