Category Archives: Hong Kong

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China Aerospace Industry Turns to Blockchain for Invoicing Issues

The Chinese State Aerospace Industry is looking to utilizing blockchain technology to update some of its electronic invoicing.

According to a government announcement posted by State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation Ltd will be fulfilling state plans for using blockchain for invoicing for tax purposes.

The government website article reportedly suggested that 1.31 billion electronic invoices were circulating its system in 2017 and forecast that this would rise to 54.55 billion by 2020. The article claims that the government has issued some 2.5 billion such invoices to date which cover such services as delivery, filing, inspection and tax reimbursement.

With a system which appears to be severely overburdened, it appears to be also suffering from other issues such as over-reporting along with false reports and traceability problems. China Aerospace’s blockchain system for electronic invoices is designed to overcome some of these administrative hurdles and what it has called “pain points” and streamline tax data sharing making it more efficient and cost-effective.

In May, the State Administration of Taxation in China’s fourth-largest city Shenzhen teamed up with tech giant Tencent to deal with a similar issue relating to tax loopholes and accountability. That blockchain system targets efficient circulation and issuance of tax invoices and protects the authenticity of legal documents.

In other news from China, Ripple has suggested that it is targeting the country with a DLT solution to speed up cross-border payments. Jeremy Light, vice president of European Union strategic accounts at Ripple confirmed:

“China is definitely of interest, it is definitely a target… China is definitely a country and region of interest.”

Ripple’s interest in the region is no secret after it struck a deal earlier this year with Hong Kong-based financial services firm LianLian International targeting cross-border transactions.

 

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First Crypto Company Listed on the London Stock Exchange is Now Active

Crypto mining firm, UK-based Argo Mining — first cryptocurrency company to be listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) is now active.

Argo, which provides “accessible” crypto mining via a subscription service has raised £25 million (about $32.5 million) through an Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the LSE, exceeding its fundraising target by £5 million (about $6.5 million).

Company documents have stated that the newcomer began its life on the LSE with roughly 156 million shares priced at 16p, bringing Argo’s evaluation to £47 million pounds (about $61.2 million). Its website offers three packages covering three levels of mining power provisions, which has all been sold out. The company supports BTG, ETH, ZEC, and ETC.

London-headquartered firm Argo works on a subscription-based model, with its cryptocurrency mining operations based in Quebec, Canada, active since last year. This has become a popular location for mining farms due to optimal climate and energy cost conditions. Argo has plans to expand operations to Iceland and China, both of which benefit from cheap electricity costs and a cold climate.

Executive Chairman Jonathan Bixby stated that:

“Argo’s admission to the London main market is a major step in the company’s development and will put us in a strong position to execute our long-term growth strategy” adding, “We are delighted with the strong response from investors which will enable us to grow our business in multiple jurisdictions.”

Bixby suggests that he would like to see the company become the “the Amazon Web Services of crypto.” Argo had released its crypto mining subscription service in June after gaining the necessary approval to list on the stock exchange in May.

The Chairman referred to the fact that industrial-scale elites have 90% of the crypto mining sector covered due to its technical requirements, adding “It is incredibly expensive to buy, up front, the hardware you need at $5,000 a machine.”

Bitcoin News reported yesterday that Canaan Creative applied for an IPO earlier this year in Hong Kong with the hope of raining in a significant starter fund. At present, Canaan needs to keep one eye on its competitor Bitmain which at present has a huge 70% of the global Bitcoin mining device market.

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Canaan Crypto Mining TV Launched to Catch Bitmain’s Market

The so-called world’s first ever crypto mining TV has just been born, courtesy of the one of the largest makers of Bitcoin mining equipment, Canaan Creative.

South China Morning Post has reported the launch, which the company has stated is a step towards creating a new generation of devices which are linked to blockchain and IoT.

The device is marketed as a smart TV with a difference, enabling the user to tap into a processing output of 2.8 trillion hashes per second. Given that a made-for-purpose rig manufactured by the company can process 11 trillion hashes per second, this is still pretty significant for a TV.

The device is marketed as “AvalonMiner Inside”, although how the company connects their new device to the mystical isle associated with Glastonbury is anyone’s guess. Miners though, if not impressed by the name, will certainly have much to marvel at, according to Canaan. Such features as voice control, real-time Bitcoin mining profitability display and a digital tether to Canaan’s platform allowing users to pay for extras using mined coins.

The project has received some scorn, notably from Bitcoin analyst Xiao Lei who said: “It looks more like hype. It will be more meaningful if these companies are able to embed the mining function into existing major TV brands.”

There is absolutely nothing to say that this may be the way the future takes media hardware.

Canaan applied for an Initial Public Offering (IPO) earlier this year in Hong Kong with the hope of raining in a significant starter fund. At present, Canaan needs to keep one eye on its competitor Bitmain which at present has a huge 70% of the global Bitcoin mining device market. When the company applied for the IPO it stated:

“If we cannot maintain the scale and profitability of our single line of system products and, at the same time, offer new products, our ability to continue to grow will suffer.”

To this end, the company has expressed that it intends to follow up AvalonMiner Inside with further innovations, and break away from simply manufacturing mining chips.

 

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7 Banks to Form Trade Finance Blockchain Platform in Hong Kong

Seven banks including Hong Kong’s banking regulator are to launch a trade finance platform this September using blockchain.

The platform is reported to be one of the largest government-led cross-bank cooperation globally. It will include UK banking giant HSBC and Standard Chartered PLC. HSBC is the seventh largest bank globally by assets and the largest in Europe; Standard Chartered is a London-based bank with businesses across Asia.

Other banks involved are said to be one of Australia’s big four, ANZ, and four Asian banks, BOC Hong Kong Holdings, Hang Seng Bank, Bank of East Asia Ltd and Singapore’s DBS Holdings Ltd.

The financial sector has been increasingly under the microscope both by private companies and government bodies, who are beginning to regard blockchain technology as a way of modernizing record keeping and speeding up payments, in what is often described as an overly paper-driven industry, particularly given the technologies available in 2018.

The cross-bank project has been proposed to alleviate exactly some of these institutional operating issues, as Howard Lee deputy chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) explained. The main focus will be the digitalization of documentation and automating processes. Lee added that the group will want to “link up with other trade platforms in other jurisdictions to further facilitate cross-border trades”.

It appears that banks, at one time shunning blockchain due to in part to its connection with Bitcoin and Ethereum, are coming around to seeing the advantages of integrating the technology into upgrading financial systems.

The multi-bank platform will not be the first official blockchain encounter for HSBC. Along with Dutch giant ING, the two banks are reported to have made the world’s first trade finance transaction using blockchain earlier in May.

In China, The Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) published a research paper on Tuesday, which analyzed the use of DLT in various stages of a security transaction. The SSE is one of the two stock exchanges operating independently in the People’s Republic of China and is the world’s third-largest stock market by market capitalization.

 

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New Point-of-Sale Crypto Device Could Become Future of Retailing

Pundi X, a blockchain-based Point-of-Sale (POS) provider, has announced a partnership with Hong Kong group FAMA to improve retailing using cryptocurrency, writes Global Finance and Banking Review (GFBR).

The outcome of the partnership with FAMA, the organic food restaurant chain, will be a POS smart device enabling consumers to access easy purchasing using digital currency via cryptocurrency-to-fiat or crypto-to-crypto transactions.

Such solutions for mainstream consumers will simplify cryptocurrency transactions, enabling retailer outlets to install their POS devices for speedy acquisition or spending of major cryptocurrencies and could become the future for both retailers and consumers.

The Pundi X device will allow consumers access to BTC, ETH, NPXS, and other cryptocurrency using fiat money. According to GFBR, purchased cryptocurrency can be stored in the physical card wallet, or used to make cashless payments to top up phones, pay utility bills or buy goods, subject to local regulations in each market.

A promotion is currently underway in Hong Kong at four FAMA restaurants around the city: Locofama, Sohofama, SUPAFOOD and the Hive Café. Those trialing PundiX pass cards pre-charged with a pre-loaded giveaway will be able to use cryptocurrency to purchase coffee, snacks, beer or a full meal free of charge up to the value of each card using the preinstalled devices at one of the four restaurants.

Larry Tang, founder of the FAMA Group sees the POS system as a great boon for the company and the future of simple payments for services. He explained:

“Our restaurants celebrate traditional methods in our cuisine, but we also see ourselves as innovators and are pleased to be on the frontline in enabling customers to settle their bill with Bitcoin or Ether-based cryptocurrency by using a secure payment option such as the Pundi X POS.”

Pundi X co-founder and CEO Zac Cheah was equally optimistic amount the merger:

“This is the first of many partnerships that we will be setting up across Asia to encourage more widespread use of cryptocurrency in the retail economy over the longer term.”

Cheah explained that East Asian adoption of cryptocurrency was the highest in the world, but despite this, there were limited channels for spending digital currency. This was something that such devices would change, making retailing using cryptocurrency far more accessible to both seller and purchaser.

 

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Local Experts Claim China Has Lost 90% Control over Bitcoin Market

According to the UK’s Daily Express, the Chinese government has seen its control on the global cryptocurrency market drop from 90% to 1% since 2017.

However, it appears that the original claim by local experts that China had control of 90% of the Bitcoin market has been refuted. Reports in 2017 revealed that the trading volumes of Chinese exchanges before the government ban was put in place were highly exaggerated and were more likely to have represented closer to between 20% and 30% of global Bitcoin markets. Added to this, it has been suggested that cryptocurrency exchanges figures were also inflated by bot trading in early 2017.

Regardless of the accuracy of expert figures, many would nonetheless argue that a drop in the Chinese share of the global crypto market is hardly surprising considering the government imposition of a trading ban, and the request to local banks to cease trading with crypto exchanges in early 2018.

The Chinese Bitcoin market in 2018 has largely moved to Hong Kong, swelling the number of exchanges there and expanding its cryptocurrency market. Such has been the expansion of that market this year there were rumors that Hong Kong might even consider its own CBDC, although it was considering the plan even before the exchange ban on the Chinese mainland came into action.

The current HK government stance is that virtual currencies’ largely unregulated position makes them a risk, pointing out that unlike institutions offering fiat currencies, cryptocurrencies have no specific regulation.

Unlike China, rather than ban cryptocurrencies, the Hong Kong government has chosen the educative path with the Financial Service Treasury Bureau (FSTB) and the Investor Education Center (IEC), all subsidiaries of the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), teaming up to launch a campaign which began earlier this year, including a TV campaign, warning Hong Kong citizens to stay away from cryptocurrency.

As Bitcoin News reported recently blockchain is very much the new darling of the Chinese authorities until any changes in crypto trading regulations come into place.

Given these current conditions, China is still a major Bitcoin player with 50% to 70% of global mining taking place in the country, although this number is not comparable with its far more significant figures before the ban was actually put in place. However, mining operations are increasingly moving overseas due to the ban.

 

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Bitcoin Still Best Bet, Says Wall St Crypto King

Bart Smith, Wall Street’s very own ‘Crypto King’, has said in an interview on CNBC’s Fast Money that Bitcoin is still the best option for crypto traders.

Smith, who launched a crypto desk which buys and sells millions of dollars in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, maintains this is primarily because people are out there using it. Therefore, its functionality makes it stand out from the range of available cryptocurrencies available today.

The head of the digital asset group at Susquehanna International Group remains upbeat on Bitcoin despite the falls of the last day. The future he says, is positive, recently suggesting that institutional investors will re-stimulate the cryptocurrency market once more regulatory clarity is provided. He commented:

“If you want to own the asset that you can actually use today and that people are functionally using, it’s Bitcoin… The use case for Bitcoin is valid today, which is the currency of the internet.”

He pointed out that cross-border exchanges using Bitcoin is a major use of the digital currency today. This makes it a significant usable medium of exchange.

Only recently, Alibaba Group’s Ant Financial reported that it intended to use blockchain technology to lower the cost of overseas payment after failing a bid to buy over MoneyGram. The Chinese multinational e-commerce conglomerate says the move will benefit the Filipino expatriate population of Hong Kong. They systematically send funds estimated to be HKD 4.4 billion (USD 561 million) annually back to families in the Philippines.

Talking of traditional cross-border payments, Smith argued:

“They use Western Union, traditional banks; It is slow and it is expensive… and there are people that can stop you from sending that money, whether that’s good or bad. With Bitcoin, I can send money. It’s fast. It’s cheap. And frankly, no one can stop me.”

As for other coins, Smith suggested that this may be the future but it isn’t now. He argues that new tokens will face difficulties establishing new “technological advancements”. Hence, despite the initial excitement, it will be Bitcoin that will be continued to be used for practical purposes.

 

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Former Oxford Grad becomes UK’s First Bitcoin Billionaire at $3.6 Billion

An Oxford graduate living in Hong Kong has been identified as Britain’s youngest Bitcoin billionaire at the age of only 34, according to the Mail Online.

Ex-student Ben Delo founded crypto company BitMex, a trading platform created by a selection of finance, trading, and web-development experts, in 2014 and has subsequently amassed a fortune of $3.6 billion along with his co-founders.

Delo, who studied maths and computer science at Worcester College, Oxford and graduated in 2005 with a first-class degree, said that he worked 18 hour days to build up his platform renting out spare bedrooms on Airbnb and creating a space in his living room to make extra money.

After a spell in the City of London, he moved to Hong Kong to take a position with JP Morgan prior, to starting up his platform with Samuel Reed, a computer programmer.

Like something from a Howard Hughes biography, Delo certainly hasn’t let things go to his head though, reportedly living a frugal life in Hong Kong with his wife Pan Pan Wong, to the extent that he and his wife use food vouchers to buy food at McDonald’s. His aim is to be a Bill Gates style philanthropist donating most of his wealth to worthy causes.

There are other young entrepreneurs who are rapidly following in Delo’s footsteps who may not be a billionaire just yet but are well on the way.

At only 23 Charlie Shrem owns Evr, one of Manhattans most famous gastropubs, renowned for being one of the first establishments to accept Bitcoin for food and drink in New York. He is also a BitAngel, an investment group created to invest in Bitcoin startups.  Shrem made his initial fortune buying thousands of bitcoins at $20 each in 2011 and is thought to be worth $450 million.

At the young age of 24 Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum has a net worth conservatively estimated to be around $450 million, although, in a recent interview with Forbes, Buterin stated that he now owned less than 0.4% of the company.

At the top of the Bitcoin Billionaires club would be the enigmatic creator and developer of Bitcoin who reportedly owns an estimated 1.1 million bitcoins.

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Swiss Crypto Haven Zug to Pilot Blockchain Voting

Switzerland’s progressive blockchain center in Zug is going to conduct the first blockchain-based test vote later this month, reports Coinspeaker.

In 2016, Zug was the first city in the world to accept Bitcoin (BTC) as payment for certain municipality services, and also established ‘Crypto Valley’, a not-for-profit association supporting the development of blockchain and cryptography-related technologies and businesses.

One reason for Switzerland’s success as a center for blockchain and fintech, according to Swiss law firm MME, is the country’s openness to new business concepts and innovation. Marin Eckert MME partner said, “Swiss regulators are among the few that really have a deep understanding of the technology and how it works.”

Bitfinex, the fifth-largest cryptocurrency exchange by 24-hour trading volume, planned to leave its current base in Hong Kong and relocate its resources to Switzerland in March of this year.

The trial blockchain-powered vote will utilize Zug’s eID system voting on minor issues and the future of the ID system itself. Some of the municipal services that the public will be asked to vote on include annual fireworks displays, digital ID library lending, digital entry ID parking fees and electronic tax returns.

Owners must be in possession of a digital ID in order to place their yes/no votes which will be held on 25 June. The eID system was established in November 2017, but at this stage only includes 200 users who registered in a pilot for payment of municipal services last year.  Registered voters can get their voices heard by downloading the uPort app to smartphones and then submitting their vote electronically.

Zug is not alone in Switzerland in term of its blockchain- and cryptocurrency-friendly projects, and utility payment facilities, as it has a rival in the southern Swiss-Italian border town of Chiasso, which announced earlier this year that it planned to take Bitcoin to settle up to CHF 250 (Swiss francs equivalent to USD 265) of tax bills starting from January 2018.

 

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Blockchain Is Becoming China’s Darling, but Crypto Suffers From Beijing’s Distrust

Last week’s comments by China’s president Xi Jinping that the “blockchain was 10 times more valuable than the internet” clearly highlights the direction that the Chinese government is taking regarding the cryptocurrency space, according to Cointelegraph

Adding to those comments, the president referred to blockchain as “a part of the technological revolution”. If this “revolution” is already underway, where exactly does that leave bitcoin, following cryptocurrency’s trading ban in the country enforced earlier this year? Under the ban, Chinese residents can hold cryptocurrencies, but can’t currently trade them.

Add to that the prohibitive attack on China’s mining industry by regulatory bodies and things don’t look too bright for Bitcoin when juxtaposed to China’s new enthusiasm for blockchain.

Given these current conditions, China is still a major Bitcoin player with 50 to 70 percent of global mining taking place in the country, although this number is not comparable with its far more significant figures before the ban was actually put in place. Many miners have relocated under China’s crypto skeptical regime and the bans have made their mark on global markets when Bitcoin dropped to its lowest level in more than a month, with Ethereum (ETH) declining 19% and Ripple (XRP) collapsing 29%.

In 2013, banks and financial organizations were prohibited to carry out any crypto-related operations, and all companies offering any services involving Bitcoin were obliged to register with the relevant authorities and to follow know-your-customer (KYC) procedures to prevent money laundering and tax evasion, as Cointelegraph points out.

The situation has deteriorated even further now that ICO’s have been clamped, and exchanges shut down. With 15  closing, some moving to Hong Kong or staying on and becoming fiat free, to avoid the governments no trade for fiat regulations. Despite this and a further increase in regulation, China still boasts the top 20 cryptocurrencies in the global market in terms of valuation.

No such problems for blockchain, as exemplified by Xi Jinping latest stance, and his proclamation that the internet pales into insignificance alongside the new technology:

“The new generation of information technology represented by artificial intelligence, quantum information, mobile communication, internet of things, and blockchain is accelerating breakthroughs in its range of applications.”

Hangzhou is fast becoming blockchain’s Chinese Mecca, the city where Alibaba was founded, with its new Blockchain Industrial Park and $1.6 bln innovation fund. Also, Hangzhou will gain from the construction of a research institute established to provide academic support for the development of blockchain tech in the city.

Recently Blockchain was heralded for its internet-crushing-value on a China Central Television (CCTV) broadcast by the state-backed TV channel tagging it as being “the machine that generates trust” whilst in the same program making further attacks on cryptocurrency.

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