Category Archives: japan

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Toyota Adds Transparency to Ad Buying Using DLT in $15 Billion US Market

Japanese car manufacturing giant Toyota has partnered with a blockchain advertising analytics firm in order to cut down on fraud when buying digital ads.

The company, Lucidity offers Toyota an enhanced solution that helps it to control its advertising campaigns, cut back on wasted spending and offer more transparency in a US market currently estimated to be worth $15 billion in 2018.

Since the partnership, Toyota reports that the company website is now able to flag sites and apps with a high level of impression and click discrepancy, identifying the possibility of fraud or bot infiltration. This was an area which was previously lacking in Toyota’s tracking system, according to Nancy Inouye, Media Director at Toyota Motor North America. She commented that the company, “wanted to go deeper into the programmatic space in particular because it is an area [where] quite frankly, we don’t have transparency and visibility:”

“We are in discussions to take it to the next step and [test] further with additional campaigns for a longer period of time. We feel that if we go longer we would see stronger results,” she added.

Many of the media industry’s transparency problems are beginning to be addressed utilizing DLT solutions; in particular, those relating to audits and transactions. Activities such as fake traffic counts, bot clicks, and domain spoofing are increasingly being tackled by new projects designed to combat fraudulent media and advertising activity. Tom Scott, Media Director at communications network Saatchi & Saatchi, suggested that new systems such as Lucidity’s can still improve on companies’ built-in anti-fraud software using blockchain, suggesting:

“The ability to have access to a transparent, clean set of data from across the programmatic supply chain is game-changing. We’re empowered to take action, and this is the first time we’ve been able to use blockchain technology to eliminate waste and optimize our ad buy in this way.”

Toyota has been looking into how it can improve its services using DLT after major global car producers, BMW, General Motors, Ford, and Renault joined with other companies earlier this year to launch the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative.

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Sony Reveals Digital Copyright Management Blockchain

Japanese multinational electronics conglomerate Sony has launched its own blockchain dedicated to managing digital copyrights.

A press release on Monday detailed the new system that specializes in managing the rights of written work on a blockchain, utilizing features that track the original date and time of electronic content creation. Users will also be able to verify themselves as the original content creator and securely share their work on the blockchain, knowing the integrity of their work will be preserved.

While standard copyright management procedures are said to be processed manually by industry organizations or creators, Sony believes that the blockchain can provide a far more efficient way to do so in terms of both time and money.

The electronics firm say that the system will prove compatible with many forms of electronic works, including e-books, music and films and notably various formats of educational content.

While right now it remains for private use, Sony says they are considering commercialization of the system.

Sony added that future blockchain solutions might well be on the way in areas of data management and distribution throughout the company’s various business domains, but right now the emphasis remains on the field of education.

Sony Global Education is cited as ”continuously carrying out technological development and prototyping towards the use of blockchain technology in the educational field.”

China-based news outlet iPR Daily last month indeed revealed that Sony has filed as many as 23 blockchain patents. Further research from iPR shows that IBM and MasterCard have some of the most substantial numbers of blockchain applications, with over 80 apiece.

Despite these major players launching themselves into the blockchain, a recent survey of executives found that the majority of enterprises are finding blockchain adoption more difficult than initially expected.

The 57% that responded this way cited hardware security and scalability as major issues, with over half of non-blockchain dedicated companies struggling to process high volumes of transactions on the blockchain network quickly.

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Coinbase Lauds Japanese Crypto License Hurdles

The chief policy officer of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has praised Japan’s tightened regulatory stance on the cryptocurrency industry, saying that the exchange’s longer-than-expected waiting period to receive its operating license is a good thing.

Mike Lempres spoke with local financial news outlet Nikkei Asian Review where he supported Japan’s increased security measures on the industry, saying that “[It] is good for us”.

The increased regulations that he references include Japan’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) intensification of security requirements from cryptocurrency exchanges since January’s largest reported hack that hit Japanese platform Coincheck. USD 532 million in the NEM cryptocurrency was stolen in the incident.

New cryptocurrency exchanges are now required to go through a more enhanced clearing process before they can legally operate, with 160 apparently waiting to receive their licenses.

According to Lempres, talks with Japan’s leading financial watchdog are ”going well” and Coinbase is committed to its target of launching in Japan by 2019. The exchange has been actively looking to enter the Japanese market since June, giving the timeframe of one year for this to materialize.

Terms of the agreement are being decided

One key area of the licensing agreement still being negotiated is whether Coinbase will be required to operate internally in Japan. According to Lempres, if the FSA requires it, it will certainly be problematic for the exchange’s security measures as they currently operate from the US.

”It would be hard for us to duplicate what we do in the US today in Japan and other countries,” he explained, noting that Coinbase has dozens of security-focused employees working from its California headquarters.

While 99% of funds are stored offline, he says, 1% is held in a so-called ”hot wallet” online which is fully insured.

 

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Singaporean Financial Regulator to Help Crypto Exchanges with Wary Banks

The Singaporean financial regulator has stated that it is willing to support cryptocurrency firms that are having problems with setting up bank accounts in the city.

Some crypto firms have complained against Singapore’s banking system which they argue has resulted in account closures or companies simply not being able to open business accounts. This has resulted in the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) stepping in an attempt to alleviate the problem.

MAS Managing Director Ravi Menon that has said that from the point of view of the banks, he can understand their concerns, arguing they should not allow “an extremely lax regulatory environment in order to attract that kind of business”, referring to the cryptocurrency industry. He added:

“What we are trying to do is to bring the banks and cryptocurrency fintech startups together to see if there is some understanding they can reach… I hope we can bring minds together on this so that we can get over this hurdle.”

Singapore has expressed in the past that it has no desire to follow the Japanese pro-crypto stance on cryptocurrency but on the other hand, is keen to push fintech forward in order create tech jobs and boost the economy. This, however, doesn’t include embracing crypto exchanges in the same way that Japan has. This view is clearly reflected in the stance that many of Singapore’s banks have taken. Menon defends this concern arguing:

“The nature of this business is a bit different, so banks may need to employ other ways in which they can establish bona fide… some of these activities are indeed quite opaque. I would not blame the banks for not opening the bank accounts.”

The problem is not unique to Singapore, as banks in other countries have been reticent to offer services to crypto firms due to concerns about money laundering and financial crime, despite numerous claims that figures are exaggerated. Even European counties such as the Irish Republic have had similar problems where banks have closed crypto exchange accounts.

However, blockchain development is fast becoming a major part of Singapore’s fintech environment. With the recent news that Singapore-based Venture Capital firm Golden Gate Ventures is to launch a $10 million fund targeting crypto and blockchain startups, the country continues to push forward with its DLT investment, with one eye on crypto.

 

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Ripple Enthusiast’s 2020 Olympics Crypto Petition Gains 11k Signatures

A crypto enthusiast has begun his own campaign to get Ripple’s XRP token nominated as the 2020 Olympics official cryptocurrency.

It is not yet clear if the Tokyo games will accept cryptocurrency at the world’s hallmark sporting event but Ken Takahashi won’t let that stop him. His petition on Change.org, now ten months old, has so far gained the approval of 11,000 fellow Ripple enthusiasts.

Takahashi feels that the games would be an ideal location to test out cryptocurrency payments on a large scale, with visitors coming to the Olympics for all corners of the globe with a variety of different currencies. He noted:

“As tourists stream into the country, demand for the local currency skyrockets, causing long lines at currency exchanges, as seen at past events like Beijing 2008 and Rio de Janeiro 2016. Confusing exchange rates and language barriers further complicate the problem.”

It is true that such events can create a nightmare in terms of credit card fees, often costly ATM withdrawals and even some visitors using traveler’s checks for such trips away from home.

Takahashi selected XRP above others, he says, due to fast and cheap cross-border transactions. The Ripple-backed payment service MoneyTap has recently launched on the back of xRapid going live, with zero-fee domestic payments via Ripple’s xCurrent payment platform, but as yet this platform is not powered by XRP.

It is notable, however, that since the launch of new products the rate of signups to Takahashi’s XRP scheme has accelerated. It appears that there has also been more recent interest. Between Saturday, 6 October and Sunday, 7 October, the number of signatures on the petition rose by more than 1,000. From over 8,000, over the past few days, the petition has gained a further 3,000 votes.

The world’s third-ranked cryptocurrency by market capitalization has been pushing to gain greater stature, and if Ripple were to turn this petition into reality it would represent a major boost for the company and cryptocurrency as a whole. So far, there has been no official comment from Ripple regarding the Olympics petition.

 

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Japan Gets New Pro-Crypto Minister to Promote Tech and IT

Japan’s prime minister has appointed the country’s new Science Minister with a proven pro-blockchain history.

Japan’s latest cabinet appointment Takuya Hirai will also take on the important post of Minister of Technology and IT at a time when Japan is ramping up its focus on all things blockchain across the sectors.

The cryptocurrency community will be looking at this appointment with great interest as Minister Hirai, a member of Japan’s Liberal Democrats, has been a significant political player in the past in determining cryptocurrency legislation. He has also been a promoter of emerging technologies such as blockchain.

Earlier this year Hirai was General Advisor to a government-backed study group which had been asked to lay down further rules for the adoption of ICOs, and to offer proposals to the Financial Services Agency (FSA), Japan’s financial regulator. The minister was also the architect of the 2017 law that legalized cryptocurrencies in the country.

Hirai hasn’t shied away from promoting blockchain in Japan and as part of his role as chairperson of the Liberal Democratic Party’s IT Strategy Special Committee, as well as chairperson of the Fintech Promotion Parliamentarians’ Federation; he continues to advance the interests of blockchain companies. Hirai also drafted Japan’s basic cybersecurity law, which was enacted in 2015

The Financial Services Agency (FSA) has tightened its registration screening for cryptocurrency exchanges this year. The FSA is cleaning up its act somewhat after recent hackings, notably following the compromise of Tokyo-based Coincheck’s exchange, with losses to the tune of roughly $530 million. The FSA followed this up by a series of onsite inspections recently which revealed that best practice was not being observed by many exchanges.

It’s thought that Hirai’s appointment, as a minister versed with the new technology and digital currency, demonstrates the government’s determination to not only advance blockchain technology in Japan but to also clean up the industry and create workable rules for ICO’s, and also in the monitoring of exchanges by the FSA.

Due to Japan’s vibrant cryptocurrency space, there are currently estimated to be about 160 exchanges hoping to enter the Japanese market.

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Japanese Crypto Association Tightens Self-Regulatory Measures

A Japanese self-regulatory body of cryptocurrency exchanges has tightened laws on customer asset management, according to Japan Times. According to sources within the the Japanese Virtual Currency Exchange Association (JVCEA), the group consisting of some of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges operating in the country has established a limit on the amount of digital currencies and tokens that can be managed online to deter future hacking attempts. The exchange association was established in April in an attempt to self-regulate the cryptocurrency exchange landscape.

The move comes after yet another cryptocurrency exchange was hacked in Japan last week. Zaif, the affected exchange lost more than USD 59.7 million worth of cryptocurrencies because of this hack and the tokens were reportedly stored in its hot wallet.

The JVCEA is attempting to limit the risk of hacks by pushing exchanges to keep most of their coins offline in cold storage wallets, with only up to 10-20% of the total customer holdings to be allowed in the hot wallet from which transactions can be made automatically.

The move is swift and pre-emptive because any news of the financial watchdog Financial Services Agency (FSA) will affect all of these exchanges and their operations. The JVCEA believes that self-regulation is important for the future because government interference negatively affects the cryptocurrency circles. It remains to be seen how the FSA will react due to the recent hacking episode in the Asian country, although it has made apparent its frustrations in the case of Zaif.

Japan is one of the most progressive countries in adopting cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology but it also has been the target of some of the biggest hacks in history with the USD 523 million worth of NEM tokens being stolen from CoinCheck exchange earlier this year.

 

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Breaking News: Google Announces Partial Lift of Crypto Ads Ban

In breaking news, Google has announced that it plans to allow some platforms to advertise on its platform, breaking its blanket ban on cryptocurrency advertising introduced in June 2018.

The latest news released on Tuesday 25 September suggests that the new policy will become effective in October which will allow registered crypto companies to advertise on its Google Adwords platform.

The initial June ban was introduced according to Google to “protect” customers, including advertising for ICO, crypto wallets, exchanges, and cryptocurrency trading advice. As of today, all of these ads still remain under the ban. At the time of the ban, a Google spokesman commented that:

“We don’t have a crystal ball to know where the future is going to go with cryptocurrencies, but we’ve seen enough consumer harm or potential for consumer harm that it’s an area that we want to approach with extreme caution.”

The most recent announcement from Google has suggested that certain ads by registered cryptocurrency exchanges will be allowed from October providing that they specifically target US and Japanese audiences. The statement from Google explains:

“Advertisers will need to be certified with Google for the specific country in which their ads will serve. Advertisers will be able to apply for certification once the policy launches in October.”

The newly updated policy is not restricted to any particular country, providing that the ads run in the US and Japan and advertisers apply for certification to run ads in those countries. It is uncertain whether Google’s partial lifting of the crypto advertising ban was influenced by Facebook who also reversed a ban on advertising for pre-approved crypto exchanges and companies after banning ads earlier this year.

Today’s announcement by Google clarified the new guidelines for advertising:

“The Google Ads policy on Financial products and services will be updated in October 2018 to allow regulated cryptocurrency exchanges to advertise in the United States and Japan. Advertisers will need to be certified with Google for the specific country in which their ads will serve. Advertisers will be able to apply for certification once the policy launches in October.”

 

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Asia is Buoyant, New Crypto Exchanges Set for Hong Kong, Korea, and Indonesia

While 160 crypto exchanges wait to enter the Japanese market, elsewhere, the market is turning more buoyant, as Hong Kong, Korea, and Indonesia are poised to become home to new exchanges. Bitone Trade HK, Huobi – Indonesia, and South Korean Probit have all announced that they are opening exchanges.

Hong Kong is particularly buoyant in the blockchain industry at the moment and is feeling the pinch in the sector with a lack of qualified professionals to fill positions. A “talent list” has been issued by The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in which it states that it needs “quality people from around the world in a more effective and focused manner to support Hong Kong’s development as a high value-added and diversified economy”. Among the 11 professions on the new list are those with DLT skills.

The latest exchange, Bitone Trade HK will support 30 cryptocurrencies with plans to eventually list more than 100 coins. The company commented:

“Our platform is launched in Hong Kong which is Asia’s international financial center and we provide customers with stable and secure services. Mainly for the Asian market, our goal is to achieve a monthly transaction volume of US$5 billion”

Indonesia may not be one of the markets that spring to mind when the word cryptocurrency drops into a conversation, but the industry is beginning to express itself in South East Asia and forging its own way. The world’s fourth most populous nation has just launched its first formal blockchain association — Asosiasi Blockchain Indonesia (ABI), boosting hopes that the Southeast Asian country may yet embrace blockchain technology.

Huobi Indonesia built on the Huobi Cloud platform will list 123 coins on its new exchange. Currently, the platform lists three base cryptocurrencies: USDT, BTC, and ETH.

South Korea and Japan are considered the crypto powerhouses in the region and never run out of crypto news. Its latest exchange, soon to be launched Probit will list 157 currencies and plans to support eight languages on the platform. The bonus for users is the platform’s heightened levels of security, ensuring that more than 95% of digital assets are stored in a cold wallet supported by hardware keys and software double authentication. The company assures its clients that their “goal is to provide a virtual currency trading platform with the highest level of security.”

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15.8 Million UK Residents Own or Are Considering Bitcoin

A recent survey by Bitcoin wallet Luno has shown the desire by UK residents for the launching of a “Bitcoin Barometer” which monitors the numbers of those currently involved in crypto.

The barometer, which was launched today, shows that an estimated 15.8 million UK residents either currently own or would consider owning cryptocurrencies in the future.

The recent survey of 2,000 UK residents by Luno indicates that over a quarter could see Bitcoin as becoming a valid currency in the future, used in the same way as traditional mainstream currencies in circulation. Some 23% wanted more information, a figure born out by previous surveys elsewhere, and a fifth of respondent said that they would like to see Bitcoin used online and in-store in retail.

Again, as other surveys have indicated, trust and understanding remain a key issue as a barrier to wider adoption in the community. Luno’s own figures reflected this with 43% of respondents admitting that they hadn’t purchased cryptocurrencies for this reason and over half called for further regulation.

Maya Kumar, company spokesman and head in the UK and Ireland, commented:

“Our survey showed that just under 2 in 5 (36%) had not purchased cryptocurrencies because they didn’t understand the concept. There are public misunderstandings around cryptocurrencies that lead to this lack of trust. We believe by making cryptocurrencies easier to understand through education and offering a user-friendly, safe platform, more people across the globe can trust, benefit from an upgrade to a better financial system.”

What came through clearly, based on the numbers, is that cryptocurrency is well established in the UK, far more so that many other nations in Europe, such as France where crypto uptake is particularly low. South Korea, Japan, and the UK currently lead the way in general cryptocurrency awareness.

Earlier this year, UK city minister John Glen suggested that regulation could be a “significant boost”  to the local cryptocurrency industry should the government be able to find an appropriate level of regulation.

 

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