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Major Japanese Fintech Company Reveals Plans to Launch Crypto Exchange This Year

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The operator of one of Japan’s most popular personal budgeting apps Money Forward has announced its plans to launch a crypto asset exchange this year.

Money Forward Inc., the operator of one of Japan’s most popular personal budgeting apps, has announced its plans to launch a crypto asset exchange this year, in a company press release Wednesday, May 23.

A new subsidiary, MF Financial Co., Ltd., that launched today will be devoted to the company’s new crypto exchange project, and will be headed by a member of Money Forward’s Blockchain and Virtual Currency Laboratory.

The press release outlines MF’s plans to first launch a crypto media platform by summer 2018, followed by a crypto asset exchange and the construction of a digital assets remittance and settlement system, which the MF Laboratory has been researching since December 2017.

As of late 2017, the Tokyo-based company reportedly has 5.5 mln users, with over 500,000 Japanese businesses and 2,400 accounting firms using its cloud-based software for their tax accounting and invoices.

The company today also announced improved tools for its customers who currently use cryptocurrencies, providing them with an automated crypto accounts book that can be supported with data from twenty domestic and foreign crypto exchanges. The new tools also simplify users’ crypto tax return filings, by giving them an automated profit and loss calculation tool for their transaction histories.

Major Japanese financial institutions are increasingly making inroads in facilitating the country’s booming cryptocurrency sector. Just yesterday, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), the world’s fifth largest bank by total assets, successfully piloted a cross-border payment using a Thai bank’s Blockchain Interledger.

In the past two weeks, MUFG has also revealed that it is partnering with a US cloud delivery platform to launch a blockchain-based global payment network, as well as announcing plans to trial its own cryptocurrency by 2019. Meanwhile, Japan-based global investment bank Nomura last week announced its venture to establish a custodian solution for digital assets, targeting institutional investment in the crypto space.

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Major Japanese Fintech Company Reveals Plans to Launch Crypto Exchange This Year

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The operator of one of Japan’s most popular personal budgeting apps Money Forward has announced its plans to launch a crypto asset exchange this year.

Money Forward Inc., the operator of one of Japan’s most popular personal budgeting apps, has announced its plans to launch a crypto asset exchange this year, in a company press release Wednesday, May 23.

A new subsidiary, MF Financial Co., Ltd., that launched today will be devoted to the company’s new crypto exchange project, and will be headed by a member of Money Forward’s Blockchain and Virtual Currency Laboratory.

The press release outlines MF’s plans to first launch a crypto media platform by summer 2018, followed by a crypto asset exchange and the construction of a digital assets remittance and settlement system, which the MF Laboratory has been researching since December 2017.

As of late 2017, the Tokyo-based company reportedly has 5.5 mln users, with over 500,000 Japanese businesses and 2,400 accounting firms using its cloud-based software for their tax accounting and invoices.

The company today also announced improved tools for its customers who currently use cryptocurrencies, providing them with an automated crypto accounts book that can be supported with data from twenty domestic and foreign crypto exchanges. The new tools also simplify users’ crypto tax return filings, by giving them an automated profit and loss calculation tool for their transaction histories.

Major Japanese financial institutions are increasingly making inroads in facilitating the country’s booming cryptocurrency sector. Just yesterday, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), the world’s fifth largest bank by total assets, successfully piloted a cross-border payment using a Thai bank’s Blockchain Interledger.

In the past two weeks, MUFG has also revealed that it is partnering with a US cloud delivery platform to launch a blockchain-based global payment network, as well as announcing plans to trial its own cryptocurrency by 2019. Meanwhile, Japan-based global investment bank Nomura last week announced its venture to establish a custodian solution for digital assets, targeting institutional investment in the crypto space.

LMAX Crypto Bull Rally Soon | Verge Dead? | $SKY $ZEN

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Cryptocurrency News Daily with Crypto Love. Today: John McAfee says the cryptocurrency bull rally is near. LMAX launches institutional cryptocurrency exchange, might realize McAfee's expected bull force. BTC – when moon? Verge loses $1.7 million as hackers double down on vulnerabilities. PornHub transactions are being reversed, Litecoin founder talks tough on Verge. Google courts Ethereum […]

AI-Based Youtube Bitcoin Explainer Trained By Real BTC Guides Gets It All Wrong

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A purposefully nonsensical AI explainer for Bitcoin explains the currency through an amalgamation of a variety of real Bitcoin explainers.

An AI compilation published on Youtube Tuesday that used pre-existing Bitcoin (BTC) explainers to come up with its own “basic stage training” on Bitcoin has resulted in almost complete nonsense, Mashable reports May 22.

Created by Botnik Studios, which describes itself on Twitter as a “human-machine creative force,” the Youtube video is a voice over of the texts generated by an AI that used “predictive keyboard trained on dozens of Bitcoin explainers.”

In order to introduce the viewer to the coin, the video first explains that “Bitcoin is the most valuable form of electricity.” The AI explainer then teaches the viewer exactly how Bitcoin transactions work according to its generated text:

“Randomly pick a number between one and 30,000. Now spend that amount of money on Ethereum. This is known as hashing the code to get some of that Bitcoin.”

The video also touches on the topic of blockchain, which a user can gain access to by installing “exploit.bin, and it will remind you every day of your biggest nightmares.”

Having Bitcoin - whose most popular form is the “Wild Richard” which can be used to pay for “counterfeit coffee” - is described as having advantages despite its risks:

“One benefit of Bitcoin is that you can upload a version of your future self on the darknet, but it will kill your retirement account, because it is over 1,000 years old.”

The video ends with two warnings to all viewers, the first being that the “safest way to protect your Bitcoin wallet is simply to lose it,” and the second touching on a more personal subject:

“Caution: the last time I mined a fresh Bitcoin, billionaire killer Mark February tried to patent my life.”

Cointelegraph has its own series of explainers that were not created with AI, including ones on Bitcoin, Bitcoin mining, blockchain, and crypto wallets.

South Africa: Gang Kidnaps 13 Year Old Boy, Demands Ransom of 15 Bitcoins

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The kidnappers of a 13-year-old boy in South Africa have demanded a “non-negotiable” ransom of 15 BTC, worth around $120,000.

The kidnappers of a 13-year-old boy in South Africa have demanded a ransom of 15 bitcoins (BTC) - around $120,000 - for his release, The Guardian reported Tuesday, May 22.

Local police stated that on Sunday, May 20, three gang members pulled up in a car near to where the teenager, Kathlego Marite, was playing with two friends close to his home in the town of Witbank. Witnesses said the men dragged him into the vehicle, leaving their ransom note at the scene. The “non-negotiable” note reportedly threatens to kill the boy if the demands are not met, with the first deadline for payment passing on Monday.

Local media quoted Brigadier Leonard Hlathi as saying that the family is “going through trauma”:

"They don’t even know what this Bitcoin is. They’re devastated and you can see they’re worried and asking themselves, 'where’s our son?'"

The Guardian reports that the case is the first ransom demand for cryptocurrency in the country’s history.

Late last year, Pavel Lerner, the managing director of crypto exchange EXMO was released after a $1 mln ransom in Bitcoin was paid to a gang who had abducted him while he was leaving his office in Kiev, Ukraine. That same month, the perpetrator of an attempted package bombing in Germany sent a note via DHL demanding a €10 mln ransom to be paid in Bitcoin.

Bitcoin has also allegedly been an increasingly popular form of ransom demanded by cybercriminals, with widespread fears of the high-profile WannaCry ransomware causing companies globally to “stockpile” the cryptocurrency preemptively last year.

Chinese Prosecutors Charge Final Suspects In $2.3 Bln OneCoin Investigation

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A Chinese county procuratorate has prosecuted the last four suspects reportedly involved in ponzi scheme OneCoin.

The last four suspects in a two year case against alleged pyramid scheme OneCoin have been prosecuted in China’s Hunan Province, government-supported local news source the Justice Network reports Wednesday, May 23.

The Zhuzhou Country Procuratorate of the Hunan Province examined 106 people, publicly prosecuted 98, and recovered around 1.7 bln yuan (around $266 mln) from over 20 provinces across China in the course of the case. Those prosecuted have received up to 10,000  - 5 mln yuan in fines (about $1,500 - $782,000) as well as four years or less of prison time.

In 2016, Chinese authorities had already seized over $30 mln dollars during their investigation of the alleged pyramid scheme.

The Justice Network reports that OneCoin organization - “Weika Coin” in China - whose server is located in Copenhagen, Denmark, worked by “constantly induc[ing] new investors to realize imaginary high profits” by “deceptively advocating” the coins’ worth and “tempting others to invest huge sums of money into its established website.”

The pyramid scheme, or MLM organization, reportedly had 27 fund pool accounts, more than 140 member levels of varying costs, and a total of over 2 mln registered users located in China. In total, the funds involved in the scheme are more than 15 bln yuan (around $2.3 bln), according to the Justice Network.

Last fall, Italy imposed a €2.5 mln fine on OneCoin after the Italian Antitrust and Consumer Protection Authority (AGCM) branded the organization a pyramid or ponzi scheme.

More recently, in January of this year representatives of the Bulgarian law enforcement as well as European Union crime fighting units raided OneCoin’s office in Bulgaria at the behest of a German prosecutors office. While documents and servers were seized from the offices and 50 witnesses questioned, no arrests were made at the time.

Back in 2015, Cointelegraph warned readers to stay away from OneCoin, referring to it as likely to be a scam.

Spanish Central Bank Governor Believes Crypto Brings More Risk Than Benefit

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The governor of Spain’s central bank is bullish on blockchain, but thinks that cryptocurrencies are “spurious novelties.”

The governor of the Bank of Spain has come out in favor of the possibilities of blockchain, but against the risks of cryptocurrencies, local news outlet Europe Press Financial reports Wednesday, May 23.

Luis María Linde referred to blockchain as a technology that “offers interesting possibilities,” but is yet “not quite mature” in a speech at a meeting of leaders of the financial sector organized by Deloitte and two Spanish organizations. Linde notes that the current global move to a digital economy requires regulators to encourage innovation without bringing the risks beyond “reasonable limits:”

“The move to a more digital economy is accompanied by greater cyber threats and it is necessary to develop new measures to protect processes, assets and customer data.”

In regards to cryptocurrencies, Linde believes that they currently present “more risks than benefits,” calling them “spurious novelties that do not provide significant improvements and should be tackled as soon as possible:”

“They have low acceptance as a means of payment, suffer extreme volatility, present multiple operational vulnerabilities and have been related to fraudulent or illicit activities in many cases.”

Bitcoin (BTC) is not considered as legal currency in Spain, but it may be considered as a digital good and its transactions may be governed by the rules of barter in Spain’s civil code, according to the Library of Congress.

At the end of April, a Spanish multinational bank BBVA became the first to conduct an entire loan process, from negotiation to signing, using blockchain technology. In mid-February, a lawmaker from the People’s Party of Spain reported that he is preparing legislation to give tax breaks to companies that use blockchain as a way to foster innovation in the country.

UK Mosque Opens Crypto Donations in National First ‘Bitcoin Ramadan’

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London’s Shacklewell Lane Mosque has begun accepting Bitcoin donations for Ramadan, so far receiving around $2000.

A UK mosque has broken with opinion and opted to accept cryptocurrency donations for this year’s Ramadan period, local media report this week.

The Shacklewell Lane Mosque in Dalston, East London, also known as Masjid Ramadan, partnered with local Blockchain startup Combo Innovation to set up a Bitcoin and Ethereum wallet for the Ramadan practice of Zakat, or almsgiving.

The UK’s only Turkish-owned mosque, Shacklewell Lane is going against the rulings of various Islamic scholars and the Turkish government, who previously determined cryptocurrency to be “incompatible” with Islam.

Interpretations are far from unanimous, however, with other sources suggesting cryptocurrency is indeed suitable for use by Muslims due to its global nature.

Gurmit Singh, CEO of Combo, which provides “Islamic compliant blockchain financial solutions,” is among those adhering to this more permissive stance.

“If Muslims, who make up a quarter of the world’s population, hold just 1 percent of bitcoins – or £1.04 bln ($1.39 bln) – then £26 mln ($34.6 mln) in Zakat contributions is due,” he told the Hackney Gazette, financially-able Muslims being obliged to donate 2.5% of their wealth during Ramadan.

“It’s likely the actual figure is much higher. Currently hardly any mosques or Islamic charities accept Zakat in cryptocurrency. They are potentially losing out on millions of pounds.”

The mosque hopes to raise around £10,000 ($13,300) for repairs to the building. So far, its Bitcoin address has received funds worth around $2000.

Third Largest Crypto Exchange Launches Crypto Market Index Tracking 10 Top-Traded Assets

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Crypto exchange Huobi Pro has launched a new market index that tracks the ten top-traded digital assets on its platform.

Crypto exchange Huobi Pro has launched a new market index for its platform, according to a company press release today, May 23rd. Huobi is currently the third largest crypto exchange in the world by trading volume, according to Coinmarketcap data.

The ‘Huobi 10’ index tracks the exchange’s 10 top-traded digital assets against Tether (USDT) in real time, using a weighted average calculation method. The announcement further explains:

“The digital assets are classified into four categories: Coins, Platforms, Applications and Utility Asset tokens. The number of constituents selected in these four categories depends on their transaction volume of last quarter….average daily trading volume in the previous quarter is [then] used to decide the weight of the constituent in the index.”

The press release suggests that the index will in this way "reflect the overall performance of Huobi Pro market," thus making trading simpler for investors.

The new index is also configured for cases where an asset may be delisted, so that "when an unexpected delisting of the index component occurs, the sample is temporarily replaced. And the coins that are ranked first in the candidate list will be selected as the sample coins in turn."

The press release further revealed Huobi’s plans to launch index-based products by early June.

Earlier this week, the outgoing CEO of the world’s largest crypto exchange OKEx joined Huobi as Board Secretary and VP of International Business Development. Huobi, which is headquartered in Singapore, is now expanding overseas, recently launching a South Korean subsidiary, as well as revealing plans to open an office in London.

In an email sent to the company’s employees, Huobi CEO Leon Li highlighted the exchange’s rapid growth, revealing that the company’s workforce now at almost 1000, as compared with just 10 people at the time of its launch in 2013. Huobi is now the third largest exchange worldwide, currently seeing daily trade volumes of about $1.18 bln.

Goldman Sachs-Backed Circle Invest App Launches New Feature for Market ‘Newbies’

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Circle has launched a new feature for its crypto investment app that lets users invest in its seven supported coins at once.

Goldman Sachs-funded Circle Internet Financial Ltd. has launched a new feature for its crypto investment app Circle Invest that makes it easier for “newbies” to enter the market.

The feature, dubbed “Buy the Market,” gives customers the option to invest in all listed coins at once, rather than having to decide between coins individually, according to a Bloomberg report Tuesday, May 22. The app splits their investment – which can be as little as $1 –  according to the coins’ market capitalization weightings.

The seven supported coins in Circle Invest are Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum (ETH), Ethereum Classic (ETC), Litecoin (LTC), Zcash (ZEC) and Monero (XMR).

Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire told Bloomberg:

“The vast majority of invested capital by individual [and retail] investors [...] whether it’s stocks or bonds or currencies or crypto –  is more passively managed. If you’re a [crypto] newbie [...] this is a tried-and-true model that’s worked in retail investing.”

Allaire emphasized to Bloomberg that by setting a low investment minimum, the company hopes to pave the way for more people to engage with crypto. Allaire argues Circle’s “Buy the Market” option is a more democratic version of U.S. crypto exchange Coinbase’s similar Four-Coin Index Fund, which is open to “accredited” investors only – defined in the U.S. as those with a net worth of more than $1 mln or an annual salary of over $200,000.

Allaire suggested that other companies may be narrowing their investor base due to concerns about a potential U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) crackdown to classify more tokens as securities, but emphasized that he thought Circle’s listed coins do not fall into this category. Notably, Ethereum was most recently caught up in a regulatory controversy over whether or not ETH sold during its 2014 presale is a security under U.S. law, though many argue it will escape the classification.

Circle’s CEO also told Bloomberg that since its acquisition of major crypto exchange Poloniex Inc. in February, Circle had been engaged in clarifying regulatory matters with the SEC.

Just last week, news broke of Circle closing a $110 mln fundraising round led by leading crypto mining hardware manufacturer Bitmain. The two companies also announced they were partnering to create a USD-backed stable coin by summer 2018. The investment brought Circle’s valuation to nearly $3 bln, more than a sixfold increase since 2016.