It is a great week for India’s cryptocurrency market after the Supreme Court reversed the central bank’s ban on virtual currency trading. While the ruling is not an endorsement for the young industry, it brings a sigh of relief to traders who can now easily cash in or cash out their digital wealth.
There has been a close relationship between Japan and the U.S, with companies from the Asian country investing in America’s crypto businesses or launching new ones.
Two Chinese nationals have been charged in the U.S. for laundering money stolen by North Korean hackers from cryptocurrency exchanges. Read this and more in the weekly round-up of the top stories in Asia’s crypto scene.
India’s Supreme Court lifts ban on cryptocurrency trading
India’s crypto community celebrates a historic victory after the Supreme Court lifted the ban on cryptocurrency trading. The country’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) banned cryptocurrencies in 2018.
The three-judge panel said the central bank’s ban was unconstitutional and ‘disproportionate.’
In a circular issued on April 6, 2018, the central bank instructed all entities under its oversight to stop dealing or providing services to individuals or entities dealing with virtual currencies. Regulated entities providing services to cryptocurrency individuals or entities were given three months to enforce the ban.
The Internet and Mobile Association of India, representing various cryptocurrency exchanges, contested the ban and argued that crypto trading was legitimate since there was no law banning it.
The new court order is simply a ruling but does not imply the central bank has changed its heart or position. Last year, the government proposed a 10-year prison sentence to anyone found holding cryptocurrencies.
The legal framework for cryptocurrencies is still yet to be drafted in India and this ruling is not an endorsement for the nascent industry.
Interestingly, India is considering establishing National Strategy on Blockchain, which among other things, will look into the feasibility of issuing a Central Bank Digital Rupee (CBDR).
Chinese Nationals busted for laundering $100 million in stolen crypto
The U.S. has charged two Chinese nationals with laundering cryptocurrency worth more than $100 million. The Chinese nationals – Li Jiadong and Tian Yinyin – face several charges including money laundering and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, the VOA reported on March 2.
The U.S. authorities allege that the suspects laundered the money stolen by North Korean hackers from cryptocurrency exchanges. The hackers stole about $250 million from a virtual exchange in 2018 and struck again in 2018 with a $50 million heist at a South Korean exchange.
North Korea has been fingered in illicit activities involving cryptocurrency hacking and the use of virtual assets to evade sanctions.
The U.S. prosecutors have set in a motion a lawsuit in a Washington federal court to gain control of the 113 virtual currency accounts controlled by the suspects and their accomplices.
The pair ran a virtual currency transmission business in the U.S. without a license from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
Commenting on the matter, Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski said via a statement: “Today’s actions underscore that the [Justice] Department will pierce the veil of anonymity provided by cryptocurrencies to hold criminals accountable, no matter where they are located.”
Japanese marketing firm Ceres invests in U.S.-based cryptocurrency hedge fund
Japanese marketing firm Ceres has invested an undisclosed amount of money in Pantera Capital, a U.S.-based blockchain and cryptocurrency hedge fund. Ceres announced the investment via a blog post published on its website on Feb. 28.
After seeing the potential in cryptocurrencies, Pantera became the first U.S. crypto fund and raised $13 million in its initial offering in 2013. The fund raised a further $25 million in its second funding round.
Pantera has invested in several crypto businesses and ICO tokens including Bitstamp, Brave, Circle, Kyber, Ripple, and Ox among others.
As for Ceres, this is not it’s first into the growing crypto industry. The company is investing in Japanese crypto exchange Xtheta.
The marketing company also runs a rewards and token service called Moppy. With more than 7 million users in its home country, the service provides a system for redeeming accumulated points in either cash or digital currency.
Japan’s LINE Corporation targets the U.S. market with the launch of crypto exchange BITFRONT
Japanese messaging giant LINE announced on its website that it is expanding its trail in the emerging crypto industry by launching a global virtual exchange dubbed BITFRONT.
The new exchange will be based in the United States where it will be operated by LVC USA, a division of LINE Corporation.
LINE operated the Singapore-based crypto-to-crypto exchange BITBOX. Through BITFRONT, LINE has gone all-in by launching fiat-to-crypto markets.
The new exchange will initially support five currencies; namely bitcoin, ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, stablecoin Tether, and LINE’s token LINK. The LINK digital currency can be traded against bitcoin and Tether in the United States.
LINE CEO Youngsu Ko sees this as a major leap forward that will help increase blockchain and cryptocurrency awareness.
“This is a major leap toward achieving the mass adoption of blockchain. As the most trusted global digital currency exchange, we will continue to make blockchain and cryptocurrency more accessible to our users,” said Ko.
Japan’s financial giant SBI boss could potentially launch an STO exchange
Yoshitaka Kitao, the CEO of Japan’s financial giant SBI Holdings has shown interest in co-launching a security token offering (STO) platform in the current financial year.
According to reports, the Ripple SBI chief (who also happens to sit on Ripple’s board) has held ‘talks’ with the Japan Security Token Offering Association (JSTOA) members about launching the exchange platform.
Some of the JSTOA’s members include the Monex Group (the financial giant that bought Coincheck exchange in 2018) and Rakuten (Japan’s Amazon).
Kitao is planning to receive regulatory approval from the country’s financial watchdog, the Financial Services Agency (FSA), which has regulatory oversight of the cryptocurrency industry.
Cryptocurrency now officially legal in South Korea
Adding to a great week for crypto was the news that South Korea has made cryptocurrency officially legal in the country. Crypto was not illegal prior to this news but it was not officially legal either. This moves the industry significantly in the right direction.
All parties engaging in the cryptocurrency industry must be fully compliant by September 2021. Without official rules, South Korean exchanges have been self-governing. The main issue they have been facing is turning crypto into fiat. With clear guidelines, businesses can operate properly without fear of being penalized.
We reached out to Brian Newar from TheNews.Asia located in South Korea for comment on what this means for the industry, “This means far more legitimacy for the cryptocurrency trading and blockchain development industries in South Korea. It also means taxes are sure to follow and may be applied as early as next year.”
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