Mastercard has won a patent for fractional cryptocurrency banking, which suggests the global payments multinational has plans for a management system of fractional reserves of blockchain currency.

Mastercard Blockchain Patent Integrates Existing Traditional Payment Networks with Blockchain Currencies

The patent, filed on 29 June 2018, refers to “the use of centralized accounts to manage fractional reserves of fiat and blockchain currency updated via transaction messages corresponding to fiat- and blockchain-based payment transactions”.

The inventor, Steven Charles Davis, senior consultant of research & development at Mastercard, explained the need for such a mechanism.

Blockchain-based transactions can be very time consuming due to the computer processing time and resources required to verify and update the blockchain. This creates a problem between consumers and merchants, particularly the payee who “must rely on the payer’s good faith that their transfer will be valid”.

“In such latter instances, the anonymity of the blockchain may leave the payee at a disadvantage, because the inability for the payee to identify the payer may prohibit the payee from utilizing various risk or fraud detection methods,” the document noted

Moreover, it can be difficult for consumers to adopt, or even understand, blockchain currencies, it said, adding that its anonymous nature may leave consumers “unable to prove their identity and ownership of a wallet”, thus with “little recourse if their wallet and/or associated currency is stolen”.

The fractional reserve system for blockchain aims to improve the storage and processing of transactions by using existing traditional payment networks and payment systems technologies in combination with blockchain currencies.

The inventor argues the integration is able to “provide consumers and merchants the benefits of the decentralized blockchain while still maintaining security of account information and provide a strong defense against fraud and theft”.

The method for managing fractional reserves of blockchain currency comprises of receiving a transaction message associated with a payment transaction; identifying a specific account profile stored in an account database that includes the specific address, a fiat currency amount and a blockchain currency amount; and updating the blockchain currency amount included in the identified specific account profile.

Ajay Banga, President and CEO of Mastercard, recently called cryptocurrencies “junk”. His speech also tackled the massive market volatility and the popularity among criminals. Banga also argued that digital assets don’t deserve to be considered as a medium of exchange. Meanwhile, in the company’s Ireland-based subsidiary, much R&D has been done in regard to blockchain to improve payments services.

*This post is credited to News BTC

The Thai Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued a warning about investing in nine digital tokens and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), which have not been accredited by the regulator, news outlet Bangkok Post reported Oct. 26.

The SEC reportedly initiated an investigation into digital tokens and ICOs being promoted on social media platforms for investment, and found nine cases wherein promoted digital assets had not been authorized by the market regulator.

Per the SEC, the alleged digital assets and ICOs have neither filed an application for the SEC’s approval, nor have they met the necessary qualifications and had smart contracts assessed by ICO portals. The SEC said that those who have invested in the alleged assets should be wary of associated investment risks.

The SEC reportedly reiterated a warning about Ponzi schemes that persuade people to invest in digital assets by promising investment returns generated from tokens. “Information disclosure for investment decision-making is also inadequate, while these digital assets might not have sufficient liquidity to trade and cannot be converted into cash,” the regulator added.

In August, the SEC said that almost 50 ICO projects expressed interest in becoming certified following the Finance Ministry’s announcement to introduce ICO regulations. The authorization process takes up to five months as upon submission of an application, the SEC will transfer the document to the Finance Ministry within 90 days. After that, the Ministry has 60 days to make a decision whether to approve a license.

Later that month, the SEC approved seven businesses to conduct cryptocurrency operations as part of the formalization of the country’s domestic market. The move forms part of a package of “transitional” rules governing crypto businesses operating in Thailand prior to the first tranche of regulations that came into force May 14.

The 100-section law defines cryptocurrencies as “digital assets and digital tokens,” and brought them under the regulatory jurisdiction of the SEC. Thai Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong reportedly assured that the new measures are not intended to prohibit cryptocurrencies or ICOs.

*This post is credited to CoinTelegraph

DUBAI (BLOOMBERG) – Vertex Ventures, the venture capital arm of Temasek Holdings, said it made an investment in Binance to develop a fiat-to-cryptocurrency exchange in Singapore.

The amount of the investment by Singapore’s state investment firm wasn’t disclosed. Binance, one of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchanges, primarily handles trades between digital tokens.

The funding, which is a joint investment between Vertex Ventures China and Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia & India, will also support other fiat-to-crypto gateways and services throughout South-east Asia, according to a statement.

Vinny Lingham, the co-founder and CEO of Civic Technologies, a blockchain-enabled identity verification solution provider, recently noted the world “wants a more stable money supply” and the crypto community could potentially help create a better financial system.

However, as most crypto market analysts have said, Lingham believes it’s still early days for the industry and a lot of work needs to be done to help improve blockchain-based infrastructure. “It will take years of coding, experience, and a lot of failure” before the crypto industry begins to mature,” according to the Bitcoin Foundation board member.

Lingham explained that currently we are in “the phase of consolidation and it’s a bear market.” He added that if the bitcoin (BTC) price drops below the $3,000 mark, which some market analysts have said is possible, then the market could still recover. However, he said it won’t happen before 2020.

“Can’t Wage A War On Every Front”

The Multicoin Capital general partner thinks there are about six to twelve more months of a cryptocurrency bear market left. He went on to argue that if bitcoin’s price remains above the $6,000 mark for the next six months, then “it will [probably] be a short recovery” (by end of 2019) – meaning that cryptocurrency prices will recover to levels comparable to their all-time highs in late 2017.

Commenting on the different skill sets people and organizations have in the crypto industry, Lingham said that “in the [primarily] open-source community we have right now, … the product development skills are [not] homogenous across the ecosystem.”

He added there are obviously “different areas where people are better than others” and that “you can’t wage a war on every front” – meaning you can’t be the best at everything. Going on to discuss the current scalability issues the Ethereum blockchain is facing, Lingham said it’s “probable that Ethereum could win on the ICO realm.”

EOS Has Better “Scaling Potential” Than Ethereum

However, it could also “fail on scaling” as there are now several cryptocurrency projects out there that may potentially be “better at scaling,” Lingham noted. While acknowledging that EOS is much more centralized compared to Ethereum, he thinks it has considerably more “scaling potential” than Ethereum.

Notably, Lingham believes EOS’ centralization is “not that bad” and that it’s decentralized enough to the point that:

no government can attack the system … with EOS, the types of programs and applications you want to run [are] for commercial and enterprise usage [and they don’t] need that level of censorship resistance. So, it can be a bit more centralized.

Vinny Lingham

Reflecting on all the activity in the crypto and blockchain ecosystem, the Civic Technologies co-founder said:

it’s the biggest experimentation on a grand global scale in the history of mankind. Never before have so many people been involved in the technology industry … running a series of experiments with total disregard for profitability and revenue and income … it’s kind of like unbridled technology and innovation … so let’s hope a couple of winners come out of it.

Vinny Lingham

While cryptocurrencies are more accessible than ever before, there’s still a long way to go until cryptocurrencies are perfectly regulated in most of the world’s countries. While Europe and America are still trying to figure out how to accurately and efficiently regulate cryptocurrencies, a wide array of Asian countries have been quick to enact laws, ground rules, and regulations.

Not only did Asian regulators understand the importance of the blockchain and cryptocurrencies, but most of the Asian banks have also become aware of the fact that the adoption of the underlying technology of blockchains is inevitable. Hence, most Asian country governments have understood the importance of protecting their monetary sovereignty while still allowing innovations to take place.

Here is our list of Asian countries that have fully, partially, or slightly adopted blockchain:

Japan

Our list starts with Japan, one of the most influential Asian countries when it comes to a great deal of things, including the adoption of cryptocurrencies. Not only is Japan one of the most crypto-friendly countries (and one of the earliest adopters of crypto), but it’s also the place where Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious pseudonym associated with the creation of the Bitcoin platform, is believed to have started his operations.

The first major regulatory intervention took place after the Mt. Gox crash in 2014 and, thanks to a very lenient and business-focused government, cryptocurrency operations have been since thriving in Japan. For example, in April 2017, Bitcoin has been recognized as a legal tender in Japan. 2017 was also the year in which Japan’s Financial Service Agency (FSA) approved 11 exchange operators. The government has set up a legal framework through the PSA (Payment Services Act) that legalizes the use of cryptocurrencies as an official payment method.  Nowadays, the crypto scene is pretty much vibrant in Japan.

China

China’s start with cryptocurrencies can be described as nothing short of enthusiastic, which led to dramatic rises in Bitcoin prices, among others. Back in the “olden” days, China was considered a haven for cryptocurrencies, and Chinese exchanges accounted for almost 90% of the daily trading volume for Bitcoin alone.

As faith would have it, the Chinese government has cracked down upon both crypto exchanges and mining operations within the country. In 2017, the People’s Bank of China also banned initial coin offerings (ICOs) within the country. The government’s pressure was so high that various Chinese crypto exchanges either relocated or stopped accepting Chinese currency.

Thanks to the cheap electricity in China, crypto mining was extremely popular (some estimate that 70% of all Bitcoin mining took place in China). In the following months since the government’s decision, many miners left the country and set up operations in Canada, Iceland, and other crypto-friendly countries. Unsurprisingly, this major change has affected the global crypto market and has even led to a crash.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are not fully banned in China, but the government did rule that cryptocurrencies cannot be used as a legal currency in the country. In the middle of what might seem like a fiasco, the Chinese government has made its stance on cryptocurrencies quite clear, meaning that it understands the importance of such technologies. China is already looking towards introducing its own version of Bitcoin to substitute the national currency.

South Korea

South Korea has seen its fair share of cryptocurrency innovations and has recently made various headlines. For the last couple of years, South Korea emerged as a slightly crypto-friendly country. Last year, South Korea was the third biggest market for Bitcoin trading and the largest market for Ether trading in the world. This was until January 2018, when the government followed the example of China and cracked down on the virtual exchanges. The government even issued various official statements regarding the ban of cryptocurrencies and pointed at the fact that they are used for various criminal activities and money laundering. Even though the government’s stance has softened since January, there’s still no guarantee that South Korea will ever become the crypto force it once was.

Thailand

While regulators from all around the world still have various problems when it comes to categorizing cryptocurrencies, Thailand has stepped forward as one of the most prolific ecosystems for crypto adoption. Earlier this year, authorities have issued an emergency decree that resulted in the creation of the Digital Asset Business Decree. It defines both crypto and digital tokens, and it introduces a tax so that the government can benefit from the growing industry.

Even though Thailand still has a lot of work until its regulations will be perfectly accurate and relevant, the country does a good job at formalizing the process of crypto exchanges and ICOs. One interesting aspect is the fact that all ICOs and trades must be paired with one of seven officially acknowledged cryptocurrencies.

Taiwan

As some Asian crypto countries seem to prefer to tighten the rules, Taiwan is yet another country that might become a safe haven for cryptocurrencies. The Taiwanese government’s view on cryptocurrency can be viewed as “neutral.” Slowly but surely, Taiwan continues its journey towards becoming an important crypto hub in the Asian scene, with more banks developing their own cryptos and with various trading platforms already in the game.

Indonesia

After maintaining a firm stance against cryptocurrencies for quite some time now, Indonesia’s government has recently legalized crypto trading. Various important figures within the nation’s government have also hinted at the fact that cryptocurrency exchanges might be subjected to various regulations as well.

Even though Asia seems to have a very nice fascination with cryptocurrencies, it’s worth keeping in mind that this is a relatively new technology and that it’s quite normal for governments to have hesitations or make mistakes when it comes to regulating cryptos. At the time of this writing, Asia has a fairly balanced crypto situation with countries such as Japan that fully embrace the technology, others like South Korea that are becoming more and more restrictive, and some like India that seem to be very much confused about the whole condition.

*This post is credited to UseTheBitcoin

 

PETALING JAYA: Country Heights Holdings Bhd (CHHB) is looking to issue its own asset-backed cryptocurrency (ABC) known as “Horse Currency” through an initial coin offering (ICO).

The group told Bursa Malaysia that it will seek the support and endorsement from the shareholders at its EGM scheduled to be held on November 8.

Citing blockchain technology as the way forward, CHHB highlighted that the main and defining difference of the “Horse Currency” and other cryptocurrencies available in the Malaysian market is that it is backed by the group’s existing assets worth of RM2 billion.

“When launched, the ‘Horse Currency’ will mainly be used as a utility token, a reward token and royalty program with the businesses, products and services under the company’s new business strategies such as stays at the Palace of the Golden Horses, restaurants, golf memberships, private jet trips, Car City Centre, medical treatments and checks at the Golden Horses Health Sanctuary and many others.”

CHHB said the group is also looking at allowing the “Horse Currency” to be used as legal tender in purchasing and leasing its unique properties scheme, especially the resort properties.

Founder and chairman Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew proposes to issue 1 billion units, of which an intial 300 million units will be made available to the public.

CHHB said its assets will be placed in a trust held by a reputable legal firm and a prominent technology partner and other external consultants (if necessary) will be appointed to give back-end support to this exercise.

“We seek the shareholders to approve the appointment of these external consultants. In the fast moving digital age, the company intends to ride this wave of popularity of blockchain technology and assetbacked cryptocurrencies, in finding new and creative means to raise capital for the expansion of the company.”

“We seek the shareholders’ support especially on this ABC, which the company will match minimum RM2 worth of assets eventually for 1 ‘Horse Currency’, across all ICO phases.”

CHHB’s share price fell 1 sen or 0.8% to close at RM1.28 on 5,000 shares done.

*This post is credited to The Sun Daily Malaysia

South Korea’s tryst with cryptocurrencies has clearly made an impact on other countries with Uzbekistan and Belarus tying up with the South Asian country to improve their cryptocurrency industries.

Just a few days back, Uzbekistan had released a new presidential circular that legalized the trading of cryptocurrency assets in the country. The circular came in the wake of an earlier decree that was released by the Asian country which had started the groundwork for legalizing cryptocurrency trade. Shavka Mirziyoyev, the President of Uzbekistan has been quite the trailblazer for the country in the fintech industry making trade policy implementations and market shake-ups a priority.

The Uzbek government has taken the help of the Korean Blockchain Business Association [KOBEA] to learn the inner workings of the cryptocurrency sector and to ensure proper implementation of the required protocols. The country was also in the news for trying to develop ‘ Uzbekistan Revolution 4.0’, a state-funded project that aims to integrate the blockchain industry and cryptocurrency industry with Uzbekistan’s development model.

KOBEA also plans to start a blockchain academy a mining program within the country thereby taking mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies to a new level. According to reports, Uzbekistan is following the trail of another country in Europe this time, Belarus. Alexandar Lukashenko, the president of Belarus has gone ahead and stated that the government is out to ensure that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin [BTC] and Ethereum [ETH] can help in making transactions more seamless and safer.

Belarus’ governmental body, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe [OSCE] has also been in the news for upping the ‘technology ante’. The OSCE had put forth a draft resolution titled “ On the digital economy” which was passed in the committee to raucous applause.

South Korea’s efforts to propagate the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies has been lauded across the world with the country passing a new bill that would protect cryptos such as Bitcoin and XRP just a few months back.

Hong Seong-ki, the virtual currency response team head at South Korea’s Financial Services Commission had stated:

*This post is credited to AMB Crypto

The smartphone has a longer history than most might expect, but they’re still a relatively new piece of technology in the grand scheme of things. They’ve changed the way people communicate with one another, and now more impactful adjustments are being made with every new iteration of the smartphone. The changes are becoming bigger, bolder and more consequential.

The industry built around the smartphone is also ever evolving, and now smartphones have begun to redefine how people handle their money, data and sensitive discussions. One of the causes of this is the pressing influence of blockchain, so here’s how it’s affecting the smartphone industry.

Stronger Cybersecurity

It’s no secret that smartphones are a gateway to an online world of dangers and awful people, and safety should be at the forefront of everything people do online. After all, you don’t have to qualify as a morally righteous person to own and use a smartphone. With a swipe of the screen, people can be exploited, abused and have their lives effectively ruined. Blockchain throws a wrench into the plans of these online wrongdoers.

Blockchain technology has surfaced with a principle goal; safety. In its simplest form, blockchain is the safe storage of information located across many computers, while using high end cryptography to keep prying eyes away. This means that users can access information through their smartphone without another person overseeing, or interfering with, their data. It’s digital reliability for the phone and removes the ability of any middle man or ill meaning individual to snoop in on another person’s information.

In a stunning move, the US banking industry has estimated that blockchain could save them $20 billion in middleman fees, which is in an enormous figure. Though we are hereto analyse the effect on the smartphone industry, people have now begun to access their banking information through their smartphones. Therefore, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that the changes in one industry won’t impact another.

Blockchain also makes dealing with cryptocurrencies and bitcoin trading that little bit easier too. Additionally, the blockchain allows people to check their money is going to the right people through a digitised ledger. There’s no fraudulent schemes or chances of interference; the user is in control of their finances alone at a faster rate. All in all, those with a smartphone can transfer their money to the intended parties without worry.

Communication

You can’t digitally transfer money without some quality communication first. Of course, with a smartphone interaction can be strained, as they allow users to talk to anyone in the world. Phone numbers aren’t even needed anymore, as emails, ads, notifications, and social media all direct a constant flow of information from, in many instances, people who are unacquainted or even automated bots.

The internet is a world of billions of loud voices, and most of it is white noise. Blockchain refines communication with removing the irrelevant rabble in mind. For example, if a company wants to discuss private business logistics through their smartphone, they can now do so in confidence due to blockchain’s efficiency. It can filter emails in an inbox to be only the most important messages, and make sure uses are viewing only what they want to read.

*This post is credited to GizChina

Well into the second half of 2018 and it’s been a white-knuckle roller coaster ride for most. With Ether shedding 44 percent of its value in just two weeks and the media speaking of a Bitcoin bubble, is it possible to lose faith in crypto but remain bullish on blockchain? Apparently; if continued corporate statements like the UBS blockchain endorsement are anything to go by. But can you really separate cryptocurrency and blockchain?

UBS Bullish on Blockchain, Bearish on Bitcoin

CEO of Swiss investment banking giant UBS, Sergio Ermotti, came out with a bold claim recently. He said that blockchain was “almost a must” for business. UBS blockchain support is nothing new, however. Neither is their stance that cryptocurrencies are risky and will probably never become mainstream currencies.

Yet, when it comes to blockchain, UBS changes their point of view. The bank believes that blockchain technology can help companies become more efficient and reduce their operating costs across the board, from healthcare to finance. This implies a separation between cryptocurrencies and the technology that they run on.

But is it possible to separate the two? Furthermore, since the original vision of Satoshi was to send peer-to-peer electronic payments without the need for a middleman, UBS blockchain support could be misplaced.

Disrupt or Be Disrupted

“While we are doubtful cryptocurrencies will ever become a mainstream means of exchange, the underlying technology, blockchain, is likely to have a significant impact in industries ranging from finance to manufacturing, health care, and utilities,” UBS wrote in October of 2017.

Adding that, “Just as [the] internet has transformed our lives with email, e-commerce, or smartphone apps, we believe blockchain as an infrastructure technology can power future disruptive technologies through distributive ledgers, smart contracts, tokens or identity management.”

So, what about cutting out the middleman? The centralized authority taking its fees? UBS blockchain research does acknowledge a certain level of risk, although they limit this to technological shortcomings and an uncertainty as to which application will benefit the industry most. They fail to mention whether digital currencies will threaten fiat ones, or if central authorities will be cut out of the loop.

In fact, within the financial sector, UBS predicts that blockchain technology will have irreversible and positive effects. And UBS blockchain support doesn’t stop at words. The bank is also investing in research into distributed ledgers and smart contracts in its business model.

UBS currently holds a number of blockchain patents. Yet, despite Ermotti’s bullish stance, their blockchain activities are dwarfed by other large banks and credit card companies. The list includes American Express, BBVA, Mizuho Financial Group, Goldman Sachs, BNP, and Bank of America (who’s buying up blockchain patents like they’re expecting a war). Is this a bid to disrupt or be disrupted? Or a defensive maneuver to protect themselves against blockchain innovation?

Blockchain and Bitcoin Are One and the Same

Plenty of people criticize Ermotti’s point of view, seeing it as a convenient way of taking a politically acceptable view and a safe position. Leaving the door open without scaring away existing clients. Others believe that more than just convenient, it misses the point completely. After all, blockchain and cryptocurrency are one and the same.

Consider the Bitcoin network for a moment. The way it was created requires miners to believe that the value of the Bitcoin they are rewarded will increase over time (or at least, not decrease in value). Otherwise, there is no incentive or rational reason to invest in expensive mining equipment, electricity, and time.

So, for those like UBS that are skeptical on Bitcoin, but busy singing the praises of blockchain, they may not fully understand. In an interview with Malta’s Steve Tendon, a member of the country’s Blockchain Taskforce and author of Malta’s National Blockchain Strategy, he expressed his concern with viewpoints such as the UBS blockchain one.

He argued that many regulators and institutions tried to draw a distinction between blockchain and cryptocurrencies, viewing crypto as a bad thing because of its criminal associations and scams, but blockchain as a positive technology with infinite possibilities.

“There is no way you can have a smart contract platform that is as sophisticated as the one that Ethereum has implemented today (but there will be others in the future) unless you also have a cryptocurrency that is being used to “pay” for the computation. So the distinction between cryptocurrency and blockchains are really artificial: they are just two aspects of the same coin,” he said.

*This post is credited to Talkmarkets

European crypto card provider Wirex has been awarded an e-money license by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK. The accreditation will allow the company to create e-money accounts in more than two dozen different currencies. Wirex hopes to secure similar licenses in Asia and North America.

Wirex to Create E-Money Accounts in 25 Currencies

Wirex Limited, a major provider of cryptocurrency debit cards in Europe, has been granted an e-money license by the Financial Conduct Authority. The watchdog regulates over 56,000 companies and 125,000 approved persons in the United Kingdom.

In a tweet, Wirex says it is only the third company to have received the license so far and notes the importance of the development. It explains in a post published on its website that “gaining the FCA license will open up a much broader market,” giving the platform an opportunity to create e-money accounts in over 25 different currencies.

The fintech firm also revealed it is currently developing offerings in Asia, including Singapore and Japan, as well as in North America. It did not say, however, when exactly users in these markets will be able to take advantage of its services. According to previous reports, its contactless cryptocurrency cards were supposed to be launched in Asia during the second quarter of 2018.

The London-headquartered company became the first to reintroduce crypto debit cards in Europe after they were suspended by Visa last year. It offers both virtual and physical cards in around 30 countries from the European Economic Aria. Wirex started shipping the plastics to customers in the UK and Europe in May.

The cards initially supported bitcoin core (BTC), litecoin (LTC) and instant exchange with GBP, USD, and EUR. Last month Wirex announced the addition of ripple (XRP). The cards come with a chip and Cryptoback rewards. The virtual Visas offer deposits in a number of altcoins through a proprietary wallet. Wirex claims it has 1.8 million clients and says it has facilitated transactions worth $2 billion.

Bringing Crypto to the Mainstream

The company expects the new accreditation to boost trust in its platform and improve its reputation on the global stage. “Acquiring an FCA license has been our ambition since we started the company, so we’re thrilled to be at this point,” said Wirex co-founder Dmitry Lazarichev. “The license gives us the freedom to optimize our e-money offering, which will lead to lower costs and fees for our customers,” he detailed in a press release.

According Wirex’s other co-founder, Pavel Matveev, the company has a robust approach to security and compliance and is working closely with regulators around the world. “We’re on a path of continuous improvement and focusing on these important milestones is key to achieving our ambitious global expansion plans. The FCA e-money license is just the first step to creating a broad and versatile offering that meets the varying needs of consumers worldwide,” he said.

Matveev expressed his satisfaction with the FCA accreditation and emphasized that Wirex wants to bring cryptocurrencies into the mainstream while providing a solution for managing both crypto and fiat funds. The UK-based crypto company noted that the license has taken 9 months to acquire. It seems the long application process has been worth it as Wirex believes the internationally-recognized credentials from the British regulator will help assure customers the platform is maintaining high compliance standards.

Wirex’s FCA license is the last in a series of positive crypto developments in Great Britain. Last week, Crypto Facilities, a crypto futures exchange regulated by the same authority, announced the launch of the first bitcoin cash – dollar (BCH/USD) futures. In early August, US-based crypto exchange Coinbase revealed its UK customers will be able to buy cryptocurrencies with British pounds (GBP). According to a recently published report, the United Kingdom has what it takes to become a leader in the crypto industry.

*This post is credited to Bitcoin News.