Blockchain around the world

Blockchain around the world

First Published: e-Forex Magazine 79 / Blockchain and CryptoCurrencies / January, 2018

Lithuania’s Bankera is aiming to build “banking for the blockchain era” via innovative methodologies that include an ICO, from 27th November to 27th December 2017, and a trading contest, from 24th November to end-December 2017. “We want to involve our community in the development process of our products,” says the bank’s blog post about the contest – you trade(d) six fictional coins to get “wincoin”, with prizes in BTC. Bankera launched a demo version of its planned cryptocurrency exchange platform, currently in development, to host the competition.

London’s Fiinu bank-to-be (currently applying for authorisation) aims to “build the next-generation bank” and “change the face of retail banking”with an emphasis on meeting the needs of the “under-served”. Fiinu had planned an ICO but has now opted for crowdfunding instead. “We have decided the best way to offer a secure and attractive way to invest in Fiinu Bank will be through a crowdfunding project on Seedrs.cm,” says Marko Sjoblom, founder and CEO, Fiinu.

Singapore-based Vaultbank’s ICO, from 21st December 2017, aims to “enable us to built a diversified portfolio of credit assets which will yield returns sufficient to both pay a meaningful dividend as well as to continue to grow our portfolio of assets”. Tokens are priced at USD1.00, and will “represent a beneficial ownership in non-voting shares of Vaultbank, to be held by the Nominee in trust for the holders of Vaultbank Tokens”.

South Korea won’t be regulating cryptocurrencies or indeed ICOs any time soon. Choe Heungsik, governor of South Korea’s Financial Supervisory Service (FSS), told a recent press conference: “Though we are monitoring the practice of cryptocurrency trading, we don’t have plans right now to directly supervise exchanges. Supervision will only come after the legal recognition of digital tokens as a legitimate currency.”

This doesn’t mean the FSS is relaxed about crypto-finance. Just a week earlier, opening the FSS-hosted “International Fintech Conference: Fintech Landscape and Supervisory Challenges” in Seoul on 15th November 2017, Choe Heungsik told his audience, first, that “regulators should work to cultivate a fintech-friendly regulatory environment,” and secondly that “we need to actively promote regtech because it employs technology to improve regulatory compliance at low cost.”

Choe Heungsik also discussed “the principle of cross-border and global cooperation among regulators and international organizations,” making the point that “fintech services can cross national borders at a far faster speed than non-fintech services.” If you think you’re being followed across those borders – you are.

Russia’s cryptoruble may be on its way, as briefly mentioned in eForex October 2017, but Bitcoin will never be welcome in the Russian Federation, says minister for communications and mass media Nikolai Nikiforov. Bitcoin is a “foreign project for using blockchain technology,” said Nikorov, and will therefore never be recognised as legal. That unequivoval ban, however, applies only to Bitcoin. “I think that it is quite possible to use blockchain technology and various digital tokens,” Nikorov added. Development of the cryptoruble (possibly under that name, which is used in government circles) was reportedly ordered by President Putin in October 2017. It will be a state-backed cryptocurrency, without mining facilities (wide distribution is seen as an issue with Bitcoin), and it will be coming soon. “I so confidently declare that we will launch the cryptoruble for one simple reason: if we do not, our neighbors in the Eurasian Economic Community will do it in two months,” said Nikiforov.  

Political instability in Zimbabwe through November 2017 coincided with a surge in trading at the country’s one cryptocurrency exchange, Golix; the Bitcoin price rose above USD14,000 as news broke that then-President Mugabe had been placed under house arrest. Bitcoin is no respecter of national borders, of course, and some commentary suggested that flight capital is now most efficiently moved in cryptocurrency form. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), the country’s central bank, reacted with a clampdown. “Bitcoin is not actually legal. In Southern Africa, what we have done as regulators, we have said that we will not allow this in our markets,” said Norman Mataruka, director of bank supervision, RBZ.

Hong Kong’s Gatecoin cryptocurrency exchange now lists Litecoin (LTC) alongside Bitcoin and Ether. These cryptocurrencies can now be traded with Euros and, subject to clarification, US and Hong Kong dollars. LTCUSD and LTCHKD were suspended at time of writing (as were all USD and HKD transfers) pending Gatecoin’s “activation of our new payment-processing solutions”. These were announced in a 16th November 2017 update at Gatecoin’s website, and at time of writing were subject to a testing process.

Hurry to Tallin, which is not only the capital of Estonia, but also “the capital of Europe’s innovative technology”, say the organisers of Moontec on 4th and 5th December 2017. Keynote speakers include Louis de Bruin, blockchain leader (Europe), IBM, on “enterprise blockchain”, and Akim Arhipov, CEO, BAASIS ID, on the enduring issue of digital identity in the “reputation economy”. We’re also looking forward to the presentation by Mike Brusov, CEO, Cindicator, entitled The Hybrid Intelligence Philosophy. We definitely want one of those.

Vancouver and London-based BTL Group reports that it is on track to deliver its “third-generation blockchain platform” Interbit in early 2018. Dominic McCann, CEO, BTL, tells us: “InterbitTM meets the requirements of industry via its scalability and privacy, with the platform using its multiple connected blockchains, aiming to handle hundreds of thousands of transactions per second. Our plan is to deliver a product that will be relevant in many years to come, as we envisage widespread enterprise adoption of blockchain technology.” Interbit uses APIs and smart contracts to enable businesses to “improve efficiency in trading and operations, accelerate development of internal systems, and embrace new revenue generating opportunities”. It’s also secure, resilient, and as you might expect, fits into regulated enterprise environments.

Young Americans like bitcoins a lot, says a new survey by the student-loan marketplace LendEdu. Just over 40% of the survey’s 564 respondents see Bitcoin as a “world-changing technology”, while close to 22% are holding the cryptocurrency as a long-term store of value. Survey respondents are, of course, Bitcoin holders, and for our purposes, it’s significant that only 8% of them see BTC as a transactional currency. Only 16.5% of buyers expect to sell any of their holding within one year. More at: https://lendedu.com/blog/investing-in-bitcoin