Category Archives: Malaysia

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Malaysia Pushes Top Industries to Blockchain

Malaysia’s top three industries are being propelled into blockchain adoption in an effort to promote economic growth alongside transparency, efficiency, and sustainability with the help of a government task force.

The sectors being targeted by the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) task force include renewable energy, palm oil, and Islamic finance.

In the energy sector, the government task force has held discussions with local companies to investigate how blockchain can assist in the growth of renewable energy users. Blockchain was decided to be of use in this area by providing transparency over how the energy was generated, be it from sustainable sources or not, meaning that customers can choose to purchase only green energy if they wish to do so.

Palm oil has become a contentious commodity due to a lack of ethical labor practices in its production, including reports of child labor coming from several countries. With blockchain, MIGHT wants to give buyers the ability to see that the palm oil they are purchasing from Malaysia comes from a government-approved ethical production line, while also setting up the government infrastructure necessary to monitor production in the country. Australia has also used a similar blockchain strategy to monitor the origin of sugarcane entering the country.

Islamic banking in 2016 accounted for 28% of Malaysia’s financial sector, with the government hoping they can increase this to 40% by 2020. MIGHT believes that blockchain can be used to offset the high costs of the strict ethical regulations that Sharia laws require from financial and banking services. Similar operations have already begun appearing in the Middle East where banks have started pegging debt to gold units, presenting this as a blockchain smart contract.

Bitcoin News has previously reported on the compatibilities of cryptocurrency and Sharia-compliant financial practices, with the first Islamic law abiding crypto exchange launched earlier this month opening the market up for Muslims.

 

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Malaysian Students Show the Way at the BlockchainSPIRIT Hackathon in Singapore

A University based in the UK is taking up the slack for Malaysia’s shortage of blockchain professionals. The institution, through its program, is helping develop the next generation of startup CEOs.

The University of Southampton Malaysia (UoSM), based in the UK has a split campus programme which allows students from Malaysia to study the first two years in their home country then the final two years at the world-class research center at Southampton University.

Blockchain developers are in short supply and also in high demand around the globe and on Upwork, blockchain developers are reportedly among the top 20 fastest growing jobs. UoSM works with industry to ensure their pool of talented students can contribute to new roles of the future.

A group of such Malaysian students from UoSM have just won an award at a competition in Singapore.

The team of four from the university competed in the BlockchainSPIRIT Hackathon at the Nanyang Technological University. They won the “Most Impactful Project” for an app designed by the group which improves courtroom recordings. Engineering students Do Wen Rei, Delveer Singh, and Chia Tze Hank, created ‘Legal-chain’, a solution that uses speech recognition technology to generate court transcripts for legal proceedings.

Do Wen Rei commented how they had struggled with selecting how to go about the process:

‘Being new to blockchain technologies, we had been struggling to choose which platform to use. We were fortunate that the technical trainers were patient with us and helped us get started” adding, “We did not expect to win this prestigious award. We are very proud to have had our project recognised in this way.”

Prof Rebecca Taylor, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Asean) and chief executive officer of UoSM said that she was highly encouraged that students from the University their practical solutions were recognised by professionals:

“Having students take what they have learnt from their course to create practical solutions, embodies our University Mission to change the world for the better…We are incredibly proud of the determination, passion, and inventiveness of our students and delighted that their efforts have been recognised by digital leaders in this way.”

As blockchain continues to make inroads in Malaysia, the government continues to show caution with its cryptocurrency regulation. The Malaysian Central bank, Bank Negara, has not outlawed cryptocurrencies and continues to allow exchanges to operate in the country. Malaysians are able to trade providing exchanges or individuals collect full details of the trader in addition to current ID.

The new guidelines were introduced earlier this year after Bitcoin’s drop in value.

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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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