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Coinbase Adds Latin America and Southeast Asia to Its Expanding Client Base

Coinbase Adds Latin America and Southeast Asia to Its Expanding Client Base

US cryptocurrency exchange giant Coinbase is to add 11 new markets in Latin America and Southeast Asia as part of its current global expansion programme.

This is hot on the trail of its expansion in the UK market seeing revenue growth of 20% to USD 173 million, and the recent announcement of its new Coinbase card. In 2018, the exchange recorded USD 520 million in revenue according to Reuter’s latest figures.

The Visa card, linked with the Coinbase Card app for iOS and Android, is only available to UK account holders, although there are plans to add support for other European countries in the future. The card will allow worldwide purchases where crypto payments are available online or in store.

Latin America has been in Coinbase’s sights for some time, so the access to trading services in Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, and Chile won’t come as a huge surprise to those in the region, given the company’s desire to spread its services to all corners of the globe.

Southeast Asia has a booming cryptocurrency market with Japan and South Korea leading the way, so a move towards capturing a piece of the market in the region is a sound move with India, Hong Kong, South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines, and New Zealand customers now having access to Coinbase services.

With 53 countries now using Coinbase services including the recently added Andorra, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Lithuania, and Iceland, the San Francisco-based company has thrown down the gauntlet to other major exchanges in its bid to become the globally dominant cryptocurrency exchange.

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RBI Sandbox to Promote Fintech, Blockchain, Excludes Crypto

RBI Sandbox to Promote Fintech, Blockchain, Excludes Crypto

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has rolled out what it termed a ‘Draft Enabling Framework for Regulatory Sandbox,’ that will serve as a requirement guide for the burgeoning fintech sector.

In 2016, in response to the rapidly growing fintech space, the RBI set up a committee (Inter-Regulatory Working Group on FinTech and Digital Banking in India) tasked with the responsibility to ascertain the implications of the evolving space and advise on an appropriate regulatory framework. A ‘regulatory sandbox/innovation hub’ was one of the recommendations of the working group following their findings. The RBI has finally developed a test environment to increase efficiency, manage risks and create new opportunities for consumers with respect to fintech innovations.

According to the press release:

“The proposed financial service to be launched under the RS (regulatory sandbox) should include new or emerging technology, or use of existing technology in an innovative way and should address a problem, or bring benefits to consumers.”

While it does seem like the financial regulator thinks to promote the innovative stems of the fintech industry to include applications under blockchain and smart contracts, however, it did clearly state that cryptocurrency and initial coin offerings – both essential components of the decentralized blockchain – will be excluded from the test environment.

This would come off as bad news to crypto ventures in the country as they have been waiting desperately to resume their crypto-related activities – to include trading of cryptocurrencies to fiat counterparts – without incurring further sanctions from the watchdog.

The Indian government has been mulling over cryptocurrency regulations and sought external help to formulate a befitting legislature for the industry, and earlier in February, a report suggested stunting the growth of cryptocurrency may have negative feedback to the nation.

In the month of March, a protest was carried out by Indian crypto enthusiasts across 4 major cities expressing their dissatisfaction on the state of the industry, as crypto regulations are in their final stages. With the exclusion of cryptocurrency testing in the regulatory sandbox, it remains unseen how the crypto community will react en masse to the development.

Overall, the RBI’s sandbox development as with other jurisdictions bodes well for the fintech space as it joins the race for inclusion in the emerging market.

 

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VC Fund Says India Fintech “Insanely Addictive”

VC Fund Says India Fintech “Insanely Addictive”

The founder of Emphasis Ventures (EMVC) VC fund Melissa Frakman, has told local business media outlet YourStory of her experience with the Indian financial technology (fintech) scene, professing that the country’s sector can be “insanely addictive“.

Canadian-born Frakman insisted that India was the stage for some of the most exciting trends happening right now in the fintech sector, especially with the entry of many new players over the past few years.

Spurred by the high penetration rates of low-cost internet access, many Indians have seen their businesses and lives transformed by the development of financial tech in banking, insurance, payments and investments. The popular use of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) by the National Payments Corporation of India (NCPI) has also benefited the space, and NCPI has been mulling blockchain to improve on that. It

Frakman said:

“I saw over and over again how incredible the (Indian) market is, and I’ve always been completely captivated by how quickly the markets change here. It’s insanely addictive to build and work in India because you actually see the results and progress that’s happening.”

The investor stressed that while EMVC was very much focused on India, their strategy was that of a global- and US-based fund.

In her early time, she was the Director of the US-India Business Council, advising Fortune 500 companies on market strategy in India.

 

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India Retail Payments Corp Considers Blockchain

India Retail Payments Corp Considers Blockchain

The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has announced that it is considering to use highly scalable blockchain solutions to improve digital payments in the country with an eventual aim to be the “best payment network globally”.

Business Today India reported that the body had floated an Express of Interest that would enable bidders to propose solutions for a DLT application in payments. It notified:

“NPCI intends to develop a resilient, real time and highly scalable blockchain solution. It is proposed to develop this solution using an open source technology/ framework/solution.”

Apparently, bids have already been invited for the selection of Liaisoning Consultant (LC) to acquire various End-to-End Statutory permissions for Construction of Captive Data Center (CDC) in Chennai and Hyderabad.

NPCI provides services like check clearance and facilitates digital payments, as well as an instant payment system called Unified Payments Interface (UPI). UPI is becoming popular in India, recording INR 1.33 billion (USD 19.2 million) in March 2019.

The NPCI is the umbrella organization for all retail payments in the country. It receives advice from and is supported by India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), and the Indian Banks Association (IBA). Today, 56 banks in India are shareholders in NPCI.

While blockchain technology itself appears to be on the radar, the status of cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin in India remains a question mark, with the country seeking external advice on crypto regulation as ongoing legal cases between banks and crypto-related businesses catch public attention.

 

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Local Indian Administrators Bid to Clean Up Bangalore Using Blockchain

Local Indian Administrators Bid to Clean Up Bangalore Using Blockchain

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) the local administrative body in the Indian city of Bangalore is to pilot a blockchain solution to combat garbage problems in the city.

Bangalore, officially known as Bengaluru, is the capital city of the Indian state of Karnataka. It has a population of over ten million, making it a megacity and the third most populous city and fifth most populous urban agglomeration in India.

India’s Silicon Valley continues to pay a huge price for its multinational IT success, becoming a city overflowing with uncollected waste after years of unchecked growth. The BBMP has decided it is finally time to take action, by employing the technology that Bengaluru has become globally renown for in order to address the worsening rubbish accumulation.

The pilot will be funded by non-profit Citizen Involved & Technology Assisted Governance (CITAG) with the assistance of funding from a Harvard University fellowship. BBMP Special Commissioner Randeep D spoke of the project, explaining:

“Blockchain technology will make it tamper-proof. So all players on the platform can see actions that have been taken regarding a complaint. There is a lot of data integrity and transparency involved in having such a blockchain-based helpline. Different stages of the redressal will be visible to everybody.”

GR Chandran, the co-founder of CITAG, said the pilot is expected to be underway by June of this year and expects the complaints procedure will now indicate who is handling the issue concerning garbage removal along with a resolution date, which if not met, will be raised further with the BBMP. A ratings/review system will be put in place so that requests for collection can be reviewed by complainants.

 

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India Crypto Enthusiasts Protest as Supreme Court Delays Bank Case

Tron Founder Hints at Ethereum Collaboration Copy

In the month of March, the streets of Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Bangalore vibrated as thousands of cryptocurrency and blockchain enthusiasts expressed their distaste of the industry’s situation in the locale.

According to reports, Blockchained India co-founder and observer of the protest Akshay Aggarwal, opined that “the street demonstrations are occurring mainly because the whole crypto space represents a world different than we currently live in — a more efficient one, a more evolved one”, which apparently, as with other enthusiasts in other nations are striving for inclusion in the emerging economy. During the protest, the crowds that gathered in Delhi didn’t mind challenging the authority, and those in Mumbai were more about showing how valuable the blockchain is since they took out time for the protest. Meanwhile, in Hyderabad, citizens were more open to discussions about the pros and cons of the emerging industry.

We ain’t stopping! It’s working and we are all set to get more crypto folks involved. Let’s together contribute to the cause. #IndiaForOrAgainstCrypto #IndiaDappFest #IDF @NischalShetty @Shaanush @mohitmamoria @DesiCryptoHodlr @ThatNaimish https://t.co/6pE4CHDhmT

— Akshay Aggarwal (@howdy_akshay) March 26, 2019

Though the industry is completely different from the current economic standards and status quo, it is clear that the eventual impact of widespread adoption is currently unknown. Aggarwal observed:

“None of us is able to figure out if it would directly do more positive impact than the negative… We do not understand it completely, especially its multifold effects, and we always fear what we don’t understand.”

It’s about a year since the conflict of interest between the emerging crypto industry and the central bank of India – the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), and cryptocurrency enthusiasts are becoming wary of the undue delay in the court’s ruling on the decision of the RBI’s effective ban of custodial services to crypto related ventures. It appears the RBI may be using delay tactics to further their goal of stalling the growth of the industry when the Counsel sought a regular day for the hearing.

However, despite the current outcome, cryptocurrency enthusiasts remain optimistic as key players striving for regulation and adoption had provided somewhat positive sentiments. One of which is a general consensus among members of the inter-ministerial committee that cryptocurrency cannot be dismissed as completely illegal. More so, in late February, the Supreme Court had issued a 4-week deadline to the Union of India to come up with a regulatory framework.

Despite several ongoing crypto-related discussions in India, there appears to be no apparent headway for the industry at the moment, with the Court’s postponement only agitating the industry more. Meanwhile, the possibility of the destabilization of the rupee and the financial system became a major concern should cryptocurrency be legalized. However, the government has considered seeking external legal assistance to put the dilemma to rest.

 

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India Supreme Court Postpones Central Bank Crypto Showdown

India Supreme Court Postpones Central Bank Crypto Showdown

Nine months after cryptocurrency exchanges in India have taken the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to courts, decisive action has yet to be taken. And now, the Supreme Court of India has moved the hearing to July. It is the sixth time the highest court has adjourned Crypto vs RBI.

According to a report from CCN, RBI counsel had sought a “regular day” hearing which the court typically reserves for cases whose final arguments have already been submitted. It was granted by the court, and this is seen as a strong indication that this July date will now result in an outcome.

The March date was apparently a “miscellaneous day” hearing, bunching together all manner of court cases, causing court delays in hearings and ultimately, only allowing for brief court discussion of several minutes in the congestion. This prevents plaintiffs and respondents from developing solid arguments.

As it turned out, not the ideal scenario for a complex discussion on regulatory frameworks for cryptocurrency businesses.

The added months of delay will be seen as a temporary blow to the Indian crypto commerce sector, although it will be hoped that a final answer will be delivered, determining if RBI’s initial banking ban for crypto exchanges was in fact constitutionally valid.

In January, the ban seemed to have carried on towards individuals, with an Indian crypto influencer’s account frozen after a crypto-related transaction.

 

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Hiring Report Suggests High Interest in Blockchain Industry

Hiring Report Suggests High Interest in Blockchain Industry

The hype surrounding blockchain industry, as well as the cryptocurrency sector, may have waned a little, but a report published by TheNextWeb suggests hiring expertise in the sector still grows, courtesy of a few ‘old-school’ tech companies.

It’s a given that prominent fintech startups had it rough in the past year, having to lay off some of their staff. Still, blockchain-related job vacancies seem to pop up every now and then, with a little spot available for cryptocurrency industry. More so, the technology appears to be fascinating enough to attract veterans in the tech space. IBM tops the chart in this regard.

IBM frequented the news with developments from its enterprise-grade blockchain project, but it’s not the only one on a blockchain hiring spree. Other legacy companies, Ernst & Young (EY), Oracle, Accenture, Deloitte, PwC, and Facebook make the list of employers looking into blockchain expertise.

Vacancies include areas in tech development and marketing, with blockchain engineer, senior software engineer, and blockchain development having more prominence. An earlier report concluded that demand in blockchain engineering expertise had increased by as much as 517 percent year-over-year.

Current estimates place the job offers at around 5,711 globally. According to information obtained from Glassdoor, the US, UK, and India seem to be largely interested in blockchain expertise and have quite a sizeable share in blockchain-related job adverts. Although China has also been know as an active blockchain hub, still more prospects are envisioned for 2023 for the nation to lead the industry.

Sentiments surrounding blockchain development centers around its premature state and while many may be optimistic about the industry, it may still be early for large scale implementation of enterprise-grade blockchain solutions. However, it is possible that most legacy players are finding their way into the ecosystem to hold a stake in the future of the emerging markets of decentralized technology.

 

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New Startup Pushes Personal Finance Into the Hands of Indian Women

New Startup Pushes Personal Finance Into the Hands of Indian Women

Basis, a Bengaluru-based fintech startup, is hoping to change the look of personal finance for Indian women.

In the USA and other developed countries, up to 50% of adults make investments, and half of these are women. In India, this is not the case, with a mere 3% of Indians investing in the stock market, with figures showing that almost none of these are women. A graduate from the Wharton School in the US has decided to do something about the sorry statistics.

Hena Mehta worked on Wall Street before moving back to India to work at enterprise universal payments solutions Ezetap in Bengaluru (Bangalore), India’s third most populated city and hi-tech hub. Her new project is Basis, an online women-focused personal finance startup. Mehta explained:

“The idea was born out of my own pain point: I realized I wasn’t owning my personal finance and investing decisions, even though I have a prestigious MBA and worked in financial services.”

Her new company has recently benefited from an undisclosed amount of seed funding from India/US-based investors Nitin Saigal, Daniel Jacobs and Dahm Choi, having been successful in receiving a SEBI Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) license recently on 25 February.

Mehta wants to transform financial education and financial decision-making for Indian women in the country empowering them to take more control of their financial futures. She commented:

“In the next few years, we expect to be a full-service personal finance platform serving the financial needs of first-time investors, particularly the Indian women.”

Last year, it was reported that Indian women were investing more in cryptocurrency than men.

 

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Bahrain Pressure Could Legalize Crypto Market in India

In 2018, the Reserve Bank of India barred local banks from dealing with crypto businesses such as Bitcoin exchanges. Consequently, Bitcoin dealers and investors in India lost access to fiat-enabled exchanges and have been using peer-to-peer transfers to convert cryptocurrencies, which can be unsafe and impractical.

However, the pressure from other market competitors could make the government of India rethink its strategy. The prime example of that being Bahrain, who is trying to lure disgruntled Indian crypto companies towards its crypto friendly commercial landscape, possibly spiriting away investment worth billions of dollars out of India.

On 3 March, The Economic Times reported about the government of Bahrain and its invitation to Indian cryptocurrency companies to relocate to a country which has been moving swiftly to establish itself as a fintech hub. This includes initiatives like the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) offering crypto businesses a wider range of resources such as a practical regulatory framework as well as proper banking solutions to support growth and innovation.

Bahrain completed its regulatory draft specifically for cryptocurrencies two months ago and has now finally finished the legislation. Also, the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) has also created the right ecosystem to harbor crypto growth and innovation. CBB has ratified new regulations supporting open banking, simplified crypto asset trade regulation, drafted a regulation on robo advisory, and streamlined remittance collection to enhance the expansion of its financial service sector, which constitutes a large portion of the country’s GDP.

This aggressive move by Bahrain will undoubtedly make India revisit its crypto policy of imposing a blanket ban on all cryptocurrency transactions. This is a similar phenomenon that led to a previously crypto skeptic country, South Korea, loosening its crypto policies after investors were threatened by markets in Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

 

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