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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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Crypto Rewards Program to Boost Air Asia Service

Malaysian budget airlines Air Asia has announced that it is about to launch a cryptocurrency-based frequent-flyer rewards program.

Frequent flyer

The Nikkei Asia Review revealed last week that Air Asia plans to update its current digital services to include a cashless system. The system is part of a major upgrade of its digital program which will include seat purchasing, in-flight meals, seat upgrades and other services. The airlines will offer passengers an alternative to fiat currencies through the launch of its own digital currency in next six months, although it is still unclear whether the airline has plans to utilize an existing platform in the future.

Air Asia is not the only airlines to examine if blockchain tech is suitable as a possible rewards program. Singapore Airlines also announced last month its intentions to launch a frequent flyer program of its own in this way, although the company hasn’t commented on plans to develop its own cryptocurrency.

Ticketing

Taiwan Airline, Far Eastern Air, has also announced that it will accept crypto payments for its ticketing, becoming the first Taiwanese airline to offer its passengers cryptocurrency fares. The airline promises to accept cryptocurrency payments and all relevant services and sees itself as a ‘pioneer’ in the industry as a result. The airline’s president, Zhang Gangwei, suggests that “…the widespread use of cryptocurrency in various scenarios will usher in a new future for the airline business…”.

Accommodation

Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea, now well known for their adoption of cryptocurrency as a means of payment for services, are proactive within the travel industry, always seeking ways to improve customer satisfaction. A South Korean travel website with over 50,000 hotels is now offering its guests cryptocurrency paid bookings.

Air Asia head Tony Fernandes claims that cryptocurrencies will play “an important role in the South East Asian economy” as the region is home to millions of overseas workers who send billions of dollars across borders.

 

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