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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 13th to 19th April 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

Central bank not interested in state crypto: The Bank of Japan has said in a blanket statement that it has no plans right now to issue a central bank-issued cryptocurrency. The policy came forward during a recent conference between the International Monetary fund (IMF) and Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) in which the bank’s deputy governor Masayoshi Amamiya said that such a currency could undermine the bank’s two-tier system and destabilize it.

Amamiya said: “…the issuance of central bank digital currencies for general use would be analogous to directly allowing households and firms to have accounts in the central bank.”

Yahoo Japan set to be 40% stakeholder in crypto exchange: Yahoo Japan plans to purchase almost 40% minority stakes in the cryptocurrency exchange named BitARG which is based in Tokyo. BitARG will only be launched later this year. The whole deal, according to a report from Reuters, cost between USD 18.5 million and USD 27.8 million. BitARG has recently been granted a license to operate a domestic cryptocurrency trading platform.

Crypto traders cross 3 million mark: Japanese cryptocurrency traders are growing in number with the latest figure reportedly around 3 million people, according to the data from Japan’s FSA. The figures show that as of 31 March 2018, around 3.5 million people traded cryptocurrencies and around 90% of the population are in the age bracket of 20-40 years.

The release of this data is the agency’s latest move to bring greater transparency in Japan’s ever-developing cryptocurrency environment.

South Korea

Financial watchdog to investigate banks based on new crypto rules: The South Korean Financial Services Commission (FSC) will investigate three of its banks to see if they are complying with the latest rules against anonymity. The new regulation enforced by the agency means that traders have to use bank accounts on their own names to buy cryptocurrencies through exchanges. The rules were enforced to stop money laundering in the country.

 

India

Over 17,000 sign petition against crypto ban: Over 17,000 crypto traders and industry workers have launched a combined petition against the Indian Central Bank’s move to close crypto-related accounts on 5 April, 2018. The petition was started by a few younger traders but was soon co-signed by thousands across the country. It states that cryptocurrencies are here to stay and prohibition of business activities affects the country’s growing market.

 

Vietnam

Vietnam tightens  crypto regulation after ICOs scam over 32,00 investors: Vietnam has recently announced that it is tightening regulations on cryptocurrencies after two initial coin offering scams affected more than 32,000 investors resulting in losses of up to USD 660 million. The two ICOs, Ifan and PinCoin, bore the hallmarks of a Ponzi scheme and have attracted official investigation into them in the Asian country.

The ICOs were launched through conferences in Hanoi and remote parts of the country in order to lure unsuspecting customers. Both of them promised hefty profits and activity but were soon exposed as scams.

 

Philippines

Philippine boxing great Manny Pacquiao said last Wednesday that he would soon launch a cryptocurrency to connect with fans. He is the third famous athlete to have talked about launching a cryptocurrency with the previous moves of Michael Owen and Floyd Mayweather also making headlines.

However, Pacquiao is cautious as compared to the other two as he is vocally in favor of regulating cryptocurrencies and taking it slow and moving forward organically.

 

Australia

New power plant announced for “Blockchain Silicon Valley”: An Australian tech firm called IOT group has partnered with an energy provider Hunter Energy to reset up a power plant in the country to offer pre-grid cost effective prices to blockchain businesses nearby.

The Redbank power station near Singleton, which is rated at 150 megawatts, was closed back in 2014 when it incurred a debt of over USD 192 million. Hunter Energy has reportedly acquired the station and it is in “care and maintenance mode”.

The company is aiming to provide the basis for a blockchain Silicon Valley in Australia. The plan is to offer space to host data centers and even miners with direct access to electricity from the power plant.

 

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Pantera CEO Dan Morehead Calls Rare Bitcoin Buy Signal

Pantera Capital CEO Dan Morehead has stated that Bitcoin’ss sideways action at USD 8,000 is about to end, with the company today signalling a perfect time to get in for the long.

Morehead’s company is well known for its exclusive focus on digital currencies and blockchain technology. Its rational analysis is based on Bitcoin’s 200-day moving average, believing that it had crossed below that threshold today.

“Bitcoin just hit that rare buy signal again”, said Morehead. He added:

“On the surface, it seems as though the higher the 200-day moving average goes, the more bullish the market is (and the lower it goes, the more bearish). In practice, however, the reverse is true. Extremely high readings are a warning that the market may soon reverse to the downside. High readings reveal that traders are far too optimistic. When this occurs, fresh new buyers are often few and far between. Meanwhile, shallow readings signify the reverse; the bears are in the ascendancy, and a bottom is near. The shorter the moving average, the sooner you’ll see a change in the market.”

#Bitcoin Price Cycles

After a 1067-day bull market, a downdraft which is spot on previous bear markets in depth, retracement.

My old friends in the hedge fund space would love the Fibonacci 0.618 bounce.

If I were a betting man, I’d say we’ve seen the lows of this cycle. pic.twitter.com/KIO80OFJtk

— Dan Morehead (@dan_pantera) February 7, 2018

Pantera has only made four trade recommendations in seven years, most of which have been based on the 200-day moving average. It holds an impressive portfolio of the top three coins by market capitalization, along with other alternative coins such as ZCash, ShapeShift and Civic.

 

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Samsung Investing in Blockchain Shipping Technologies

Samsung is joining a number of other companies in exploring the idea of using blockchain logistics to streamline global supply chains. It is reported that the tech giant has already begun developing a distributed ledger system to monitor international shipments.

Recently, IBM has teamed up with Danish shipping giant Maersk and India’s JM Baxi, in order to digitalize their import and export process with blockchain.

Energy is one of the most frequently traded resources and the implementation of a more efficient system has captivated market leaders. BP was testing a gas trading platform, while E.ON and Enel, have also experimented with similar energy trading platforms.

Sinochem, one of China’s main oil companies, used blockchain to monitor and store data on a shipment of gasoline to Singapore.

Issues surrounding current logistics

The top 20 exporters of containerized cargo transport a total of around  127.6 million fully-loaded TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit) globally a year. Countries with a higher level of human intervention can take up to 11 days to process logistics. OECD countries have managed to reduce this to about 9 hours but the process is still prone to human error.

Fraudulent goods are worth USD 1.4 trillion globally and tax avoidance continues to be an issue. Not only does this affect profits but health depending on the type of product and its use. There is a growing concern among consumers about imitations and problems with verifying the authenticity of a product.

Documentation can be held up or lost by middlemen, resulting in perishable goods being stuck in transit. This can end up costing up to a fifth of the total transportation costs as well as the price of the goods.

Benefits of blockchain logistics

Blockchain is set to help shippers, ports, customs offices and many other parties in the global supply chain by replacing paperwork with irrefutable digital records.

Blockchain could provide proof of provenance for goods by tracking them globally from the manufactures. Import details, fees, and taxes could all be programmed into smart contracts that release payments automatically once the conditions where met. Customers will see an improvement in services as the overall speed of the processes increase.  Tracking will include improved shipment data with timestamps and data being instantly accessible through a ledger.

Blockchain will benefit logistics by providing enhanced security and vendor management, as well as preventing the loss of goods.

 

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Chinese Government Backs $1.6 Billion Blockchain Startup Fund

A new Chinese blockchain startup fund, dubbed Xiong’An Global Blockchain Innovation Fund, has received backing from the Chinese government for 30% of its total required resources of USD 1.6 billion.

The initiative was announced Monday, with Xu Xiaoping acting as the official advisor for the project. Xiaoping is the founder of venture capital firm Zhenfund, a company previously invested in blockchain projects such as Stream and Lino. The fund will be managed by Li Xiaolai, a well-known blockchain investor and Bitcoin mogul.

The announcement took place at the opening ceremony of a new blockchain industrial park in Hangzhou, a city noted for its support of fintech innovations with technology conglomerate Alibaba headquartered there.

Local news outlet Sohu reported that USD 400 million of the total resources will be provided by the Hangzhou city local government. The remaining funds will be provided by Hangzhou-based venture capital firm Tunlan Investment, the official launchers of the enterprise.

The funds will be invested into promising local blockchain projects, with the new industrial park providing the startup companies with an incubation center.

Blockchain in China

Despite the government’s unfavorable policies on cryptocurrencies, China is a leading actor in the blockchain industry. The Xiong’An Global Blockchain Innovation Fund is the most recent of Chinese government-backed blockchain initiatives.

Also based in Hangzhou is a research body led by the government that recently launched a platform utilizing blockchain technology that provides a service for identity and supply-chain tracking. The platform has been dubbed the Blockchain Registry Open Platform (BROP), officially launched at a fintech summit in Hangzhou on 26 March. The research institute behind BROP operates under the jurisdiction of the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank.

A local investment association also backed by the government recently scrapped plans to found a blockchain funding center, allegedly due to internal structural conflicts.

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Asia Pacific: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 27th March to 5th April 2018

Asia Pacific

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

14% of Japan’s young male workforce invest in cryptocurrencies: According to a recent study by Shin R25, more than 14% of Japan’s young male employees in the age bracket of 25-30 regularly invest in cryptocurrencies. Out of these young enthusiasts, 92% got into it because it was a good investment while 37.4%invested because it was a “trend” and around 20% said they got into it because of media and investor acquaintances. Regarding future investment, around 45% were of the opinion that they would invest again in the future while 35% didn’t want to invest again because of sharply declining prices in the near-term. Japan continues to be a strong hub of investment in cryptocurrencies particularly Asian origin NEO and NEM coins.

Japan’s central bank encourages people to “try” cryptocurrencies: In a bold move, Japan’s central bank’s financial services information head Masashi in a Q&A summary called Lets think about cryptocurrencies” has called for the public to at least try cryptocurrencies in the future.

The official statement said: “To that end, it is important to actually try it in the world. There is reason to believe that [its maturity] will allow us to use existing cryptocurrencies, accumulate use cases and promote further technical development.”.

Japanese online broker bids for cryptocurrency exchange: Japanese cryptocurrency broker Monex is considering buying CoinCheck, a cryptocurrency exchange that suffered a high-profile hack back in January according to recent reports. Bitcoin’s price index actually experienced a significant increase in the following days following this positive news from the Land of the Rising Sun and rose above USD 7,400 after the news was aired as it would have given the embattled exchange another lifeline.

Chinese national arrested for cryptocurrency fraud: Japanese police revealed last Tuesday that they had arrested a Chinese citizen from Tokyo after the said person was caught selling client accounts in cryptocurrency exchanges that he had opened to a gang of criminals. The man, named by reports as Lin Xiaolin, had been living in Tokyo for a while. He has so far denied these allegations and could be trialled later on. When the cryptocurrency boom was at its peak, many cryptocurrency exchanges closed their doors to new investors because of scalability and security issues. Because of the demand, it was somewhat common to see people looking to buy existing cryptocurrency exchange accounts that were sitting idle or with negligible activity.

South Korea

Seoul to launch its own cryptocurrency: News from Seoul, the capital of South Korea, has confirmed earlier reports that the city administration is aiming to launch its own cryptocurrency called the S-Coin. The coin will be used for social benefits programs according to the mayor Park Won-soon and it will launch soon according to an interview with Coindesk Korea.

Won-Soon said: “As Seoul is the world’s leading city in the field of information and communications, including the Fourth Industrial Revolution, I think we should study new technologies such as blockchains.”.

Blockchain technology will potentially be used for a wide range of government administrative processes in South Korea.

Cryptocurrency exchanges promise market cleanup: Cryptocurrency exchanges operating from South Korea have called for a “healthier” market trend. The exchanges Gopax, Coinone and Korbit, one of the biggest in the country collectively declared this during the Deconomy conference in Seoul last Tuesday.

Exchange executives in lockup in embezzlement probe: South Korean authorities on cyber crime have arrested four executives from two cryptocurrency exchanges CoinNest and and another unnamed one on charges of embezzlement of customer funds.

According to a Reuters report, the prosecutors’ office alleged: “They are being questioned about the embezzlement of billions of won (tens of millions of dollars) from their clients’ accounts and transferring it to their own”.

China

Crypto mining company posing threat to AMD and Nvidia: Cryptocurrency Mining hardware is going to face increased competition in the future as US chipmakers AMD and Nvidia will be tested by Chinese hardware company Bitmain Technologies Ltd based in Beijing. The Chinese company just started sales of its powerful Ethereum mining hardware and will look to build on that and challenge the hegemony of AMD and Nvidia in GPU mining.

China likely to follow global cryptocurrency regulations: China will likely support a consensus-based global cryptocurrency regulatory framework according to a recent insight by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC). The move comes after recent investments in blockchain technology by the Chinese government and impending release of the first government-backed cryptocurrency in the country.

China’s government cryptocurrency gathering momentum: A group of Shanghai reporters got a rare look inside the secret project by the Chinese government to introduce a new state-backed cryptocurrency in the market. The reporters were allowed access into Bank of China Credit Card Development Ltd in Hanghzhou. However, the bank also doubled down on not recognizing other cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin or Ethereum.

India

Cryptocurrency purchases banned: Reserve Bank of India has banned cryptocurrency purchases from local fiat bank accounts according to latest sweeping measure in the South Asia country.

According to an RBI statement:

“Reserve Bank has repeatedly cautioned users, holders and traders of virtual currencies, including Bitcoins, regarding various risks associated in dealing with such virtual currencies. In view of the associated risks, it has been decided that, with immediate effect, entities regulated by RBI shall not deal with or provide services to any individual or business entities dealing with or settling VCs. Regulated entities which already provide such services shall exit the relationship within a specified time.”

Malaysia

Malaysian airlines open to cryptocurrencies: According to news from The Sun Daily, Malaysian Airlines is open to new digital initiatives to enhance customer experience and would be open to a cryptocurrency payment option.

Australia

New crypto exchange regulation enforced: Effective from 3 April, the Australian government has levied new Anti-Money-Laundering (AML) rules for cryptocurrency exchanges, according to confirmed reports from the Australian government. The move comes after a sharp rise in cryptocurrency related scams in the region. Failure to abide by these new regulations will risk appropriate punishment from the courts but a six-month grace period is also given to the exchanges to catch up to these new rules.

 

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China Scraps Blockchain Funding Center

The Chinese government has just scrapped its blockchain funding center, insisting on regulations before going forward with anything blockchain.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has called for domestic regulation as part of an effort to foster the development of the technology. The CCP’s official media made clear that the government’s stance is to integrate blockchain technology, while also warning of illicit activities that come with it.

A recent report stated the entity as saying that “Blockchain technology is still very immature. We must be cautious about speculation on this concept and separate technology-based innovations from those with a fund-raising purpose. To better promote and utilize the blockchain technology, the government should implement strengthened policies and regulations.”.

China aims to solidify plans in the future for the opening of the center; the full report gives a solid argument for explanations on blockchain technology applications in various industries and financial services.

This marks another restrictive move from China after the banning of initial coin offerings in 2017. It was, however, suggested that regulations would be a proactive step in the right direction, with China hoping to initiate frameworks that help the public and business sectors.

Meanwhile, China’s central bank has claimed that cryptocurrencies will be at the top of its agenda in 2018.

The Peoples Bank of China (PBoC) has called for a conference on the financial development of blockchain. Fan Yifei, vice governor of the PBoC, has a detrimental stance on the currency, praising its progress so far, but wanting to highlight the fact the integrity of the Chinese Yuan stays intact.

Fan also stated that the agency would reinforce its regulatory measures both internally and externally.

 

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Central Bank Of China Release ‘Blockchain Registry Open Platform’

The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) launched their first blockchain-based platform, dubbed the Blockchain Registry Open Platform (BROP). Its purpose: to cut through the extensive bureaucracy surrounding China’s banking system.

The platform was developed by the Zhongchao Blockchain Research Institute, that works as a subsidiary under the PBoC. The project was unveiled at the Global Financial Science and Technology Summit, as a platform for developing intellectual property rights through blockchain technology. It follows the steps of a number of platforms already developed for similar purposes. The service enables the creation of credible records of intellectual ownership. As well as this, the BROP can certify data and provide users with digital credentials. 

The principal goal of the platform is to simplify the process for maintaining intellectual property rights, currently a challenge for foreign and local businesses due to the extensive bureaucratic barriers in place. BROP can be used by multiple economic sectors, with intentions to employ the service to provide verifiable and supervised ownership registries and information on public services.

”Our key focus is the development of blockchain and other emerging financial technologies”

Speaking out on the project, Fan Guifu, chairman of Zhongchao Credit Card that supervises the Zhongchao Blockchain Research Institute, intimated this would not be the only blockchain development from the institute. Some outlets have reported that the institute has applied for 22 blockchain patents, signalling more projects in the future.

Zhongchao found its way to 18th pace in the 2017 Global Blockchain Enterprise Patent Rankings released by IPRdaily. Of the top 100 companies on the list, 49 were Chinese, while 23 were from the USA.

While the PBoC has proudly released their first blockchain development, the government’s attitude towards cryptocurrencies has not changed. Cryptocurrency companies operating in China face many restrictions, including the ban on initial coin offerings (ICOs) and domestic-fiat exchanges.

The development of the BROP began in 2015, with the Zhongchao Blockchain Research Institute created in 2017 to finalize the development. The platform went live on 26 March 2018.

 

 

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What The US Tariffs On China Could Mean For Cryptocurrencies

The US market suffered significant losses on Thursday after President Trump announced extensive new trade tariffs on China. As Trump stokes the possibility of a trade war between the two countries, this presents the opportunity for wide-scale adoption of cryptocurrencies as a medium of exchange.

In the realm of finance, speculation is everything and uncertainty is the adversary. The tariffs enacted by the US could cost Chinese exports over USD 50 billion per year, and it is unlikely the Chinese government will not take action in retaliation. The Dow Jones has already plummeted over 700 points since the announcement, while the impending response from China is likely to agitate international markets further. Late Thursday, China’s embassy in Washington released a statement, saying “China’s not afraid of, and will not recoil from a trade war.”

The tariffs have been designed to tackle the supposed undercutting of US labor by China. While this provides a valid resolution to the issue in theory, often tariffs unintentionally lead to suffering in other areas of the economy. US economists have reported it is the likely the American consumer that will bear the costs.

Might an unstable dollar make cryptocurrency attractive?

When the effects are felt, speculation suggests the US economy will deteriorate, resulting in the weakening of the USD. When a fiat currency experience unstable conditions, a popular option is to store wealth in alternative areas, such as cryptocurrencies. Individuals and businesses alike may turn to the use of cryptocurrencies to avoid the volatile conditions of the US market.

Considering the extensive levels of international trade that the US conducts, this could bring an entirely new market of cryptocurrency users on a global scale. It is likely that once cryptocurrencies are adopted by users, the significant benefits attached to using them will encourage them not to return to fiat currency.

Additionally, transactions made with cryptocurrencies are not subject to any tariff levies, although indeed the legality of these cryptocurrency exchanges might come into question.

There are factors that could hinder the successful widespread adoption of cryptocurrency, however. Depending on the severity of the effects of the trade war, a sustained bear market could be triggered. This could lead to a lack of liquid investment funds to inject into the cryptocurrency market, bringing it into a similar situation as the potential bear market of the US economy.

Some cryptocurrency pundits make the argument that as financial market fears increase, the price of Bitcoin will decrease and vice versa.

Whatever the results of the potential trade war, it will be interesting to keep a close watch on the reaction of the cryptocurrency market to the turbulence of such two prominent fiat currencies.

 

 

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