hong kong finance

Crypto Weekly News: BoJ Not Ready for National Digital Currency, Blockchain Takes Over Hong Kong’s Fintech Sector

六月 12, 2020

It was another interesting week in the crypto universe. Japan is still not convinced that it needs a national digital currency while Chinese police in Guangdong are freezing bank accounts of crypto traders. Hong Kong’s financial technology sector is led by blockchain and a Japanese homebuilder has turned to the distributed ledger technology for rental contracts.

This and more in this week’s edition of crypto tidbits.

Bitfury Introduces Digital Currency Fund for Portfolio Diversification in Japan

Blockchain services company Bitfury announced a joint venture with Nippon Angel Investment Company (NAIC) to launch a new digital currency infrastructure fund. 

The fund enables both institutional and retail investors to diversify their portfolios into digital currencies. NAIC is a fund manager licensed and regulated by the Japan Financial Services Agency (FSA), the country’s financial watchdog.

The announcement points out that the fund manager completed due diligence on Bitfury as a feasible investment partner. Bitfury claims that institutional capital was reluctant to enter the digital currency infrastructure due to a lack of proper vehicles.

Bitfury founder and CEO Valery Vavilov said the investment will lead to further adoption of digital assets because the infrastructure is getting more secure. 

“We are looking forward to bringing this diverse investment route to investors in Japan,” said Vavilov.

Japan Central Bank Shelves Plans to Launch State-backed Digital Currency

The Bank of Japan (BoJ), the country’s central bank has confirmed once again that it is not interested in issuing a state-backed digital currency. Other central banks such as the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) is working on a national digital currency project.

However, the BoJ said it will keep with the innovations taking place in the digital currency private sector. The central bank is echoing the sentiments expressed by its Deputy Governor  Masayoshi Amamiya, who in January this year, said the entity will not issue a national digital currency unless certain factors are first scrutinized.

Back in 2018, the Deputy Governor said a national digital currency presented a threat to the financial systems used in developed countries.

The latest remarks come shortly after local cryptocurrency exchange DeCurret began leading a study group consisting of three major banks and non-financial companies looking into the development of a national digital settlement infrastructure.

China Cracks Down on Crypto Traders’ Bank Accounts

Thousands of bank accounts belonging to Chineses cryptocurrency traders have been frozen by the police in an operation to crack down on illicit activities. 

The police in Guangdong province has frozen bank accounts of over-the-counter (OTC) crypto traders. The crypto media 8btc reported that more than 4,000 such accounts have been frozen on suspicion of money laundering among other suspected nefarious financial activities.

The freezing of crypto traders’ bank accounts is part of wider efforts to crack down gambling and telecom fraud. Even accounts with no trading activities for several months have not been spared from being frozen. The Chinese authorities have pointed the stablecoin Tether (USDT) as the main vehicle used in illicit activities.

The police are learning how to trace digital assets.

The authorities will investigate all frozen bank accounts and if they find no evidence of wrongdoing, the bank accounts will be restored to normalcy.

China has maintained a hostile stance on cryptocurrency trading since banning exchanges in September 2017. Due to the ban, a number of Chinese traders have turned to OTC trading to exchange digital assets for the yuan.

Japanese Homebuilder Turns to Blockchain for Rental Housing Contracts

Sekisui House, a Japanese home builder is making the necessary arrangements to put some contracts of rental homes on the blockchain.

The home building firm made the announcement and further pointed out that apart from putting rental contracts on the blockchain, it would use the technology to cover gas and electricity. However, these measures will go into effect no later than March next year.

When the project is up and running, users will be able to register their phone numbers and addresses to go into a property without the need for a real estate agent.

One of the major selling points of blockchain is its ability to eliminate the middlemen, hence reducing the cost of many services.

A blockchain is a distributed ledger in which data is publicly stored and cannot be stored unless if someone owns more than 50 percent of the network computing power. This is theoretically impossible to do.

Blockchain Dominates Hong Kong’s Fintech Sector

Blockchain firms are increasingly becoming a dominant force in Hong Kong’s financial technology sector. 39 percent of new firms that launched last year are working with distributed ledger technology (DLT).

According to Hong Kong’s Financial Services and Treasury Bureau, DLT firms grew from 27 percent as of 2018.

Enterprise DLT was highlighted as the largest sub-sector of the blockchain industry, providing 45 percent of Hong Kong’s DLT firms.

The report further said that blockchain, artificial intelligence, big data, and cloud are the new stack of technologies providing a shift in Hong Kong’s virtual banking sector.

Hong Kong is a major financial hub and is ranked sixteen the Global Financial Centres Index. It also has the biggest number of skyscrapers than any other city in the whole world.

Algorand Foundation Launches Algorand Asia Accelerator in Part

Algorand Foundation, the organization which administrates the proof-of-stake Algorand blockchain announced in a press statement that it has launched the Algorand Asia Accelerator in association with Borderless Capital, an Algorand-focussed venture fund.

The Algorand Asia Accelerator is powered by LongHash Ventures. The aim of the accelerator is to foster blockchain development and financial innovations in the Algorand ecosystem and empower projects to build and grow.

Each selected project will receive $15,000 upfront in seed funding and a possible $250,000 in follow-up funding.

 “Innovation is a collaborative journey. Along with our latest grant program, which aims to distribute more than USD $60M to build a vibrant ecosystem, Algorand is consistently supporting some of the most promising minds in the industry,” said Algorand Foundation Chief Operating Officer Fangfeng Chen. 

The Algorand Foundation has raised $122 million since 2018 with $62 million coming from a 2018 equity raise. Some of the foundation’s notable investors include Union Square Ventures, Pillar VC, and Polybius Capital.

“Algorand Asia Accelerator is the natural culmination of our efforts, in particular, refining our focus on Finance 3.0 to realize the promise of a truly borderless economy”, Chen added.

The application process is now open and will close on 16 August this year.

Singapore Experiences Spike in Attempts to Hijack Computers for Crypto Mining

Russian-based security firm Kasperksy says that digital hackers are taking control of other people’s computers to mine for cryptocurrency. The security firm said that Singapore recorded a spike in cryptojacking in the first quarter of 2020.

Kaspersky said that it blocked more than 11,700 cryptojacking attempts on devices based in Singapore. The attempts rose threefold from 2,900 in the same period last year.

The security company said that Singapore recorded the highest percentage increase in South-east Asia. Singapore has become a hotbed for cryptojackers because of its healthy IT infrastructure and fast internet speed.

Cryptojacking is the act of using someone else’s computer without authorization to mine for cryptocurrency.

“Cybercriminals use various means to install miner programs on other people’s computers, preferably in bulk, and take all of the profit from cryptocurrency mining without incurring any of the equipment or electricity costs,” said Yeo Siang Tiong, general manager for South-east Asia at Kaspersky.

South Korea’s Coinone Cryptocurrency Exchange List Kakao’s Token

South Korean tech giant Kakao blockchain-issued Klay (KLAY) token has been listed on Coinone, one of the country’s leading cryptocurrency exchange. The token was listed on 5 June following the launch of Kakao’s wallet a week earlier.

A report from Tech M indicates that Kakao reached an agreement with Coinone to list Klay token after the former registered over 100,000 users. The Klay token is now paired against the South Korean Won and the pair is now trading live.

This is a significant move taken by the tech giant given that initial coin offerings (ICOs) are outlawed in South Korea. This ban forced Kakao to list its token on Upbit’s Singapore and Indonesia branches.

South Korea’s stance on ICOs has forced several local companies to seek listing on foreign exchanges.

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