Category Archives: Denmark

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Belarus Turns up the Heat on Crypto as Business on Fire in Minsk

Belarus is alive and well in the world of cryptocurrency as high tech and crypto companies choose the former Soviet Republic as the new place to do business in the region.

The Belarus Hi-Tech park in Minsk is fast becoming a fintech center with 388 companies now registered as conducting business there. Much of the new interest in fintech in the country has been put down to Belarus President Lukashenko’s Decree №8 signed in December of 2017 called “On the Development of the Digital Economy” which has attracted new business to Belarus firmly set as its main aim.

Now that Belarus has legalized cryptocurrency trading for residents, many related businesses have been attracted to the park despite the majority of companies working in the IT and software sectors. Blockchain company Aetsoft, which provided services to ICOs and exchanges since 2014, is one of such businesses dealing with clients in the US, Germany, and Denmark. Another company, Biggico, whose international team has built an advertising platform for crypto projects, was established by Belarusian and Latvian entrepreneurs.

Other companies now operating out of Belarus, currently developing cloud-based crypto mining facilities include Pm Pool and Smartpool. Another company, Aiscom offers cryptocurrency payment solutions to exchanges, wallet providers and ICO projects.

The country has no intention of being left behind in the region. As reported by local news outlet Korea JoongAng Daily, the deputy foreign minister and ambassador of Belarus Andrei Dapkiunas told reporters that the European nation is open to investment into Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies; this includes blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Belarus recently expressed interest in strengthening economic and business ties during a recent working visit to Seoul, particularity in the fields of fintech and blockchain technology. Diplomats from Belarus are keen to extend the cooperation between the two counties to promote new projects in the country.

Although the Hi-Tech park currently lacks cryptocurrency exchanges, what has been called “the first Belarusian cryptocurrency exchange” launched by crypto platform Crexby, is ironically based in New York City rather than its natural home of Minsk. The platform was started by Belarusian immigrants living in the US.

The main reason behind a lack of exchanges operating out of Belarus has been put down to the government’s lukewarm attitude toward digital currency, combined with local financial institutions’ reluctance to support cryptocurrency transactions and work with exchanges. More government clarity regarding cryptocurrency has been called for by both cryptocurrency exchanges and companies selling related products.


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Copenhagen Uni Blockchain School Up and Running with Latest Training

A blockchain school in Copenhagen is off and running again for the third consecutive year, offering the latest innovative training for those entering the industry.

The school was initially created through a collaboration between the University of Copenhagen, IT University of Copenhagen, and Copenhagen Business School. It promotes blockchain as “a revolutionary technology that has the potential to disrupt multiple industries” and describes its primary focus as training its students in the latest developments in the industry, claiming:

“The design and implementation of blockchain-based systems require interdisciplinary knowledge as well as mindful consideration of broader economic and societal issues.”

The week-long annual program in Denmarks’s capital was described by Dr Omri Ross, CEO of Firmo and assistant professor for the University of Copenhagen’s computer science department:

“Blockchain is an incredible technology because it encompasses a wide array of disciplines from cryptography to mathematics, computer science, law, business, and economics. Students in the program have the chance to apply deep technical knowledge to real cases that we develop with existing industry players and cutting-edge crypto companies.”

The program targets primarily PhD students, with the course also including masters students and industry professionals. Dr Ross suggested that it was currently important to spread information about blockchain tech over a broad audience, and not simply limit this to academics, professionals or developers. He saw blockchain as having a more widespread significance across a range of sectors in the future as it becomes more mainstream.

Partnerships with the university this year reflect the cross-sector nature of the programme including a contribution from the World Wildlife Foundation. All the latest industry developments are covered by the course, again reflecting the holistic nature of blockchain. Dr Ross explained:

“While we do work on Ethereum-based Dapp development we are also collaborating with QTUM’s protocol (they are the second biggest blockchain in China) as well as the protocols of Ontology, Hyperledger, and Firmo.”


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Danish Hockey Stadium Renamed “Bitcoin Arena” by Billionaire Sponsor

The Rungsted Seier Capital ice rink in Denmark has been officially renamed the Bitcoin Arena in a move by co-owner Lars Seier Christensen and billionaire sponsor Niklas Nikolajsen.

“We have had a good year, and you would be of no worth if you cannot look beyond your nose tip and see how to contribute a little,” said Bitcoin investor Niklas Nikolajsen, translated from Danish.

The club, Rungsted Seier Capital, in Horsholm, 25 kilometers north of Copenhagen, were playing their home games at the Saxo Bank Arena last year prior to the new changes which were introduced at the end of 2017.

The club’s star player, Nikolaj Rosenthal, is now paid his salary in Bitcoin; as of December 2017, he became the world’s first sports personality to be paid in digital currency. The club made the announcement at the end of last year:

“Top Rungsted player Nikolaj Rosenthal will pioneer the switch from traditional salary payments in Danish Kroner to become the first professional sports athlete to be paid fully and exclusively in Bitcoin, paving the way for others in- and outside of the world of professional sports to do the same.”

A collaboration with Bitcoin Suisse AG, a Swiss-based financial service provider specializing in crypto assets, extends to other initiatives with Rungsted Seier Capital, with five different competitions launched enabling fans to win prizes of 0.1 BTC. The stadium will now display a new center logo, “a massive 9-meter diameter ice-covered gold and silver Bitcoin”, Bitcoin Suisse confirmed.

Payment terminals in the stadium now enable payment in Bitcoin and other virtual currencies, and the season’s ice hockey pucks have been redesigned as Bitcoins.

Denmark has long been thought of as Bitcoin-friendly. It is easy to buy and sell Bitcoin in Denmark thanks to the numerous Bitcoin exchanges that operate freely in the country. Danish government legislators have indicated that their goal is to make all retail transactions digital and remove paper money by 2030.


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Danske Bank Advises Investors to Refrain From Crypto

Danske Bank has released a statement on their website setting out its policy of “a negative position towards cryptocurrencies”. It is advising its customers to refrain from such investments.

The global Nordic bank, which serves over five million customers in northern Europe, is the biggest bank in Denmark. It made headlines earlier this week by banning cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin across all its platforms. The bank is currently phasing out all existing financial instruments, including derivatives, which previously gave clients access to cryptocurrency.

The ban is not absolute, however. Customers are still permitted to deposit funds from cryptocurrency, provided they comply with anti-money laundering regulations. Credit card holders can also continue trading cryptocurrency.

Lack of traditional financial features

In its statement, Danske Bank lists out several reasons for the policy, noting that cryptocurrencies are not backed by any central bank. This means that investors and consumers do not benefit from the protection typically offered by traditional investments.

The bank also expressed concern with the extreme volatility of cryptocurrency and their “non-transparent” price formation. It believes this limits the insight to market development and pricing factors.

Danske Bank criticized the “the lack of transparency and regulatory control have made cryptocurrencies a target for criminal purposes”, referring to past occasions of cryptocurrency involvement in facilitating “criminal transactions like money laundering or extortion”.

Hardline Nordic stance

The statement reflects the current hostility of several prominent Nordic and Scandinavian banks towards cryptocurrency. Nordea Bank banned employees from trading in Bitcoin assets last month, prompting the European Banking Federation – which has not clarified its policy on the issue – to say that “This could very well be a first” time it had heard of a bank banning Bitcoin investments.

Banks operating in northern Europe currently view external and decentralized fintech innovations as a threat to their current model of financial services. A consortium of Nordic banks, including Danske Bank, is currently exploring the idea of a “pan-Nordic” payment system that would create a global territory for domestic and international payments in multiple currencies.


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