Japanese Publicly Listed Companies Launch Cryptocurrency Exchanges in South Korea

Two Japanese Companies Launch Cryptocurrency Exchanges in South Korea

Two Japanese companies listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange have recently expanded their cryptocurrency operations into South Korea. One has partnered with a local company to launch a bitcoin exchange with a plan to add merchant services. The other held an ICO to develop a crypto exchange after launching a mobile game which allows users to earn bitcoin.

Also read: Bitcoin-Based Ethereum Rival RSK Set to Launch Next Month

Bitpoint Korea

Remixpoint Inc (3825.T), which operates the bitcoin exchange Bitpoint in Japan, recently launched a cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea called Bitpoint Korea.

Two Japanese Companies Launch Cryptocurrency Exchanges in South Korea
Representatives of Bitpoint and Sys & Tech.

To launch this exchange, the company partnered with a Korean company called Sys & Tech which develops Forex margin automated trading systems. “In this business tie-up, we supply virtual currencies and liquidity to the virtual currency trading system, while Sys & Tech will be responsible for [its] operations including marketing and customer correspondence. We will revitalize the Korean virtual currency market,” Remixpoint claimed.

Cryptocurrency services offered through the partnership include an exchange, spot transaction services, and money transmission services. The exchange currently supports BTC, BCH, and ETH. For further expansion into the Korean market, the company plans to provide merchant payment solutions to retail stores in the near future.

Two Japanese Companies Launch Cryptocurrency Exchanges in South Korea
Bitpoint Korea’s trading screenshot.

Metapsplus’ Coinroom

Headquartered in Tokyo, Metaps Inc (6172.T) is an app monetization platform which uses artificial intelligence and big data to maximize app revenue and optimize campaign performance. Its Korean subsidiary, Metapsplus Inc, develops mobile advertisement platforms.

The subsidiary raised approximately 1.1 billion yen in a token sale last month to develop and operate a cryptocurrency exchange called Coinroom, which it recently beta-launched. Coinroom currently lists BTC, BCH, ETH, ETC and the company’s own token called pluscoin (PLC).

Two Japanese Companies Launch Cryptocurrency Exchanges in South Korea
Coinroom’s trading screenshot.

Prior to launching Coinroom, Metapsplus launched a mobile game called Dig Land which it says players can earn bitcoin from. The game is available in 141 countries, the company detailed. Characters in the game dig minerals buried in the ground using various equipment and receive rewards in-game. The company says that there are several ways to earn bitcoin within the game including digging minerals and solving puzzles.

Competition and Regulatory Environment

The Korean won is currently the third most traded currency for bitcoin by volume, behind only the Japanese yen and US dollar. Bithumb is the country’s largest bitcoin exchange with about 70% of domestic bitcoin market share, followed by Coinone and Korbit. Last month, a platform with over 110 cryptocurrencies beta-launched. This platform, Upbit, is operated by Kakao Stock, a stock trading platform based on the country’s most popular chat app Kakao Talk.

While both Japan and South Korea are among top countries for cryptocurrency trading, they have very different regulatory environments. Japan has made bitcoin a legal method of payment, whereas South Korea is still working on its regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies. In addition, Japan does not have specific laws governing initial coin offerings (ICOs), while Korea has banned them.

Do you think more Japanese companies will expand into South Korea? Do you think they can gain some market share? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Local Japanese Government Considers ICO to Revitalize Region

Local Japanese Government Considers ICO to Revitalize Region

A local Japanese government is considering a municipal initial coin offering (ICO) in order to raise funds to revitalize the region. It has partnered with private enterprises to begin research into how to launch the mooted ICO.

Also read: Sberbank Apologizes for Buying Nearly All Graphics Cards on the Russian Market

Japanese Government Planning an ICO

NishiawakuraLocal Japanese Government Considers ICO to Revitalize Region, a village located in Okayama Prefecture, has announced that it will “begin a joint research for the introduction of a local government ICO.”

The village has a population of approximately 1,500 and forests that occupy about 95% of its total area. In 2009, its “100 Year Forest” project was initiated with the aim of creating a beautiful “high-quality countryside.” According to the announcement:

We have actively worked on unique measures to revitalize the region. In order to continue investing in such sectors and realize a sustainable community development, we have started research on the introduction of a municipal ICO in collaboration with private enterprises, and how it is possible to use a municipal ICO as a new financial source for the village.

The village hopes that the municipal ICO will “encourage unprecedented inflow and circulation of funds,” the announcement read.

Collaborating with Private Enterprises

The village has begun a joint research project with three companies to determine how it can launch a municipal ICO.

Local Japanese Government Considers ICO to Revitalize RegionThe first company named is a blockchain development company, Chaintope Co Ltd. “We utilize blockchain technology and develop various regional virtual currencies,” the company describes itself. It also performs research and has developed a platform to support ICOs.

Local Japanese Government Considers ICO to Revitalize Region
Chaintope’s blockchain platform.

Chaintope’s platform allows for blockchains to be added as needed. Each is modeled after Bitcoin and is specialized for different purposes. The platform uses Amazon Web Services for data storage and can also use Bitcoin’s blockchain for public timestamping. However, these blockchains are run “on a closed network separate from the Internet,” according to the company’s website.

Local Japanese Government Considers ICO to Revitalize RegionMurashiki Co Ltd. will also participate in the project to develop an e-commerce platform for the system. The third company taking part in the project is A-zero Co Ltd. “We conduct regional revitalization projects in collaboration with municipalities, consult local startups, [and provide] regional marketing and other services,” it states.

ICOs in Japan

The ICO market in Japan has been growing. Small companies and large corporations have announced that they will engage in ICOs including GMO, DMM, and SBI Holdings.

While there are no laws and regulations specifically for ICOs in Japan, the Financial Services Agency (FSA) stated that two existing laws may apply to token sales. “ICOs may fall within the scope of the Payment Services Act and/or the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act depending on how they are structured,” the agency detailed in a recent statement.

What do you think of this village’s plan for a municipal ICO? Let us know in the comments section below.


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High Demand Prompts Japanese Bitcoin Exchange to Seek Partner in Russia

High Demand Prompts Japanese Bitcoin Exchange to Seek Partner in Russia

A major Japanese bitcoin exchange is looking to enter the Russian cryptocurrency market and is seeking a local partner. The exchange’s CEO says “demand is huge” and urges Russia to look at Japan as a model for cryptocurrency regulations.

Also read: Sberbank Apologizes for Buying Nearly All Graphics Cards on the Russian Market

Japanese Exchange Eying Russian Market

High Demand Prompts Japanese Bitcoin Exchange to Seek Partner in RussiaQuoine, which operates the cryptocurrency exchange Quoinex, is looking to enter the Russian crypto market, CEO Mike Kayamori told Russian news outlet Ria Novosti in an interview at the company’s headquarters in Tokyo this week. The exchange currently supports BTC, BCH, and ETH. At the end of September this year, the company became one of the first of eleven in Japan to receive approval by the Financial Services Agency (FSA).

“The volume of our transactions last month amounted to 7-8 billion dollars in one month,” Kayamori revealed, adding that his exchange is actively looking for opportunities in Russia. He said:

I would like to work with someone in Russia, where we can also provide technology and a platform. Demand is huge.

High Demand Prompts Japanese Bitcoin Exchange to Seek Partner in RussiaCurrently, “we do not work in Russia because we do not know how regulation there is. All the unknowns are a risk,” he added. “Therefore we would like to cooperate with any Russian progressive company that would be interested in cryptocurrency.”

The exchange has been actively expanding its operations of late. According to the CEO, the company is in talks with a number of foreign exchanges and financial institutions in countries such as the Philippines, South Korea, and China. Recently, Quoine partnered with fintech startup Blockwave to start cryptocurrency operations in Canada.

Russian Could Learn from Japan

As for expanding into Russia, Kayamori believes that “the most important thing is for the government to be consistent, to have confidence in what is good and what is bad.” He elaborated:

The Russian authorities and Russian institutions should simply look at Japan, on the existing guidelines and regulations, and then transfer them to Russia. Singapore is also looking at how it is done in Japan, because Japan is one step ahead.

Kayamori is not the only one suggesting looking at Japan as a model. In July, news.Bitcoin.com reported on Russian politician and the Presidential Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights, Boris Titov, proposing for the central bank to follow the Japanese model in regulating cryptocurrencies.

Currently, the Russian government is working on a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs). The regulations need to be implemented by July of next year, according to a mandate by president Vladimir Putin. This week, the Deputy Finance Minister announced that the bill should be ready by February.

Do you think more Japanese exchanges will want to expand into Russia? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Putin Advisor Bearish on Bitcoin: ”The Cryptoruble Must Compete With Cash”

Putin Advisor Bearish on Bitcoin: ”The Cryptoruble Must Compete With Cash”

Russia’s deputy finance minister has suggested that the name of the country’s national cryptocurrency should be changed from “cryptoruble” to “cyber-ruble”.  He is expecting “a large-scale correction” of bitcoin’s price and hopes to see a decline in interest in the cryptocurrency. Meanwhile, the first proposal for the cryptoruble has been submitted.

Also read: Bitcoin-Based Ethereum Rival RSK Set to Launch Next Month

Cyber-Ruble or Cryptoruble?

Putin Advisor Bearish on Bitcoin: ”The Cryptoruble Must Compete With Cash”
Vladimir Putin.

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has ordered the issue of the country’s national cryptocurrency, the Cryptoruble. Since the announcement last month, a debate has erupted whether this national cryptocurrency is actually a cryptocurrency.

On Thursday, Tass reported Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev saying that it is more appropriate to use the term “cyberruble” than “cryptoruble” since “it is about the development of the electronic ruble.” He said:

I think that when they talk about cryptorubles, they mix things up a bit, I think, it’s more customary to call it a cyber-ruble.

Co-founder of the investment company Exante, Anatoly Knyazev, commented on the issue, BFM reported on Thursday. While noting little difference between the two prefixes, he emphasized the importance of the political ties behind the word “crypto” rather than its technological meaning. He elaborated:

Cyber-ruble probably has fewer negative connotations and anarchist-freedom-loving meaning than does cryptoruble, and perhaps that’s why I want to move on to a new term.

Cryptoruble’s First Proposal

The first proposal for the Cryptoruble has already been submitted by Russia’s Minister of Communications and Mass Media, Nikolai Nikiforov. His ministry has prepared a government decree which defines the technological process of issuing the cryptoruble.

Russia Considers Renaming Cryptoruble to Cyber-Ruble, Bearish on Bitcoin
Nikolai Nikiforov.

“These are technological proposals,” Nikiforov was quoted by Interfax. “Government decisions to implement a cryptocurrency will not be enough; changes in legislation will be required,” the publication conveyed his explanation. “We have a draft resolution, within which we propose certain rules, how this kind of technology could be introduced into legal circulation on the territory of Russia.” he detailed.

Qiwi Group CEO Sergei Solonin was present at the meeting between Putin and top regulators when the decisions to issue the cryptoruble was made. He said that the cryptoruble must compete with cash, Ria Novosti reported. He then explained that if it does not, then “I do not see what its competitive advantage will be compared to other electronic currencies,” adding that:

If you do not give it the properties of cash and do not try to replace cash with the cryptoruble, then it’s pointless.

Moiseev Expects Major Bitcoin Correction, Hopes for Declining Interest

Russia Considers Renaming Cryptoruble to Cyber-Ruble, Bearish on Bitcoin
Alexei Moiseev.

Moiseev also said on Wednesday that he expects “a large-scale correction” of the price of bitcoin, Ria Novosti detailed.

“Of course, I believe that all these [bitcoin] investments are becoming more and more risky,” he asserted. “Taking into account the fact that the rate has already hit 7,000 dollars, I, of course, expect that a large-scale correction of the course, and people will lose a lot of money that they invested in bitcoin, maybe I’m wrong.”

He was then quoted by the publication:

I would like to see a decline in interest in simple cryptocurrencies, simple in the sense of those that are emitted for the sake of emission. Bitcoin is a classic example of this.

Do you think the cryptoruble will be a cryptocurrency? What do you think of what the deputy finance minister said about bitcoin? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Bitcoin Cash Hard Fork Plans Updated – New Difficulty Adjustment Algorithm Chosen

Bitcoin Cash Hard Fork Plans Updated - New Difficulty Adjustment Algorithm Chosen

The Bitcoin ABC development team has announced its plans for the November 13 Hard Fork upgrade of Bitcoin Cash. The upgrade is designed to stabilize the problematic difficulty adjustment algorithm (DAA). News.Bitcoin.com talked to Bitcoin ABC lead developer Amaury Séchet and Bitprim CEO Juan Garavaglia about what to expect.

Also read: Bitcoin Cash Community Preps Hard Fork Slated for November 13

Statement on November 13 Hard Fork

The Bitcoin ABC development team issued a statement on Monday regarding the upcoming hard fork of Bitcoin Cash (BCC). The upgrade is intended to address the cryptocurrency’s problematic DAA, which makes Bitcoin Cash’s blocktimes slow to a crawl at times and work several times too fast at others. According to the announcement:

Activation of the new consensus rules will be done on a median time stamp basis on blocks that occur after timestamp 1510600000, which corresponds to November 13th, 2:06 PM GMT.

In addition, “this activation code has been merged,” the statement continued, adding that a new software version containing an updated DAA will be published on or before November 1.

Bitcoin Cash Hard Fork Upgrade Plans - Difficulty Adjustment Algorithm ChosenBitcoin ABC’s lead developer, Amaury Séchet, told news.Bitcoin.com on Monday that “nodes need to upgrade. Some wallets need to [upgrade], others do not. It depends on the technology powering the wallet.” He believes that the upgrade “is unlikely to result in a split this time, so the overall risk is reduced.” However, the developer suggested that “users should double check their transactions on an explorer such as blockdozer.com or blockchair.com if they have doubts.”

It is up to the decentralized Bitcoin Cash development community, especially the other node and wallet development teams, to upgrade their software before November 13 in order for the hard fork to proceed smoothly. Project developers stated that they “have been in communication with Bitcoin Cash miners and they are expecting this upgrade.”

Competition for the New DAA

The Monday statement describes five criteria which the new DAA algorithm seeks to accomplish. It needs to “adjust difficulty to hash rate to target a mean block interval of 600 seconds”; “avoid sudden changes in difficulty when hash rate is fairly stable”; “adjust difficulty rapidly when hash rate changes rapidly”; “avoid oscillations from feedback between hash rate and difficulty”; and “be resilient to attacks such as timestamp manipulation”.

These criteria address problems with the cryptocurrency’s original DAA, called the Emergency Difficulty Adjustment (EDA). The statement explained:

The original Bitcoin Cash “EDA” allowed Bitcoin Cash to survive as a minority chain but produces wild fluctuations of hashrate. This is problematic because it prevents consistently fast confirmations for users, and radically shifts the coin issuance schedule.

Three algorithms satisfying the criteria from developers in the greater Bitcoin Cash community were tested. They were D578 from Neil Booth; D601 from Amaury Séchet; and D622 from Tom Harding.

Bitcoin Cash Hard Fork Upgrade Plans - Difficulty Adjustment Algorithm ChosenTwo development teams in the Bitcoin Cash space that did not submit proposals, Bitprim and Nchain, reviewed the three proposed algorithms. After weeks of testing to judge their performance, Séchet’s DAA was chosen to replace the EDA.

Séchet told news.Bitcoin.com that the testing showed another algorithm, Harding’s D622, performed “slightly better overall, but is also more complex to analyze from a security point of view and as a result was put aside for now.” He also believes the D622 algorithm could be improved upon and replace his own in the future, but he feels that “we must not delay solving a problem that is currently live on the network for too long.”

According to the Monday statement, Nchain found that Séchet’s DAA “is the logical choice,” despite the fact that D622 “is 3.1% (+/- 1.2% at 95% CI) better in most instances.” However, the faster algorithm lacked safety in their estimation. “For example, a large miner can set fluctuations into the timing,” Nchain mentioned, adding that:

We acknowledge that D601 (proposal from Amaury Séchet) may not necessarily have the highest performance, but since all 3 had similar performance, D601 was selected because it appears to have the least risk.

Why the Upgrade is Needed

Since its launch at the beginning of August, Bitcoin Cash has displayed a highly variable time between blocks being mined. With both Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash, this blocktime is supposed to average out to six blocks per hour, no matter how much hashrate is pointed at it.

Bitcoin Cash Hard Fork Upgrade Plans - Difficulty Adjustment Algorithm ChosenThe fluctuation in the time between blocks on the newer chain is so strong that production can jump between one block every four hours to a high of 61 blocks the following hour, like it did on October 12. With such a fast production rate, the Bitcoin Cash chain has lept over 7,800 blocks (55 days) ahead of the legacy chain recently. At that rate, it would be time for the next mining reward halving event much earlier than planned. Once halved, the Bitcoin Cash blockchain would be far less profitable than Bitcoin’s blockchain and profit-driven miners would likely abandon Bitcoin Cash.

The EDA, which is responsible for these wild fluctuations, was created to help keep the mining hashrate steady during its first few weeks. Soon after the Bitcoin Cash community’s developers realized the EDA problem, a debate ensued about how to remove it and what to replace it with in order to keep the miners interested in mining bitcoin cash.

Juan Garavaglia, the CEO and founder of the Bitprim project, told news.Bitcoin.com that “we expect the new algo will mitigate fluctuations in block generation, giving Bitcoin Cash users a better user experience and is one step forward aligned with Satoshi original vision.”

Séchet shared the sentiment, telling new.Bitcoin.com that, after the upgrade:

The hashrate on the BCH chain should be more stable, as well as the block production. We should see a split of the hashrate between BTC and BCH that is close to the split in term of price.

What do you think will be the result of the Bitcoin Cash hard fork? Let us know in the comments section below.


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South Korea Advances Crypto Bill Targeting Multi-Level and Door-to-Door Sales

South Korea Advances Crypto Bill Targeting Multi-Level and Door-to-Door Sales

South Korea is moving forward with a bill to regulate cryptocurrencies. According to the country’s Ministry of Justice, the bill will primarily focus on cracking down criminal activities including crimes perpetuated through multi-level and door-to-door sales.

Also read: Putin Orders the Issue of Russia’s National Cryptocurrency – the Cryptoruble

Bill To Focus on Criminal Activities

The South Korean government has announced that the legislation to regulate digital currencies “is expected to focus on cracking down on criminal activities,” such as “multi-level crimes,” Yonhap News reported.

South Korea Advances Crypto Bill Targeting Multi-Level and Door-to-Door SalesThe existing regulation for criminal activities does not explicitly include digital currency. A digital currency task force has been set up by relevant government departments including the Ministry of Justice, the Financial Services Commission (FSC), the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, and the Fair Trade Commission. According to the publication, its task is “to clarify the grounds for punishment” for digital currency-related crimes and recommend relevant amendments to the laws and regulations.

The Ministry of Justice said last week that the punishment rule will be significantly increased from “5 years imprisonment or fines of less than 50 million won” to “10 years imprisonment or penalty of less than 500 million won,” the publication detailed, adding that:

It also plans to establish confiscation rules for criminal profits to increase the effectiveness of punishment.

Currently, there is no clear law regarding digital currencies seized as criminal proceeds. Last month, news.Bitcoin.com reported on Suwon District Court in South Korea ruling that the confiscation of bitcoins by the police in a criminal case was inappropriate.

Amending Existing Regulations

The discipline system for virtual currency trading activities is also included in the amendment bill of the Act on Regulation of Similar Receiving Act, according to the news outlet. South Korea Advances Crypto Bill Targeting Multi-Level and Door-to-Door Sales“The purpose of this Act is to protect good traders and to establish a sound financial order by regulating ‘similar receiving behaviors’,” Article 1 of the law explains.

“Similar receiving behavior” is defined in Article 2 of the law as “an act that does not receive authorization or permission under other laws and does not register or notify and procures funds from an unspecified number of persons.”

Since the government does not view digital currencies as currencies or financial products, it is trying to regulate them through the above Act, Yonhap News detailed, adding that:

The government will set up regulations for securing consumer protection and transparency of transactions for virtual currency traders who conduct sales activities such as the sale, intermediation, and arbitration of virtual currencies in the amendment.

These regulations include the obligation to prohibit transactions on the Door-to-Door Sales Act, including multi-level and door-to-door sales, the news outlet described.

In addition, the government will also amend some Financial Information Acts to impose an anti-money laundering (AML) obligation on digital currency trading including requiring exchanges to report suspicious activities to the Financial Intelligence Unit. An FSC official was quoted saying:

The amendment plan is being revised with the aim of passing the revision bill of the Act on Regulating Receiving Behavior in the National Assembly this year…We will clarify the grounds for punishment for similar receiving behaviors that imply virtual currency investment by adding the phrase ‘virtual currency or virtual currency trading.’

What do you think about South Korea’s proposed regulations for cryptocurrency? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Japan’s SBI Group Launching Eight Crypto Businesses Including Mining

Japan's SBI Group Launching Eight Crypto Businesses Including Mining

Japanese financial services company SBI Group has revealed its plans to create a “new financial ecosystem based on cryptocurrency.” Eight different crypto-related businesses are being developed simultaneously including mining, hedge fund management, and a derivatives market.

Also read: Chinese Exchanges Seek Second Chance in Japan and Other More Crypto-Friendly Countries

New Financial Ecosystem Based on Cryptocurrency

Japanese conglomerate SBI Holdings announced its new cryptocurrency business plans on Thursday. At the company’s earnings results briefing session, President and CEO Yoshitaka Kitao detailed how the company is “pursuing synergies between [its] current financial ecosystem and [its] new financial ecosystem based on cryptocurrency.”

Japan's SBI Group Launching Eight Crypto Businesses Including Mining

The new financial ecosystem consists of eight cryptocurrency businesses: exchange platforms; hedge fund management; financing; mining; ICO and exchange platform rating information services; a derivatives market; remittance services; and transaction/payments services.

Each of the above businesses “will be developed simultaneously to pursue synergy and mutual evolution,” SBI Group wrote.

New Crypto Businesses

The company’s presentation outlines the details of each business it is launching.

Japan's SBI Group Launching Eight Crypto Businesses Including MiningThe group plans to establish “a dominant cryptocurrency exchange platform, amid other platforms, based on the ‘customer-centric principle’.” Its domestic cryptocurrency exchange was among the first eleven bitcoin exchanges in Japan to receive registration from the country’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) last month. SBI Group is also preparing to establish a cryptocurrency exchange platform in Hong Kong. The company wrote:

Currently waiting for the appropriate timing to start the [exchange] service, where the key decision factors are the progress of SBI Crypto’s mining, along with the division situation of [the upcoming] hard fork.

Japan's SBI Group Launching Eight Crypto Businesses Including MiningMining is a key business area that SBI Group is venturing into. Citing a 51% attack risk from miners controlling the majority of the network’s mining power, the group announced that it will “acquire cryptocurrency share through mining, in order to stabilize the market.”

In addition, SBI Group plans to contribute to “market stabilization by providing new trading opportunities in cryptocurrency for institutional investors,” by creating a crypto derivatives market and manage crypto hedge funds. The company wrote:

In order to stabilize the volatility in virtual currencies, the participation of institutional investors who make long-term investments are expected.

The group already has a remittance business through a subsidiary called SBI Remit which utilizes Ripple. In May of last year, SBI Ripple Asia was established to bring out a “remittance revolution” in Asia.

Japan's SBI Group Launching Eight Crypto Businesses Including MiningThe last two businesses concern initial coin offerings (ICOs). The group’s finance business will promote “ICO and cryptocurrency bond issuance by companies specialized in cryptocurrency finance,” starting around Spring 2018.

In addition, SBI Group plans to manage a cryptocurrency portal site that provides crypto-related and ICO rating information. Earlier this month, news.Bitcoin.com reported on Morningstar Japan initiating Japan’s first ICO rating business. SBI Group is the largest shareholder of Morningstar Japan, holding 49.54% of the company’s shares.

What do you think of SBI Group’s cryptocurrency business plans? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Russia Promises Regulation Will Not Kill ICOs

Russia Promises Regulation Will Not Kill ICOs

Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov promised not to let initial coin offerings (ICOs) in Russia “die” because of regulations last week. Despite bills being prepared to regulate them, President Vladimir Putin has said that ICOs hold “tremendous potential” and should not be obstructed.

Also read: Putin Orders the Issue of Russia’s National Cryptocurrency – the Cryptoruble

Defending ICOs

Russia Promises Regulation Will Not Kill ICOs
First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov.

Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov spoke at a youth forum in Sochi last week. One of the forum participants asked him, “I have a big request for you, please do not let our ICOs die as a result of regulation.” The deputy prime minister then “promised the participants to defend the capabilities of ICOs and prevent them from ‘dying’,” RIA Novosti reported.

“You are absolutely right,” Shuvalov continued, noting that various countries adopt laws to treat cryptocurrencies differently. “Our immediate response is to immediately put this under regulation, to ban, because it is harmful,” he said. Confirming that the government plans to regulate ICOs, he detailed:

We still do not know if it’s harmful or not, but we are already trying to ban and close it down. If our place is among advanced countries, and we want to succeed in this competitive race and even create better standards of life than our partners we are looking at on their social economic standards, one must be a little bolder.

The news outlet then quoted Shuvalov saying at the forum, “some of my colleagues from different departments and the government say that it smacks of MMM and something else.” In early September, the Bank of Russia warned about ICO risks.

ICO Bills

Russia Promises Regulation Will Not Kill ICOs“In Russia, the need for the regulation of ICOs and cryptocurrencies, as well as the use of blockchain technology as a whole have been stated repeatedly,” RBC reported. The head of a working group on assessing the risks of the turnover of cryptocurrencies at the State Duma, Elina Sidorenko, said that the group will prepare a draft law on ICOs immediately after the draft law on cryptocurrencies has been submitted to the State Duma.

The Russian Association of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency (RABIK) is also drafting a law to legalize ICOs, its president Yuri Pripachkin told RBC early this month. He described the bill as:

Most likely, it will be its own model, since other countries, when regulating ICOs, rely on previous experience of instruments for attracting financing such as IPO, crowdfunding, etc.

ICOs Bring ‘Tremendous Opportunities’

The chairman of the state-owned Vnesheconombank (VEB), Sergei Gorkov, expressed in August the need to determine the position of ICOs in Russia. “ICO is a phenomenon. From my point of view, this is an opportunity to attract additional money to the economy. It is necessary to assess the risks, which are formed in this connection, but this is one of the possibilities,” he conveyed.

At the aforementioned youth forum, Shuvalov said that Putin held a meeting in Sochi recently where he emphasized:

We need to be very careful about this so that people are not deceived so that rascals and lawbreakers do not use people’s trust to simply shake money and create pyramids…But not to put obstacles in the way of new opportunities. ICO is a tremendous opportunity.

Do you think Russia will let ICOs flourish? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Russia’s Capital Discusses Issuing Moscowcoin Cryptocurrency

Russia's Capital Discusses Issuing Moscowcoin Cryptocurrency

As the work on Russia’s national cryptocurrency is underway, the city of Moscow is discussing issuing its own cryptocurrency, the Moscowcoin. This will be possible after the legal framework of cryptocurrencies is established for the whole federation, city officials explained.

Also read: Putin Orders the Issue of Russia’s National Cryptocurrency – the Cryptoruble

Moscowcoin Discussion

Russia's Capital Discusses Issuing Moscowcoin Cryptocurrency
Vladimir Efimov.

The head of the Moscow department of economic policy and development, Vladimir Efimov, confirmed to reporters on Thursday that the issue of the city’s own cryptocurrency, the Moscowcoin, is being discussed. “The Moscow government plans to create its own cryptocurrency,” RNS reported and quoted Efimov admitting “we are thinking about this topic.” Noting that “the discussion has not been completed yet,” he further elaborated:

Before implementing such technologies in the city, you need an understanding of how this will be resolved at the federal level…When there is a clear understanding of what can and cannot be done, where it is possible [to use] and where it is impossible, we, of course, will adapt to this.

Possible Use

According to Efimov, the Moscow city government is investigating the implementation of the technology in the city’s resident-facing web portals and services. “We are discussing the implementation of blockchain technology on the basis of the city’s metropolitan services,” he detailed. “We have a whole range of different portals and various forms of interaction with citizens, and now we are actively working out the question of how to implement this technology,” he described.

However, Efimov did reveal one detail about the likely scope of Moscowcoin. He told Tass:

As an option, Moscowcoin can be used by residents of the city on the ‘Active citizen’ portal.

Russia's Capital Discusses Issuing Moscowcoin Cryptocurrency
Active Citizen Android App.

Active Citizen is a project by the Moscow government in 2014 “as a venue for holding open referendums in electronic form,” its website states. The platform currently has 1,310,191 users, has conducted 1,667 votes and generated more than 47 million views. The Active Citizen app is available for iOS, Windows, and Android smartphones. It has over 46,000 downloads in the Google Play store.

Each week, the city mayor and the government of Moscow engage active citizens to discuss important issues related to the city, from transport and landscaping to health and education. By participating, users can earn “points” which can be exchanged for city services such as paying for parking, city excursion programs and tickets to theatres and museums.

Using this portal as a testbed, Efimov said “when we talk about the cryptocurrency, it means wider circulation, rather than narrowly focused. The prototype already exists – everyone has points, some loyalty cards. It’s just a matter of where and how you can use it.”

Previous Talks of Moscowcoin

Russia's Capital Discusses Issuing Moscowcoin Cryptocurrency
Sergei Gorkov.

This is not the first discussion of the Moscowcoin cryptocurrency. At the end of August, state-owned Vnesheconombank (VEB) Chairman Sergei Gorkov mentioned the idea. In an open conversation with the founder of the Ethereum platform, Vitalik Buterin, he said that “in the future, Moscow might start issuing its own cryptocurrency,” RNS reported at the time.

However, Moscow authorities immediately responded to his suggestion, stating that the city “will not be able to issue its own cryptocurrency.” They cited that the federal government is in charge of issuing money, the press service of the city’s finance department told the publication. According to the representative of the department, “the subjects of the Russian Federation do not have such powers. Monetary emission under Art. 71 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation is under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation.”

Russia's Capital Discusses Issuing Moscowcoin Cryptocurrency
Natalia Sergunina.

Nonetheless, the idea did not subside. In early September, Deputy Mayor of Moscow on economic policy and property-land relations, Natalia Sergunina, in the press conference for the Moscow financial forum also mentioned the possibility of creating Moscowcoin, Tass reported at the time.

Then on Thursday, Efimov explained:

Use [of Moscowcoin] will be possible only after the legislative and legal framework at the federal level is formulated.

Last week, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin and top regulators decided that cryptocurrencies will be regulated in Russia, and the national cryptocurrency called the “cryptoruble” will be created. The finance ministry and the central bank are now working together to draft a bill to provide a basic legal framework for cryptocurrencies.

What do you think of Moscowcoin? Do you think Moscow will successfully issue its own cryptocurrency? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Tass, Moscow Investment Portal, and Kremlin’s website.


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Research Shows Half a Billion People Are Mining Cryptocurrencies Without Knowing It

Research Shows Over Half a Billion People Are Mining Cryptocurrencies Without Knowing It

The company behind the ad blocking program Adguard has analyzed the most popular 100,000 websites for cryptocurrency mining scripts. They found that over 500 million people have been mining cryptocurrencies and “they have no idea it is happening.” Each website running the script earns an estimated $43,000 within the three-week period studied.

Also read: Putin Confirms Russia Will Regulate Cryptocurrencies

Over Half a Billion People Affected

Adguard, which produces an ad blocking program with the same name, recently analyzed websites for cryptocurrency mining scripts following the news that some of them have been using their users’ browsers to mine cryptocurrencies. The top 100,000 websites as ranked by Alexa were inspected. Co-founder and CTO Andrey Meshkov shared his company’s findings on Thursday.

“We looked for the codes for Coinhive and JSEcoin, the most popular solutions for browser mining in use now,” Meshkov wrote. The analysis revealed that 220 of these websites have been using crypto-mining scripts. The four most targeted countries are the U.S., India, Russia, and Brazil.

Research Shows Over Half a Billion People Are Mining Cryptocurrencies Without Knowing It

Meshkov detailed:

We found 220 sites that launch mining when a user opens their main page, with an aggregated audience of 500 million people. These people live all over the world; there are sites with users from the USA, China, South American and European countries, Russia, India, Iran… and the list goes on.

Replacing Ads with Mining Revenues

Adguard estimated that each website running a crypto-mining script earned about $43,000 within the examined three-week period. While they have not made millions, Meshkov said, “this money has been made in three weeks at almost zero cost.”

Research Shows Over Half a Billion People Are Mining Cryptocurrencies Without Knowing It

Most of the sites using cryptocurrency mining scripts are “pirate TV and video sites, Torrent trackers and porn websites,” he described. Video streaming platforms are ideal for mining, he explained, citing “they boast a huge audience that keeps their site open in their browsers for a long time.” The largest torrent search engine, The Pirate Bay, was recently caught using Coinhive, which was also found to be used on CBS’ Showtime websites. Meshkov suggested:

The ethical way for a website to earn money by mining through its audience’s computers is to ask the audience for permission first, and to allow them the possibility to opt out. Actually, such a practice could make mining even more ethical than ads. After all, nobody asks us if we would like to see ads on a website.

While the Coinhive team has issued a statement asking website operators to ask user permission before using their CPUs to mine cryptocurrencies, Meshkov explained that it is difficult to enforce this recommendation. “For example, they cannot forbid stealth mining,” he said, adding that there are other ways to prevent websites running crypto-mining scripts without users consent. “A popular CDN service called Cloudflare recently started to suspend accounts and deny service to sites that mine without user permission,” he detailed, noting that “a number of ad blockers and antivirus programs also added features that block browser mining.”

Do you think that more popular websites will use browser mining to replace advertising? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Coinhive, and Adguard.


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