Category Archives: Vietnam

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Chinese Miners Struggle for Easy Ride in Iran

Things aren’t turning out to be smooth for Chinese Bitcoin miners heading into Iran to profit from cheaper electricity rates.

Long before China hinted it may consider halting Bitcoin mining projects, the exodus began and Iran recently became a hotspot for miners along with parts of South East Asia such as Vietnam and Cambodia. China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is now looking to siphon off a number of industries which include cryptocurrency mining as part of a state cleanup.

The Iranian venture for many of those Chinese miners deciding to make the move has gone sour, and reports coming back from Iran highlight some of the issues which have made the Middle East less attractive than was at first perceived.

One issue has been getting the equipment across the Iranian border. One miner Liu Feng reported that the chance of losing equipment at the border has become common, with Iranian customs confiscating at least 40,000 crypto mining rigs to date. Some rigs can be sneaked through if presented as non-mining processors for those lucky enough to be able to strike up a deal with customs officials. Feng explains the reason for the confiscations:

“Because of [Iran’s] huge electricity subsidy, the government has added this energy-hungry device (bitcoin miner) to the list of 2,000 banned shipments to come in.”

The same mining enthusiast, Lui Feng also had problems pricing his electricity supply with a local supplier after his supply tariff was doubled just two months into operation. A subsequent set up resulted in angry locals complaining about the noise emitted from his rigs, resulting in miners being confiscated.

Despite these hurdles, Chinese Bitcoin miners are still optimistic that it can get better for them in Iran. With the Iranian government now accepting crypto mining as a legal activity, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani is behind a new cloud computing industrial park. Also, there are rumors that Tehran may get behind the import of Bitcoin mining hardware.

Currently, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are still detaining or confiscating machines at border points with tough import rules still in place.

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Vietnam’s First Crypto Exchange Could Hit Legal Roadblock

Vietnam’s First Crypto Exchange Could Hit Legal Roadblock

Vietnam’s first ever cryptocurrency exchange may struggle to survive after tough words from the country’s State Securities Commission (SSC) warning off those considering cryptocurrency-related activities.

Swiss-based blockchain company Kronn Ventures AG is committed to launching what will be Vietnam’s first official cryptocurrency platform after signing a memorandum of understanding with Linh Thanh Group, a Vietnam-based distribution company. An official from the company announced the scope of its current projects:

“Working together with Kronn Ventures would lead to a world-class cryptocurrency exchange. Kronn is known widely as a leader in blockchain technology in Switzerland. It is also collaborating with King’s College in London for the AI research facility collaborations.”

However, the Vietnamese government could spoil the party if its announcement made last year still holds when it declared that industries should not participate in “any issuance, transaction or brokerage activities related to cryptocurrencies”. At present, Kronn has been able to secure a license mainly due to the inability of the Vietnamese Ministry of Justice to back up its warnings with further prohibitive regulation.

A Ministry of Justice cryptocurrency review had been forwarded to the Vietnamese government in November 2018, almost one year overdue, proposing three different stances; crypto friendly laws, prohibition or legalization of cryptocurrency, but only under tight scrutiny.

It appears that Kronn Ventures has rather slipped under the wire, taking advantage of Vietnam’s indecisiveness and lack of commitment to any set approach regarding the future of digital currency in the South East Asian country.

 

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Report: Japan, South Korea Playground for Bad Actors in 2018

Report: Japan, South Korea Playground for Bad Actors in 2018

The latest CipherTrace report into cybercrime has revealed that much of the USD 1.7 billion worth of cryptocurrency stolen in 2018 came from the Asian Bitcoin arena of Japan and South Korea.

In the “Cryptocurrency Anti-Money Laundering Report, 2018 Q4”, it is stated that out of the funds either stolen through hack or scams, about USD 950 million came from cyber attacks on Bitcoin exchanges. The remainder came from a range of criminal activity such as ICO exit scams, Ponzi schemes, and mobile phone sim swaps.

Last year started badly in Asia, with Tokyo-based Coincheck’s USD 500 million hack, followed by Bithumb and Zaif then falling foul to hacking. With numbers on the increase, representing a seven-times hike over a period of two years since 2016, the report expresses the need for tighter regulation. Investors in Vietnam also lost about USD 35 million to the Sky Mining scam in 2018, adding to Asia’s woes.

Both South Korea and Japan have since made a concerted effort to tighten security, with both countries now introducing self-regulation. Japan’s cryptocurrency industry self-regulators, the Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association (JVCEA), was approved by the national Financial Services Agency (FSA) to be officially recognized in its regulatory position late in 2018. This was a direct result of the Coincheck hack of the same year.

South Korea, after its CoinRail hack in June last year, has joined other Asian nations who are currently in the process of regulating their own financial banking strategies regarding blockchain and cryptocurrency in order to protect exchange clients.

The report, in indicating the need for closer regulation, suggested that bone fide operators need to be able to operate untarnished by “bad actors” who are not part of the legitimate cryptocurrency community. The report stated:

“These bad actors are clearly flocking to jurisdictions with weak AML and Know Your Customer (KYC) regimes, because in our Q3 report we published the results of research showing 97% of criminal Bitcoin flows into unregulated cryptocurrency exchanges.”

 

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Manila Residents Paid ETH for Consensys-Backed Beach Cleanup

beach cleanup

Manila residents are being paid in Ether for cleaning up the city’s plastic-ridden beaches in a new crypto for work project in the Philippine capital.

Recent research has shown that that five Asian countries — China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand — account for more than 55% of global plastic waste leaking into the ocean. Indonesia, currently participating in a number of blockchain programs, is also a significant contributor to ocean pollution.

Manila’s beaches are listed as being some of the most heavily polluted beaches among these nations. Residents now have the chance to do something about this and be rewarded with cryptocurrency in the process. Stirring this social conscience is Ethereum’s co-founder Joe Lubin, who is also CEO of blockchain software giant ConsenSys.

He commented, “In Manila, participants will be paid in ETH for spending a few hours cleaning up one of the most heavily polluted beaches in the world. Bounties Network and ConsenSys Impact are proving a new model where people fund causes directly without intermediaries.”

Beach cleaning participants will be able to use a decentralized application (Dapp) based on the Ethereum blockchain to receive their rewards in ETH. The project is part of a larger ConsenSys program called ‘Bounties for the Oceans: Philippines Pilot – Sustained, Verifiable Plastic Cleanups’. The initiative states:

“Plastic pollution costs the lives of 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals per year… With Bounties for the Ocean, we are asking people everywhere to submit verifiable proof of their direct plastic cleanup contribution as a way of fostering widespread and long-term behavioral shift. Do not depend on centralized organizations, go out there and do it yourselves.”

Manila residents are not the only ones “doing it for themselves”. There are a number of blockchain programs around the world at the moment which are making a significant contribution to fighting pollution.

US cleaning supplies firm SC Johnson has announced that it plans to launch blockchain rewards-based recycling centers in Indonesia to help solve the problem of plastic pollution. The company, which also which owns such brands as Glade, Ziploc and Mr Muscle, will open eight centers with the support of Plastic Bank using a tokens-for-waste payment system for local users.

A Norwegian startup has come up with a way of using blockchain to clean beaches via token rewards for recycling. The public, by removing plastic waste to any certified recycling station, is rewarded with waste tokens. The idea draws on a system that has been in operation for some time throughout Norway where plastic bottles can be returned to shops for between 15 and 30 cents a bottle.

The Philippines project is well placed given the country’s adoption of Bitcoin and Ethereum as legitimate forms of payment by the central bank, with local platform Coins.ph conducting business using partnerships with major commercial banks, remittance outlets, credit card companies, electric grid operators, and convenience stores,

Having become the largest platform in Southeast Asia, Coins.ph has over 5 million users.

 

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Vietnam Report Prompts Government Action on Crypto Regulation

A new report in Vietnam on current cryptocurrency regulation and practice has recommended changes to current legislation.

The report, compiled by Hanoi’s Ministry of Justice, has given the government food for thought, including bringing Vietnamese rules on digital currencies in line with other countries overseas where cryptocurrency is more firmly established.

Vietnam has certainly had its teething problems in relation to cryptocurrency trading and adoption through Bitcoin’s rise, with some notable scams and Ponzi schemes over past years, resulting in losses for investors and investigations into ICOs by government authorities. Cryptocurrency is currently not viewed as legal tender and banks have warned against its use.

Reuters claims to have seen a copy of Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc’s directive instructing the State Bank of Vietnam to cease allowing financial services that relate to cryptocurrency. The directive included measures to counter money laundering and terrorist activity through cryptocurrency.

The announcement that the government is to build an appropriate legal framework for cryptocurrencies is not a new one; calls for the same were made in 2017 and again after investigations into fraudulent ICOs were carried out in April of this year. By referring back to policies employed by other jurisdictions, the Vietnamese Ministry of Justice was able to explore the options for a framework, such as either implementing a flexible regulatory system, completely prohibiting the use of digital currency, or legalizing the use of cryptocurrency under certain conditions.

Nguyen Than Tu, director of Department of Civil and Economic Laws, has asserted that in analyzing the pros and cons of developing a digital currency environment, both risk and potential are elements which need to be carefully balanced before investors and business can benefit from blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

Reports indicate that 1% of Vietnamese use cryptocurrencies but this estimate has to be balanced with the 15,600 cryptocurrency mining machines imported into Vietnam since 2017, most of which were trackable rigs, not those which slipped under the government radar. Most of the mining rigs went to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang.

Prime Minister Nguyễn has now instructed the relevant government agencies to go ahead with preparing a draft for the country’s first legal digital currency framework. It remains to be seen if, and when, this eventuates.

 

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US Firm Chooses Token-Based Solution to Clean Up Indonesia’s Plastic Waste

US Cleaning Supplies Firm SC Johnson has announced that it plans to launch blockchain rewards-based recycling centers in Indonesia to help solve the problem of plastic pollution.

The company, which also which owns such brands as Glade, Ziploc and Mr Muscle, will open eight centers with the support of Plastic Bank using a tokens-for-waste payment system for local users.

Plastic Bank was the featured in the award-winning documentary A Plastic Ocean. They received the prestigious Sustainia Community Award at COP21, the Beacon For Change Award at COP23, the RCBC Innovation Award. Recently, their new blockchain exchange and incentives platform received an IBM Beacon Award.

Recent research has shown that that five Asian countries — China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand — account for more than 55% of the plastic waste leaking into the ocean. Indonesia, currently participating in a number of blockchain programmes, is also a significant contributor to ocean pollution.

The first disposal center opened this week on 28 October on the Indonesian Island of Bali. They allow users to exchange plastic waste for digital tokens which can then be used to purchase goods and services. SC Johnson suggested that the risk of loss or theft of funds will be limited due to the tokens being supported by blockchain.

The founder of Plastic Bank, David Katz, suggests that blockchain is the tool that can combat ocean pollution with such innovations, and the new project could also reduce poverty in Indonesia. Another decentralized program, in this case run by the UN, has had huge success in Jordan over the past two years as the UN Women program continues to offer incentives to refugees using a blockchain salary system.

A Norwegian company has recently come up with its own way of freeing the oceans of plastic waste with a similar tokens program. The project launched by Empower enables the public to remove plastic waste to any certified recycling station and be rewarded with waste tokens.

The idea draws on a system that has been in operation for some time throughout Norway where plastic bottles can be returned to shops for between 15 and 30 cents a bottle. There are also other incentives through the system for both users and manufacturers, the latter with an environmental tax exemption based on waste quotas.

 

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Vietnam Telecom Firm Launches Blockchain Powered Database for Hospitals

Vietnam’s largest telecom company has claimed to have produced a blockchain filing system that will revolutionize medical care in that country.

The country, one of South East Asia’s sleeping tigers is hoping that blockchain can lift its fintech stature with the latest innovation designed for use in the healthcare sector.

Viettel Enterprise Solutions Corporation, a company that aspires to become Vietnam’s leader in blockchain technology, has come up with the blockchain solution for medical file management which is designed to reduce administrative costs. Viettel’s Deputy General Director Ngô Vĩnh Quý, explains that the company is fully prepared for embracing new streamlining technologies such as DLT:

“Viettel has the financial resources, human resources, network infrastructure, huge data centre, research and development facilities, large internal environment, and other advantages to learn and apply blockchain technology.”

Phạm Ngọc Sơn, director of the Core-technology Centre, is quoted suggesting that hospitals connecting to Viettel’s database could save the government huge amounts of money, arguing, “Every year Vietnam spends VNĐ2.3 – 2.5 trillion (US$100 -110 million) for patients to do medical tests again when they move from one hospital to another.”

The new system is not limited to connecting hospitals to a blockchain backed database, but also to other departments such as the Ministry of Health, provincial health departments, and medical insurance companies.

The blockchain/crypto space in Vietnam has had a chequered time over the past year with mining scandals and fraudulent ICOs leaving investors with huge losses of funds. Last year, Vietnam announced that it was considering a legal framework for the management of cryptocurrencies due to their increased popularity in the country. These moves have been reflected in other Asian countries in order to alleviate the risks of fraud.

Recently Reuters reported that Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc had instructed the State Bank of Vietnam to cease allowing financial services that relate to cryptocurrency. The directive included measures to counter money laundering and counter terrorist activity through cryptocurrency.

What the country now needs to see is successful blockchain solutions introduced into areas where Vietnam needs it most: this latest move may be a good start on the road to improving new technologies image in the country.

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Vietnamese Crypto Mining Farm Found Abandoned, Investors Missing $35M

The CEO of Vietnam-based cryptocurrency mining farm Sky Mining has reportedly absconded, leaving investors USD 35 million short.

Investors found an abandoned premises

The Sky Mining business structure offered people the chance to buy shares in the cryptocurrency mining hardware and collect a percentage of the profits. It advertised these profits at 300% in one year for a one-time payment between USD 100 and USD 5,000, as well as private use of a mining device for 15 to 18 months.

When the investors were told they may pick up their mining equipment from the business’s registered location, they instead found empty, closed premises. Upon further investigation, Sky Mining’s Phu Nhuan District office was also found abandoned.

CEO, Le Minh Tam, has been AWOL since Thursday; 5,000 investors are faced with losing an estimated total of USD 35 million.

No good news for investors

Local media outlet Thanh Nien published a letter reportedly from Tam who claimed his mining venture was no longer profitable and he was forced to sell the equipment to cover his losses, then run in fear for his life. In a new addition to the saga, Saturday he posted a Telegram chat video where he claimed he would return and restore the business to profitability.

Deputy chairman of Sky Mining Le Minh Hieu attempted to control the chaos by forming a board of 16 participants but was forced to disperse the group when he and his family became subject to death threats from angry investors. Hieu said that he too was a victim of Tam’s scam and has reported the threats to the police.

He said that he assumed Tam had retreated to the US with the investors’ money, noting that Tam most likely succeeded in his endeavor because he was responsible for directly managing the goings on of the mining equipment.

As of Monday, 20 investors have signed a joint complaint with the police department, with one investor taking her complaint to court after allegedly loosing approximately USD 269,000. Unfortunately, Vo Do Thang, Director of the Athena Network Security Training Center told VNexpress they had next to no chance of seeing their money returned.

 

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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 1st to 7th June 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.

Asia

Japan

Fujitsu starts blockchain-based reward points system: Japanese tech company Fujitsu has successfully rolled out a new blockchain-based system for its promotional campaigns like reward points and discount coupons according to a press release issued by the company last Wednesday.

According to the company, the system is going to be deployed across Japan to create awareness among merchants regarding its rewards program and how the promotional activities can be based on blockchain technology.

South Korea

Crypto margin trading to be treated as illegal gambling: The Cyber Crime Division of the South Korea government has declared that margin trading service in cryptocurrency exchanges that are on offer on most systems is equivalent to illegal gambling. The move comes after three Coinone executives involved in margin trading were reportedly close to being arrested because of margin trading.

The groundbreaking announcement was announced after problems arose in the margin trading business of Coinone, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea. In the exchange, users could borrow as much four times as their deposits in the cryptocurrency exchange and could make money or lose some depending on the behavior of the markets.

Supreme Court rules crypto as assets: In a groundbreaking move, the Supreme Court of South Korea has overturned the decision of a lower court and declared that Bitcoin is a recognizable asset. 

The move came after a notorious case last year in which a 33-year-old child pornography suspect was found to have BTC 216 but the government couldn’t confiscate them because the law didn’t recognize them as “tangible assets”.

Vietnam

Government calls for crypto mining equipment ban: The Vietnamese finance ministry has announced that it is proposing banning cryptocurrency mining equipment imports in the country according to government sources.

The latest proposal is seen as a step towards a blanket cryptocurrency ban in the country as the country treats all non-cash payments as illegal and Bitcoin is not yet recognized as cash.

Indonesia

Supervisory board signals green light for Bitcoin futures: The country’s top securities regulator Indonesian Futures Exchange Supervisory Board (Bappebti) has finally designated cryptocurrencies as commodities and they are now available for trading in the future exchange according to latest reports from Coindesk.

The Bappebti was formed in 2005 to regulate the financial market in Indonesia. Jakarta Post posted the news that the governmental commission after an extensive four-month study cleared the way for Bitcoin futures trading in the country.

Philippines

Government looking to blockchain for tax collection: The Philippines department of finance is looking towards blockchain technology for improving tax collection and business improvement initiatives according to latest reports from the Pacific nation.

Paolo Alvarez, the DOF spokesperson said:

“Yes, of course, we are open to exploring blockchain. Secretary (Carlos) Dominguez is really pushing for the application of financial technology. He wants to harness fintech to improve business, for example, payment of taxes online.”

While this is vague, it may be seen as a positive development towards pursuing blockchain-based solutions.

China

Blockchain “checks” to combat fraud being developed by China central bank: Digital Currency Research Lab by Di Gang in People’s Bank of China has announced that is going to use a system capable of issuing blockchain-based checks to combat check-related frauds in the Chinese market.

The tech was the result of a year-long effort initiated by the Chinese government to decrease fraud in the country’s sprawling fintech setup. The country has been suffering from check-related fraud for some time because of a large number of intermediaries that issue checks and it is difficult to legitimize the entire operation.

State TV claims blockchain 10 times more valuable than internet: The Chinese government is banking a lot on the success and application of blockchain technology with the state-run CCTV channel saying that blockchain could be “ten times as valuable” than the internet.

In an hour-long panel in Chinese language by host Chen Weihong, the panelists, including private and public blockchain innovators, termed the technology as exciting and futuristic that will have a lot of worth in the future.

Baidu develops ‘SuperChain’: Baidu has announced the successful development of a new blockchain protocol called SuperChain. The protocol will allow diverse applications of the technology in the future.

Baidu has been at the forefront of the blockchain revolution in the country. It is one of the most popular platforms in the world as 76% of Chinese searches taking place through its search engine rather than Google.

Brunei

Bitcoin as valuable as world’s most valuable currency, Brunei’s 10,000 dollar note: Brunei Darussalam is one of the richest countries in the world according to state wealth and as of right now with Bitcoin hovering around USD 7,420, the cryptocurrency’s unit worth is just about the same as the most expensive currency note: the 10,000 Brunei dollar bill issued first back in December 2006.

While Bitcoin has seen better days, even now the biggest cryptocurrency in the world is equal to the most expensive currency note. The total market cap is, however, less than the tiny East Asian nation’s riches.

Australia

Company loses $6.6 million in crypto: Australian company Byte Power Party has lost over USD 6.6 million worth of cryptocurrencies when a Singapore-based company Soar Labs tried to invest in it without actually paying for it.

The bizarre incident occurred when Soar Labs was found to have a backdoor in its contracts and reportedly froze the coins it had paid to the Byte Power company in exchange for buying 49% of their stake. When Byte Power started selling their coins, Soar found out and stopped the process through the backdoor. Soar will likely be facing criminal charges in the backdrop of this incident.

 

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Vietnam Calls for Crypto Mining Equipment Import Ban

Vietnam’s ministry of finance has made an official proposal to ban the import of cryptocurrency mining equipment. This is another step towards a total ban of cryptocurrency activity in Vietnam, which is what the government is pushing for. Any non-cash payments are illegal in Vietnam according to Decree 101 and, therefore, all cryptocurrency payments are illegal.

The ministry argues that at this point cryptocurrency mining machines are not on the list of specialized management or unsafe goods, so individuals and companies can easily import them. This makes the use of cryptocurrency mining equipment difficult for the ministry to manage.

Once mining machines are successfully imported into Vietnam, it is easy for people to accumulate cryptocurrency and begin using it as a currency, breaking the law. Therefore, in order to uphold the law the government needs cryptocurrency mining imports to be banned.

Since 2017, 15,600 cryptocurrency mining machines were imported into Vietnam, and this is only machines that the government was able to track and not all the other machines that came in under the radar. Most of the mining rigs went to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang.

Vietnam’s tightening stranglehold on cryptocurrency has been strengthened by two initial coin offering (ICO) scams, Pincoin and Ifan, that defrauded investors out of USD 660 million. The police chief of Ho Chi Minh City stated that all cryptocurrency activity is illegal following the incident, and the Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc, signed a directive ordering the Central Bank of Vietnam to not facilitate any cryptocurrency related transactions.

The Vietnamese ministry of finance references these ICO scams as a direct reason why cryptocurrency mining equipment must be banned so that further cryptocurrency scams don’t take place.

Banning cryptocurrency mining equipment is easier said than done. A lot of cryptocurrency miners use high-performance graphics processing units (GPUs), which are needed by people who play video games and probably won’t be banned since so many people need them. When it comes down to it any computer can mine cryptocurrency, albeit usually slowly.

It is possible to ban imports of application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) which are the most specialized and powerful mining machines that don’t have any other practical uses besides cryptocurrency mining. However, when it comes down to it the chips could be imported with no machine surrounding it, and these chips would be indistinguishable from any other computer chip. Therefore, someone in Vietnam who is dead set on mining could import the ASIC chips and build their own machines around it.

The only true way to ban cryptocurrency mining and cryptocurrency transactions is to outlaw all computer use. Even in a country like Vietnam where cryptocurrency is completely illegal, it may still thrive due to its decentralized nature.

 

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