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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 3rd to 9th March, 2019

North America

North America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

The United States

Utah’s Lawmakers Make Efforts to Encourage Blockchain Growth: In order to exempt blockchain firms from the application of Money Transmitters Act, a bill has been pushed by Utah’s lawmakers. The bill is presented to encourage the growth of crypto sector in Utah.

As per the act, a money transmitter license has to be obtained by any firm issuing payment instruments to be put up for sale. Bill no. 213 was filed in the Senate by Daniel Hemmert (Republican senator) to exempt digital currencies from obtaining the said license. It is yet unclear what kind of backing this latest pro-crypto bill will have in the state’s legislature and things will become clearer once the debate starts on the floor.

Kroger to Drop Visa Credit Card Payment Option: Kroger will stop accepting Visa credit card payments from next month, reports the media. The largest supermarket chain in the US, with 108 fuel center locations and 142 supermarkets, cited “excessive transition fees” as the reason to drop credit card payments. However, Kroger has not announced any alternative payment method. According to rumors, the company is considering Bitcoin (BTC) as a replacement due to the cryptocurrency’s universal appeal.

Anthony Pompliano, Morgan Creek Digital partner, has purportedly suggested Kroger Digital representatives use BTC as an alternative option. However, the company itself has not spoken on the matter and we await further details on it.

Philadelphia to Facilitate Cash Payments Along With New Jersey and Massachusetts: After the states of New Jersey and Massachusetts, Philadelphia has now announced the introduction of new laws for the utilization of cash in retail stores. The move is expected to affect the adoption of a cashless future in the state as it may slow down its pace.

From July 2019 onwards, Philly retailers will be required to accept cash as payment. The city has decided to facilitate residents who do not own a debit or credit card. Previously, New Jersey announced a ban on all cashless stores in order to keep cash in circulation.

However, the decision has raised considerable questions regarding digital currency adoption in the state. In case cash payments become a widespread phenomenon, it may negatively affect the appeal of cryptocurrencies but the state may change its stance because of the pressure from companies for a more cashless future.

Bahamas

Bahamas Central Bank Announces Collaborators for Its Digital Currency Project: With the aim of developing a virtual fiat currency system for the Bahamas, the country’s Central Bank has announced its collaborating members, noted an official document.

As per the document, NZIA.io (transaction provider) and Zynesis (software development firm offering blockchain solutions) will join the project, which is named as “Project Sand Dollar”.

The project will deal with reducing service delivery and cash transaction costs. Moreover, the overall operational efficiency of the financial system will be enhanced. Digital currency will integrate communities across the Bahamas (currently lacking a proper banking system) into the financial system.

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Europe: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 3rd to 9th March, 2019

Europe

Europe

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

Switzerland

First Real Estate Deal on Blockchain Recorded in Switzerland: Switzerland completed its first ever blockchain-backed real estate transaction. Blockimmo Ltd collaborated with Swiss Crypto Tokens Ltd and Elea Labs Ltd to achieve this feat.

The said deal consisted of a restaurant and 18 apartments and is estimated to be worth CHF 3 million (USD 2.98 million). Ethereum (ETH) blockchain was used in order to tokenize the property. To account for the price fluctuations, the CryptoFranc (XCHF) was used, which is pegged to the Swiss franc.

Russia

Russian Railways Plans to Integrate Blockchain Technology Into Its System: Russia is planning to integrate blockchain technology into its railway system. The system will be used to determine exempts in the railway transport system, states Rambler News Service (RNS).

The Russian Railways and Russian National Pension Fund will sign a contract to provide travel discounts and bring transparency to the railway transport system monitoring.

Anton Drozdov, head of the Pension Fund, hoped that the deal will be finalized by the end of the on-going year. He believed that blockchain will help eliminate fraud and forgery in the use of discounted transport services.

Crypto Plans for Offshore Development Revealed by Russian Deputy Minister: Ships and digital assets will be affected by a new package of measures for the improvement of Russian offshore companies, stated Ilya Torosov, Russian deputy minister of economic development. Local news outlet TASS reported the news.

Last year, the Ministry of Economic Development developed the Special Administrative Regions (SAR) as part of its “Russian offshore companies” project. Now, it is planning to facilitate digital assets and other business in general by introducing tax exemptions.

France

Anonymous Digital Currencies Must Be Banned, Suggests Eric Woerth: A ban on anonymous cryptocurrencies (privacy coins) is suggested by Eric Woerth (head of the Finance Committee of France’s National Assembly). He stated his opinion in a recent report on blockchain technology and digital assets.

The virtual currencies which ensure “greater anonymity to users” must be banned, noted Woerth in a forward to the report. Along with that, he also discussed crypto-related problems such as money laundering, fraud, energy consumption, and tax evasion

Malta

Banks in Malta Hesitant to Entertain Crypto Businesses: Banks in Malta are not facilitating cryptocurrency businesses, reported Times of Malta. Various startups are facing problems with account opening in local banks. According to banks, blockchain sector is outside their risk appetite.

Time of Malta collected the said information from Malta-based blockchain related businesses in the pervious week. Banks are awaiting more lucidity from Malta’s Financial Service Authority (MFSA) regarding the status of cryptocurrencies, noted the report.

The United Kingdom

Majority of the UK Consumers Do Not Know About Cryptocurrencies: Majority of UK consumers (73%) are unable to define what a digital asset is or are ignorant about it, noted the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Moreover, those having sufficient knowledge about cryptocurrencies are men (aged between 20-44). As per the survey, only 3% of polled (2,132) British consumers ever bought digital currency. Half of them spent less than GBP 200 (USD 263) from their disposable income. However, Bitcoin (BTC) stood out as the most well-known cryptocurrency followed by Ethereum (ETH).

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Africa and the Middle East: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 3rd to 9th March, 2019

Africa

Africa and the Middle East

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

South Africa

Bank in South Africa Develops a New Blockchain Financial System: In a bid to reduce economic trade and foreign exchange problems, South Africa’s Standard Bank has developed a private blockchain and permission blockchain system which will be launched on behalf of its corporate clients. Standard Bank and its partner in Uganda, Static Ban, will use the system along with 3rd parties directly involved with the banks.

The system aims to accelerate settlement processing as well as increase transparency of transactions since the involved parties will be able to view the documents in real time. The system is built using the Hyperledger Fabric, and will also be connected to SASB’s foreign currency-trading app, Shyft. The solution is projected to go live in the second half of 2019.

Bahrain

Bahrain Pressure Could Legalize Crypto Market in India: Due to the negative legislations by Reserve Bank of India on crypto businesses, Indian Bitcoin dealers have been using only peer-to-peer transfers to convert cryptocurrencies. But pressure from other market competitors, in particular from Bahrain whose recent invitation to Indian crypto companies to relocate to their country might take away investment worth billions of dollars out of India, forcing the country to rethink its policies.

Bahrain completed its regulatory draft for cryptocurrencies two months ago and now has also finished the legislation. The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) has also been pushing for the optimal ecosystem to encourage crypto growth and innovation, and initiatives like open banking, crypto asset trade regulation, regulation on robo advisory, and streamlined remittance collection make Bahrain a very enticing prospect.

UAE

UAE Bullish for Crypto, Records USD 210M Investment in January and February 2019: While ICOs have generally been going down across the globe, UAE shows no signs of stopping as it was the #1 country in terms of funds raised by ICOs. This amounted to a whopping USD 210M in January and February 2019 alone, overtaking Singapore and the UK.

The UAE raised USD 42M in January 2019, which is about 41% of ICOs’ amount worldwide. And they were well ahead of the second-best Estonia, who raised over USD 64M. The total amount raised was about USD 347M, with the top 5 countries constituting about 63% of the funds. UAE’s success can be attributed to a single ICO — the Genesis Crypto Blockchain Investment Bank — which alone raised over USD 142M.

Turkey

Turkish Telecom Giant Turkcell Introduces Blockchain ID Management Product: Turkcell, an Istanbul-based telecommunication services provider, has announced the launch of a blockchain-based service for ID management which offers the users control over their personal information while ensuring privacy under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements.

The data will be stored on blockchain and thus will eliminate any additional identity verification requirements. The solution also includes a blockchain-based donation collection option that leverages the ID management tool to verify the donation eligibility for people in need.

Israel

Israel Securities Authority Recommends Crypto Regulation: Israel Securities Authority (ISA) wants to move the crypto business operations forward with regulations, as revealed in its final report on the cryptocurrency industry.

The report includes the findings of the crypto regulatory committee, which recommends implementing security laws on the sector concerning issuance and trading of the cryptocurrencies. The committee also claimed that this supervision would help in the progress of cryptocurrency, courtesy the significant connection between the regulator and the industry.

Israeli Company Partners With the Marshall Islands to Launch a Digital Currency: The Marshall Islands, a small nation with over 55000 population, is preparing to release their own digital currency this year, called “SOV.”

The development of SOV has been undergoing since 2017 in collaboration with Neema, an Israel-based company. Although an exciting prospect, the officials admitted that a definitive date for the launch couldn’t be given because of many pitfalls in the technological and logistical side of issuing the SOV using blockchain in addition to the concerns of United States financial regulators.

Largest Israeli Blockchain Company Facing Extensive Layoffs: The reverberations of the crypto market crash have also been felt in the Israeli Blockchain market, which has forced the First Digital Assets Group to restructure and sanction massive layoffs.

The changes will involve shutting down of its research company, One Alpha, and the merger of the remaining four companies – Knox, Stamina, Titan, and K1– into one parent company. The group still reiterated their faith in the technology and insisted that they will now be investing in new blockchain solutions with a focus on the liquidity functions of the company.

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South America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 3rd to 9th March, 2019

South America

South America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

Argentina

Binance to Collaborate With Argentina’s Government on Blockchain Projects: In order to co-invest in a series of blockchain related projects, Binance is planning to join hands with Argentina’s government, notes a report.

The government will collaborate with LatamEx (regional exchange) and Binance Labs (Binance’s innovation arm).

Previously, Binance announced that Buenos Aires will be chosen as its Latin American hub before the upcoming round of development. According to the report, USD 50000 will be funded by the government for around 40 blockchain projects over a span of four years.

Brazil

Brazil May Regulate Crypto Sector Again Following GAFIT Request: Financial Action Task Force (GAFIT / FAFT) requests Brazil to adopt similar regulations for both crypto exchanges and banks. According to a media report, crypto sector may suffer a setback as Brazil may decide to respond to the said request. On 22 February, a meeting was held in France and it was decided to regulate crypto services providers. In the previous week, the G20 group (responsible for the regulations) requested the participating countries (35) to consider the crypto sector the same as the banking sector.

Brazil to Present Blockchain Related Articles in an International Conference on Accounting: During the 2nd International Conference on Accounting, Brazil will report the potential of digital assets in transforming processes in the public sector. The said congress will be held during the month of March in Portugal, states media outlets.

The article titled “Use of Blockchain Technology as an Instrument of Digital Governance in the Public Sector” will be presented by the vice-rector of the University of Brasília.

The theme of the conference is “Financial Management Reform – Challenges for Research and Practice”.

Brazil Ranked as the Fifth Largest Country to Own Cryptocurrency: Brazil has been ranked as the fifth largest country in the world with respect to the Bitcoin and digital currency owners. Global Digital Report issued the recent rankings, placing Brazil above China, Japan, and the USA. Around 8.1% Brazilians (aged between 16 and 64) own some kind of digital currency. On the other hand, the world average is around 5.5%, noted the report.

A new level of security can be achieved by using blockchain technology, maintained CargoSnap’s co-founder Daniel Lins: Lins recently highlighted the importance of investing in technologies that can ensure risk management. Risk management that can be done by using tamper-free certifications or that can identify the person who did the tampering are very crucial, he added. By using blockchain technology, a new level of security and protection can be achieved.

Brazil’s Legislative Chamber Refuse to Accept Blockchain Backed Digital Signatures: The Legislative Chamber of the Federal District has refused to accept blockchain backed digital signatures, according to a report. The chamber maintained that the digital method of obtaining the signatures is “invalid”.

The project, named as Cheapest Chamber, was initiated by Institute of Society and Technology of Rio (ITS-Rio). In order to present a bill to the legislature, ITS-Rio digitally collected the necessary signatures. However, the Legislative Chamber has refused to accept those signatures.

Director ITS-RIO, Rolando Lemos stated that it is unfortunate that less secure and much difficult to obtain physical signatures are preferred over digital signatures.

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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 23rd February to 2nd March 2019

North America

North America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

Canada

Regulations Proposed After Quadriga CEO Reportedly Takes USD 140 Million to His Grave: Canadian public and regulators are calling for new regulations to be put in place after CEO Gerald Cotton died without giving the whereabouts of the USD 140 million worth of private crypto stash that belonged to investors of the exchange.

The bizarre incident caused the exchange to go into bankruptcy and seek creditor protection. The cautionary tale is forcing the community and the government to ensure that digital assets can still be accessed after a person’s death to distribute to his heirs.

Crypto Ponzi Scheme Banned in Ontario: USI Tech, a US-based Ponzi scheme claiming to deal in forex and cryptocurrency has been banned in Ontario by the Ontario Securities Commission. The abrupt closure comes after the company’s management threw its Canadian affiliates under the bus.

Last month, the OSC had issued a Cease Trade Order against the platform without any reason and the company tried to get out of it by saying that it hadn’t sold any product in Canada directly but only through local independent traders. That is when OSC came to the conclusion that USI Tech was dishonest and warranted a blanket ban.

USA

Congressman Tells Federal Reserve Chair That Cryptocurrencies Will Improve Innovation in the Country: Representative Warren Davidson (R-OH) has told the Federal Reserve chairman that cryptocurrencies can help innovate the fintech space in the country in a recent congressional hearing.

He said:

“Bitcoin doesn’t represent blockchain anymore than a website represents the internet. It is one use…..Capital has fled the United States where this innovation [was] initially off to a good start. Do you believe that regulatory certainty could foster innovation in this market…in the token economy?”

Davidson also cited the development of the internet as a similar example to that of the crypto sector and suggested the Federal Reserve Chair allow it to do so. The response of some of the other lawmakers was not as encouraging as Davidson’s.

Ripple Lawsuit to Remain in Federal Court: Ripple scored a minor legal victory last week when it announced that the securities lawsuit against the company’s XRP cryptocurrency was to remain in Federal court despite a move by the prosecution.

Lawyer Jake Chervinsky announced the development through a tweet on 1st March 2019 and said that the plaintiff’s motions were denied by the court and termed it as a minor victory. The case currently being fought by Ripple is a class action lawsuit against Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse and Ripple for illegally selling unregistered securities in the country.

Specific Tokens to Be Exempted from Securities Law in Rhode Island: A new bill tabled in the Rhode Island legislature suggests that some digital tokens should be excluded from securities laws of the state.

The bipartisan effort H5595 recommends a series of amendments to the Rhode Island Securities Act and suggests several revolutionary changes. According to the new bill, tokens for consumptive use including receipt of services, goods or content may not fall within the securities laws.

But, the bill clearly suggests that tokens are not allowed to be used for investment purposes and so, it makes the adoption of the new bill a tricky subject up for debate in the state assembly.

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Europe: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 23rd February to 2nd March 2019

Europe

Europe

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

Russia

President Vladimir Putin Sets July 1 Deadline for Crypto Regulations: The President of Russia Vladimir Putin has instructed the Federal Assembly to set a deadline of 1 July to come up with the regulatory framework for digital asset regulation in the country. The move comes after months of indecisive attitude of the local financial watchdogs when it comes to cryptocurrency regulation.

Until now, only a working draft has been prepared with several shortcomings that have been criticized by many leading cryptopreneurs and enthusiasts.

Malta

IMF Suggest That Malta’s Current AML and CFT Regulations Are Insufficient: The international monetary watchdog International Monetary Fund (IMF) has recently stated that there are some shortcomings when it comes to Malta’s Financing of Terrorism (CFT) and Anti Money Laundering (AML) regulations. The Times of Malta reported the news after IMF released a comprehensive report on the country’s regulatory and supervisory framework including an assessment of its financial system.

The IMF recommended a multi-faceted approach for these deficiencies in the CFT/AML regulations. Screenings of beneficiary owner information and monitoring of risk-sensitive accounts including digital assets like cryptocurrencies should be among the top priorities of the government according to the IMF.

Malta has some of the most progressive laws when it comes to cryptocurrencies but due to the transnational nature of these new assets, contemporary financial authorities are wary of the threat it brings.

Germany

Derivatives Exchange Considering Crypto Futures Contracts: German derivatives market Eurex has been rumoured to soon start new futures contracts according to local news. The exchange is supposedly considering Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple for these said contracts.

While no official comments have been made by the exchange itself regarding the bold move, news outlets reported that the exchange’s management is working behind the scenes with marketing experts and others regarding these futures contracts.

Ukraine

Government Completes Pilot for e-Hyrvnia Currency: The government of Ukraine with the help of the country’s Central bank has announced the successful culmination of a pilot program for a national digital currency project.

The news was broken by the Head of Payments Network of the National Bank of Ukraine Aleksandr Yablunivsky. The pilot project itself was launched in December 2018. However, Yablunivsky rejected the notion that the new currency was a cryptocurrency. He claims it is just a project to reduce the reliance on cash in the local market.

European Union

Regulatory Head Seeks More Control of the Cryptocurrency Markets: Steven Maijoor, the current head of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has said that he supports further regulation of cryptocurrency assets in the Union.

According to Maijoor:

“Where crypto assets do not qualify as financial instruments, we are concerned that the absence of applicable financial rules leaves consumers exposed to substantial risks,”

It is yet unclear what Maijoor is proposing as part of a further regulatory package. The EU currently has one of the toughest cryptocurrency regulation in the world and it is believed that the central working committee will propose further tightening of regulations like Anti Money Laundering to include cryptocurrency transactions from one asset to another and not just crypto-fiat transactions. Cryptocurrencies have overall become a major headache for European countries who are torn between supporting the new asset class and ensuring governments’ control over it.

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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 23rd February to 2nd March 2019

Asia

Asia and Australia

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

South Korea

ICONLOOP Denies That It Is Looking to Undertake an Ipo: Rumors concerning the launch of ICON’s Initial Public Offering (IPO) have been denied by ICONLOOP (South Korean company developing ICON).

Previously, a local media house reported that an anonymous source from the banking sector confirmed ICONLOOP’s plan to get listed on Korea Exchange by 2020. Moreover, Mirae Asset Daewoo Co. (a brokerage firm) was requested by ICONLOOP to lead the efforts of an IPO. The said news immediately gave rise to these rumors.

Singapore

Singapore’s GIC May Have Funded Coinbase, Says Report: Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte. may be involved in funding Coinbase, reports Bloomberg. According to various sources, Coinbase received around USD 300 million in terms of funding. In October 2018, against all the odds, Coinbase’s funding round gave it a valuation of USD 8 billion. However, both the parties have refrained from commenting on the matter.

Ranging from government bonds to private equity, GIC has a diverse investment portfolio. Reportedly, GIC has invested in over 40 countries and has a worth of over USD 100 billion.

Thailand

Thai Securities and Exchange Commission Updates the List of Approved Digital Assets: The list of approved digital assets that can be used as base trading pairs and in initial coin offerings (ICOs) has been expanded by Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), notes an official statement.

The updated list now includes Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum Classic (ETC) and Litecoin (LTC). However, the said list already consists of Ethereum (ETH), Stellar (XLM), Bitcoin (BTC) and Ripple (XRP). All the digital assets present in this list can be used in compliance with Thailand’s national regulations. Nevertheless, none of the listed currencies can be used as legal tender, clarified SEC.

India

Supreme Court of India Orders the Union of India to Finalize Crypto Regulations: The Union of India has been ordered by the Supreme Court of India to present a regulatory framework for the crypto sector within four weeks. In case the Union is unable to present the framework, the Court will be prompted to come up with its own decision.  Moreover, the Supreme Court has refused to hear any case until a proper regulatory framework has been worked out.

Advocate Vijay Pal Dalmia (earliest petitioner in the case) maintained that the Union of India has been given the last opportunity to regulate the crypto sector.

Japan

Japanese Tech Giants to Launch Tamper-Free Education Certificates: Sony and Fujitsu will join hands in order to provide tamper-free education certificates backed by blockchain technology, announced Sony.

A field trial has been launched by Sony Global Education and Fujitsu Research Institute to evaluate the feasibility of using blockchain technology in order to manage exam grades and course records. Moreover, Human Academy (serving foreign students) will be a part of the said trial.

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Africa and the Middle East: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 23rd February to 2nd March 2019

Africa

Africa and the Middle East

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

South Africa

Foreign Investment in South Africa’s Crypto Sector Grows: The crypto-sector investment is growing in South Africa as companies in this lucrative industry race to get a share of the pie. Recently, Bittrex, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world announced a USD 1.5 million seed funding for a new platform in the country.

VALR, a new exchange attracted the sizeable investment from Bittrex and marks a new trend towards diversification of crypto trading in the country which will attract further investment from around the world.

Kenya

Communities Looking to Crypto for Improved Cash Flow: Small, remote communities in Kenya are now using bitcoin for an improved cash flow experience despite the uncertainty clouding cryptocurrencies.

The East African nation famous for its tea production is expected to increase crypto adoption as it will help solve several chronic cash-related problems rampant due to poor management. Despite regulatory pressures from the government and the Central Bank, the popularity of cashless economy including cryptocurrencies has seen an all-time high in recent months which is evident from the activity on popular platforms like Remitano and LocalBitcoins.com.

Turkey

Turkey Has the Largest Number of Cryptocurrency Owners in Europe: Turkey has become the biggest crypto ownership country in the Middle East and Europe combined. According to a recent survey conducted in the country, almost 18% of all Turks declared that they owned cryptocurrencies. This is the highest rate in all of Europe despite several progressive crypto nations in the continent with much more lenient laws when it comes to cryptocurrencies.

On average, only 9% of the European responders declared that they owned cryptocurrencies. Second most number of cryptocurrency owners is in Romania, another one of the smaller countries while Luxembourg, Belgium, and France only had 4%, 5% and 6% with some of the worst numbers in the continent. The reason behind the high number of cryptocurrency users in Turkey is because of its recent fiscal problems that arose from US sanctions, resulting in the drop of Lira exchange rate by 25% before recovering again. The local cryptocurrency trading volume went up several times in the country in the backdrop of these sanctions as people began buying bitcoin to circumnavigate the effects of Lira inflation.

United Arab Emirates

UAE Firm Denies Accepting Cryptocurrency for Real Estate Deals: Emaar Properties, a real estate tycoon in Dubai that built the Burj Khalifa tower has denied that they are now accepting bitcoin and other cryptocurrenc