Binance Changes Launchpad Token Sale Format to Lottery

Binance Changes Launchpad Token Sale Format to Lottery

            

Leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance announced major changes

to the format of its Launchpad token sale in a post on its blog published on March 24. Per the announcement, the company “will use a new lottery format for the next project on Binance Launchpad.” Previously, the system functioned on a first come, first served basis, which left many users who joined high-demand sale queues without tokens.  

The post also outlines a lottery ticket system in which participants will be able to claim up to five tickets by holding Binance Coin (BNB) tokens over the 20 days leading up to the lottery, with 1 ticket per 100 BNB. The exchange will announce the number of winning tickets and the amount of funds that the owner of a winning ticket will receive.

Users will be able to choose how many tickets they want to use to participate in a given lottery in the 24 hours before the winners are chosen, with the maximum number based on their BNB holdings over the prior 20 day period. While Binance admits that the new system may cause some fluctuations in BNB trading before and after the snapshot time, its reports that the side effects should be

minimal adding:

“Other market participants may view this as an opportunity, and countertrade to even out the fluctuations.”

Binance Launchpad, as the name suggests, is the company’s token launch platform, which most recently concluded a $4 million sale of Celer Network (CELR) tokens last week. The platform reportedly conducted the Fetch.AI (FET) token sale, which raised $6 million within 22 seconds in February.

As Cointelegraph recently reported, changes made to Binance’s public Application Programming Interface seemingly reveal that the company is working on implementing margin trading. Last Tuesday, two exchanges, LBank and Bit-Z, overtook Binance on the adjusted trade volume cryptocurrency exchange rankings on CoinMarketCap, but research published on March 18 by the Tie suggests most of their volume is fake.

Article Produced By
Adrian Zmudzinski

Adrian is a newswriter based out of Pisa, Italy. He's passionate about cryptocurrency, digital rights, IT, tech and futurology and likes to think about the future in a positive way.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/binance-changes-launchpad-token-sale-format-to-lottery

China’s 11th Crypto Rankings: EOS First, TRON Second, Ethereum Third, Bitcoin Fifteenth

China’s 11th Crypto Rankings: EOS First, TRON Second, Ethereum Third, Bitcoin Fifteenth

             

 

China has released its latest government-sponsored rankings

of major cryptocurrencies on March 22, placing Bitcoin (BTC) in 15th, while EOS keeps its top spot. Tron (TRX) came in second, after overtaking Ethereum (ETH) in February. The crypto rankings by China’s Center for Information and Industry Development (CCID) were first announced in May last year. In this eleventh edition of the index, EOS has remained as the top-ranked blockchain, a place occupied by the platform since June 2018.

The eleventh CCID Global Public Chain Technology Evaluation Index puts Tron on the second spot, as did the tenth edition. The ninth edition had previously placed Ethereum in the second spot, while Tron wasn’t present at all on the list. In the tenth edition, Bitcoin had moved from number 15 to number 13, now falling back down two spots to occupy 15th place again. As Cointelegraph recently reported in a dedicated analysis, EOS is seemingly still a work in progress, as the blockchain has seen controversy over some aspects of its allegedly centralized governance system.

Two major crypto exchanges — Singapore-headquartered Huobi Global and Malta-based OKEx — proclaimed their support for the Tron-based version of stablecoin Tether this week. At the beginning of the current month, Tron and Tether had first announced their intention to introduce the USDT to the Tron network. Recently, Cointelegraph reported that Ethereum is being used by a North Korean political dissident group, the Cheollima Civil Defense, to sell tokenized visas for entering the country once it is supposedly liberated.

Article Produced By
Adrian Zmudzinski

Adrian is a newswriter based out of Pisa, Italy. He's passionate about cryptocurrency, digital rights, IT, tech and futurology and likes to think about the future in a positive way.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/chinas-11th-crypto-rankings-eos-first-tron-second-ethereum-third-bitcoin-fifteenth

Major Latin American E-Commerce Company Bans Cryptocurrency-Related Ads

Major Latin American E-Commerce Company Bans Cryptocurrency-Related Ads

              

The largest e-commerce company in Latin America,

Mercado Livre, has banned cryptocurrency advertising on their website, Cointelegraph em Português reported on March 18. The development was revealed in an exclusive interview with Cointelegraph em Português after the company’s users reported receiving of emails informing them about the change in Mercado Livre’s policy. The new policy requires all users to remove their listings pertaining to digital currency, otherwise all listings will automatically be taken down from the platform starting March 19. One of the users received a letter,

saying:

"We would like to inform you that as of March 19, you will no longer be able to advertise used products in the following categories:

– Cryptocurrencies

– Prepaid cards for games

Because you have ads for used products that will soon be banned, we recommend that you end them. Otherwise, they will be finalized on the date mentioned above. "

Mercado Livre reportedly stated:

"Mercado Livre clarifies that as of March 19, crypto ads that are active on the site in the ‘used’ condition will automatically be finalized and new ads can only be created as ‘new products’."

Mercado Livre (or Mercado Libre in Spanish) has overtaken fellow e-commerce giant Amazon in Latin America. Earlier this month, the firm reportedly sealed a deal for a whopping $750 million investment via a sale of common stock to payments network PayPal.

Large technology firms like Google and Facebook have previously introduced similar bans. In March last year, Google announced the ban of all cryptocurrency-related ads of all types starting from June 2018. The move affected all of Google's ad products, meaning companies were not able to serve crypto-related ads on the search engine giant’s own sites, as well as third-party sites in its network.

In January, Google reportedly blacklisted keywords mentioning Ethereum (ETH) on its advertising platform. Google reportedly stated that cryptocurrency exchanges targeting the United States and Japan could be advertised on the platform, and that targeting other countries could be the reason for the ad rejection. Last January, Facebook prohibited ads that use “misleading or deceptive promotional practices,” which reportedly includes ads of cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings.

Article Produced By
Ana Alexandre

Total change in her career took Anastasia into the world of analytics and business information as a researcher and translator in 2010. Some time later she got into FinTech, a dynamically developing segment at the intersection of the financial services and technology. Ana joined Cointelegraph in September 2017.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/major-latin-american-e-commerce-company-bans-cryptocurrency-related-ads

Bakkt Delay Due to CFTC Concerns Over Its Planned Custody of Clients’ Bitcoin: WSJ

Bakkt Delay Due to CFTC Concerns Over Its Planned Custody of Clients’ Bitcoin: WSJ

                                

Much-anticipated crypto platform Bakkt’s plans to store customers’ Bitcoin (BTC)

from its Bitcoin futures could cause further delay on obtaining approval from United States regulator the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The news was reported by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on March 21, citing anonymous sources.

When Bakkt was first announced back in August, the platform had revealed that its first product would be Bitcoin futures that are physically delivered daily, subject to CFTC approval. Bakkt also said that it planned to hold Bitcoin on behalf of its clients via its “physical warehousing.” According to “people familiar with the matter,” in February, the CFTC told the platform that if it were to have custody over its customers’ crypto, it would have to take additional steps to comply. In particular, the CFTC would “require disclosures of the venture’s  business plan and a public comment period, which would have further delayed approval.”

The WSJ reported that the plan for Bakkt to custody its clients’ Bitcoin then “ran aground” that month to avoid said further delays. Bakkt and the CFTC are reportedly now considering other ways the platform can handle the futures contract so that it is compliant with the regulator.  According to the report, the CFTC has outlined various alternative options for Bakkt, including having the firm register as a trust company. However, other sources told the WSJ that such a process could also be time consuming. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Intercontinental Exchange — the operator of the New York Stock Exchange, which is launching Bakkt  —

told the WSJ:

“We are working through the regulatory review process and are looking forward to updating the market soon.”

Bakkt was first slated to debut in November, but delays around obtaining approval from the CFTC pushed back the deadline several times. Nonetheless, according to CFTC commissioner Dan Berkovitz  in an interview this week, the regulator is currently “diligently” working on issuing an approval for multiple crypto-related applications, including for Bakkt. As Cointelegraph wrote today, March 22, Bakkt has reportedly earned a $740 million valuation after it raised over $180 million in funding last year.

Article Produced By
Max Yakubowski

Max Yakubowski has a Ph.D. in Linguistics and Anthropology, with a focus in innovative technology and its cultural and social influence. He joins Cointelegraph after working as a freelance copywriter and blogger.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/bakkt-delay-due-to-cftc-concerns-over-its-planned-custody-of-clients-bitcoin-wsj

Blockchain and AI: Leading the Way to the Fourth Industrial Revolution Against the Odds

Republican Leader Claims Blockchain Can Make US Government More Efficient

Republican Leader Claims Blockchain Can Make US Government More Efficient

                                 

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the current Republican Minority Leader

in the United States House of Representatives, said on Tuesday, March 12, that blockchain can make the U.S. Congress a more efficient and transparent place. Speaking to the Select Committee for Modernization of Congress, McCarthy said that blockchain technology has changed the paradigm of security in the financial world: “Blockchain is changing and revolutionizing the security of the financial industry. Why would we wait around and why wouldn’t we institute blockchain on our own, to be able to check the technology but also the transparency of our own legislative process?”

The lawmaker also suggested that Congress use “21st century technology” to make the government more friendly, but at the same time more accountable. “We have an opportunity to take this window to make this place more effective, more efficient, and most importantly, more accountable," he concluded. McCarthy became a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2007, serving as House Majority Leader from 2014 to 2019, and as House Minority Leader since January 2019. The Select Committee for Modernization of Congress was established during the 116th Congress in early 2019. Democratic congressman Derek Kilmer chairs the committee, which forms recommendations for modernizing the legislative branch.

As Cointelegraph reported in October, U.S. Representatives Doris Matsui and Brett Guthrie proposed a new bill, dubbed the "Blockchain Promotional Act 2018," to the House of Representatives. The bill aimed to create a working group to study the potential impact of blockchain across the policy spectrum, and to establish a common definition of the technology. More recently, the state of Wyoming passed two blockchain-related bills. The first laid groundwork for storing so-called certificate tokens representing stocks on a blockchain “or other secure, auditable database,” and permitted their digital transfer. Another acknowledged the establishment of special purpose depository institutions to serve blockchain-related businesses, as they are often unable to receive services from federally-insured banks.

Article Produced By
Ana Berman

https://cointelegraph.com/news/republican-leader-claims-blockchain-can-make-us-government-more-efficient

Scammers, Satoshi and Tesla Miners: Elon Musk’s Complex Relationship With Crypto

Scammers, Satoshi and Tesla Miners: Elon Musk’s Complex Relationship With Crypto

                                 Scammers, Satoshi and Tesla Miners: Elon Musk's Complex Relationship With Crypto

Technology entrepreneur and Tesla CEO Elon Musk

said that Bitcoin’s (BTC) structure is “quite brilliant,” adding that digital currency is “a far better way to transfer value than pieces of paper.” Notably, that was perhaps the most straightforward comment on cryptocurrencies and blockchain from Musk so far, as he normally tends to avoid the topic. However, there have been a few encounters between the tech mogul and crypto to date — after all, given Musk’s previous experience at PayPal, he couldn’t pass up the innovative digital payment method. Here’s how his relationship with crypto has evolved since 2014, when he made his first public comments about Bitcoin.

October, 2014: Elon Musk argues that Bitcoin will be mostly used for illegal transactions

On Oct. 8, 2014, Musk was interviewed by Walter Isaacson on stage at Vanity Fair's New Establishment Summit. At some point, Isaacson asked the Tesla CEO whether he thought that Bitcoin would be disruptive to fiat currencies, to

which he replied:

“I think Bitcoin is probably a good thing. I think it's primarily going to be a means of doing illegal transactions. But that's not necessarily entirely bad. You know, some things maybe shouldn't be illegal."

Musk then added:

"It will be useful for legal and illegal transactions. Otherwise, it would have no value as a use for illegal transactions, because you have to have a legal-to-illegal bridge."

The entrepreneur followed his comments by disclosing that he didn’t own any BTC at the time.

November 2017: Musk clarifies he is not Satoshi, says he owns “part of BTC”

On Nov. 22, Sahil Gupta, who is allegedly a former intern at SpaceX, wrote a Medium entry speculating that Musk could be Satoshi Nakamoto, the original creator of Bitcoin. Specifically, Gupta emphasized Musk's background in economics, experience in production-level software and history of innovation to postulate that Musk could have invented Bitcoin. The theory was very soon disproved by Musk himself, who tweeted that Gupta’s suggestion “is not true.” The SpaceX CEO added, however, that he now had “part of BTC” a friend sent him a few years back.  

December 2017: Musk says that he has never heard about Bitcoin

On Dec. 22, Neeraj K. Agrawal, an employee of nonprofit crypto research institution CoinCenter, took to Twitter to ask Musk whether he created Bitcoin, to which the tech tycoon replied that he “never heard of it,” linking a satirical article on The Onion titled “Bitcoin Plunge Reveals Possible Vulnerabilities In Crazy Imaginary Internet Money.”

January 2018: Musk references crypto hype to promote a flamethrower  

In January 2018, when major altcoins were enjoying their all-time highs following the Bitcoin’s record-breaking ascent, Musk used the consequent crypto hype to promote a flamethrower released by his tunnel construction firm,

the Boring Company:

“The flamethrower is sentient, its safe word is ‘cryptocurrency’ and it comes with a free blockchain.”

February 2018: Musk comments on Twitter crypto scams, reveals how much BTC he is holding

In February last year, the SpaceX CEO addressed a growing Twitter trend, whereas scammers would pose as famous figures like Musk or Donald Trump and trick users into sending them cryptocurrency. Replying to one of the tweets asking why such spamming was so widespread, Musk claimed that he had already contacted Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey regarding this issue. “I literally own zero cryptocurrency, apart from .25 BTC that a friend sent me many years ago,” he also disclosed, which seems to check out with the aforementioned comment about his crypto holdings. At the time, his BTC tokens amounted to around $2,531. As of now, that number would be even more modest, being set at around the $975 mark.

Interestingly, just few days prior to Musk’s tweet, Tesla’s Amazon Web Service’s (AWS) software container was hacked by cryptojackers. Specifically, fraudsters accessed Tesla’s AWS access credentials by penetrating a nonpassword-protected Kubernetes software container. Then, they used that container to mine Bitcoin for an unknown amount of time. The attack was well coordinated, as the hackers set up their own mining pool software, then connected the malicious script to an “unlisted” endpoint, and kept their CPU usage at a low level to prevent being spotted. Prior to that, in December 2017, an owner of a Tesla S electric car reported that he had been mining Bitcoin with his car’s supercharger, placing a mining rig in the trunk.

March 2018: Musk is spotted holding a book about cryptocurrencies

In March, a photo of Musk holding a book titled “Cryptocurrencies Simply Explained” surfaced online. The picture was taken at South by Southwest festival, where the entrepreneur allegedly took one item from the crowd to sign. According to the book’s author, Julian Hosp, Musk kept the book.

                                 Elon Musk

October 2018: Musk jokes about selling Bitcoin, gets banned from Twitter

On Oct. 22, Tesla CEO provoked some rumors about his company’s involvement with cryptocurrencies by posting a tweet that said “wanna buy Bitcoin?” The image attached to the post was taken from the Cryptocurrency Girls website, which depicts major cryptocurrencies as anime characters. Later, Musk confirmed it was a gag. "I was just joking," he said during a recent podcast hosted by advisory services firm ARK Invest. “Bitcoin and Ethereum scammers were so rampant on Twitter, I decided to join in and I said at one point wanna buy some Bitcoin?” After the tweet, the entrepreneur's account was briefly suspended “because of some automatic rule against selling Bitcoin or something,” as he explained.

November 2018: Fraudsters steal $157,000 worth of crypto after hacking verified Twitter accounts

On Nov. 5, British news agency Telegraph reported that fraudsters stole 120,000 euros (around $157,000), after posing as Musk and promoting a fake cryptocurrency giveaway on Twitter. Specifically, the hackers broke into Twitter accounts of clothing retailer Matalan and Pathé UK, the British arm of the French filmmaker, and posted messages advertising the giveaway. Since both accounts were verified, the followers were more likely to take their message at face value. The post claimed that Musk was leaving Tesla and was giving away free Bitcoin via a typical form for Twitter crypto-related scams: The followers were encouraged to send a small amount of Bitcoin to a given wallet address and promised a much larger amount in return. According to the Telegraph report, more than 300 people had fallen victim to the scam.

February 2019: Musk says that Bitcoin’s structure “is quite brilliant,” adding that there is “some merit to Ethereum as well”

On Feb. 19, ARK Invest published a podcast featuring Musk, who made his stance on cryptocurrencies clearer, and — for the first time since 2014 — made some serious comments on the topic. At first, however, when the interviewer asked Musk to go off-topic and talk about cryptocurrencies, he started to laugh it off. “Crypto? Seriously?” he exclaimed. Nevertheless, in response to a question about whether Bitcoin will become the only native cryptocurrency of the internet,

Musk said:

“I think the Bitcoin structure was quite brilliant. It seems like there’s some merit to Ethereum as well, and maybe some of the others.”

Musk then stressed that “it would not be a good use of Tesla resources to get involved in crypto,” because his company is “trying to accelerate the advance of sustainable energy.” Thus, he pinpointed crypto’s high-energy consumption as

one of its disadvantages:

“One of the downsides of crypto is that, computationally, it is quite energy intensive. So there have to be some kind of constraints on the creation of crypto. But it's very energy intensive to create the incremental Bitcoin at this point.”

As for the pros, Musk noted that he liked cryptocurrencies for their ability to transfer value and

bypass currency controls:

“It bypasses currency controls. Paper money is going away, and crypto is a far better way to transfer value than pieces of paper. That’s for sure.”

Article Produced By
Stephen O'Neal

Stephen O'Neal is a Sociology major from Leeds. He's passionate about crypto and all the stuff you can spend it on.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/scammers-satoshi-and-tesla-miners-elon-musks-complex-relationship-with-crypto

Report: Major South Korean Crypto Exchange Bithumb to Lay Off Up to 50% of Staff

Report: Major South Korean Crypto Exchange Bithumb to Lay Off Up to 50% of Staff

                                   

Major South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb

is reportedly cutting up to 50 percent of its workforce, a report from CoinDesk Korea stated on March 18. According to the report, an unnamed official has confirmed that the exchange will reduce its staff from 310 (at the start of March) to around 150, and is offering a voluntary redundancy plan and training

support to employees:

“Voluntary retirement is part of our support program for former employees and is intended to provide assistance and training for job placement. Apart from that, [Bithumb’s] trading volume has decreased compared to the previous year, [so] we are trying to provide internal measures. We will continue to add necessary personnel for various new businesses.”

To press time, Bithumb has not responded to Cointelegraph’s request for comment. Amid the crypto winter, Bithumb’s reported move to reduce its head count has been preceded by a host of other firms in the sector; mining giant Bitmain, blockchain software firm ConsenSys, decentralized social network Steemit and crypto exchanges Coinsquare and Huobi are among those to have made significant cuts in recent months.According to CoinMarketCap (CMC), Bithumb has seen roughly $1.3 billion in trades over the 24 hours before press time. The exchange was removed from CMC’s global exchange rankings in January 2018, due to the site’s concerns over reportedly “extreme divergence in prices from the rest of the world” on the platform and its fellow South Korean exchanges.

Article Produced By
Marie Huillet

Marie Huillet is an independent filmmaker, with a background in journalism and publishing. Nomadic by nature, she’s lived in five different countries this decade. She’s fascinated by Blockchain technologies’ potential to reshape all aspects of our lives.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/report-major-south-korean-crypto-exchange-bithumb-to-lay-off-up-to-50-of-staff

From Stablecoins to Blockchain Trials: Japanese Players Are Going Crypto as the Local Government Is Overseeing the Market

From Stablecoins to Blockchain Trials: Japanese Players Are Going Crypto as the Local Government Is Overseeing the Market

                                 

The beginning of the year was particularly eventful

for the Japanese crypto ecosystem, which is generally considered to be a major part of the industry. First of all, Japan’s Central Bank (BoJ) issued a study on the role of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) in the current monetary system, a topic that was widely discussed by the country’s officials last year. Secondly, major domestic trading company and investment bank, Marubeni Corporation and Daiwa Securities Group, reported blockchain-related advancements in their businesses. Finally, local banking giant Mizuho Financial Group announced the launch of its custom stablecoin. Time to observe this news closer and see what has been happening with crypto in Japan.

It’s still unclear whether Japan will issue a CBDC

Japan’s authorities have been notably hesitant about the idea of introducing a CBDC, which might seem surprising at first, given that cryptocurrencies can be used as a legally accepted means of payment in the country (although they are not considered “legal tender”). CBDCs — just like Bitcoin (BTC) and altcoins — are also virtual currencies. The main difference is that they are issued and controlled by a federal regulator. Hence, CBDCs are not decentralized, unlike many digital assets. Basically, they represent fiat money, albeit in digital form. Each CBDC unit acts as a secure digital equivalent to a paper bill and can be powered with distributed ledger technology (DLT). Consequently, if central bank decides to issue a CBDC, it becomes not only its regulator, but an account holder as well, as people would have to store and access their digital money via this bank. That places CBDC-issuing central banks on a par with private banks.

CBDCs could be seen as central banks’ response to the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies, which bypass regulators’ purview due to their decentralized design. Federally-issued currencies, in turn, aim to take some of the main features from crypto — namely the convenience and security — and combine them with the proven attributes of the conventional banking system, in which money circulation is regulated and reserve-backed. At this point, the BoJ has publicly criticized the concept of CBDCs twice. First, in April 2018, its deputy governor, Masayoshi Amamiya, declared that such currencies can have a negative impact on the existing financial system. Specifically, he expressed his concern about taking on the role of private

banks:

“The issuance of central bank digital currencies for general use could be analogous to allowing households and firms to directly have accounts in the central bank. This may have a large impact on the aforementioned two-tiered currency system and private banks' financial intermediation.”

Then, on Oct. 20, Masayoshi Amamiya expressed his doubts regarding the effectiveness of CBDCs, adding that his agency won’t be issuing its digital currency in the near future. Specifically, Amamiya responded to a theory suggesting that CBDCs can help governments overcome the "zero lower bound" — a situation in which interest rates fall to zero and the central bank loses the capacity to stimulate the economy. According to this approach, a CBDC would enable central banks to charge more interest on deposits from individuals and firms, and hence motivate them to spend money and vitalize the financial system.

The deputy governor questioned that theory, claiming that charging interest on central bank-issued currencies would only work if central banks fully eliminate physical money from the local economy. Otherwise, the public would still continue converting digital currencies into cash in order to avoid paying interest. The elimination of fiat money in Japan is “not an option for us as a central bank,” since cash is a popular method of payment in the country, Amamiya added. Indeed, Japanese society is still mostly cash-based, as about 65 percent of transactions are reportedly done in paper money (which is more than double that of other developed economies).

The BOJ deputy governor continued that thought by stressing that his agency is not planning on creating a CBDC that can be widely used by the public for settlement and payment purposes. The shift to bank-issued crypto from the existing sovereign currencies seems to be "quite a high hurdle,” as crypto assets are often associated with speculative investments and do not represent a stable means of payment, he noted. Further, the central bank examined the role of CBDCs in the current monetary system in a report released on Feb. 19. The paper was written by representatives of the University of Tokyo and the BoJ. The report divided possible CBDCs into two categories, the first being those accessible to the general public for daily transactions instead of banknotes and the other as those limited for large-value settlements.

Interestingly, after explaining that CBDCs of the latter kind wouldn’t bring a lot of new features to the monetary system — as it has already been digitized — the report’s authors focused on the first category throughout most of the document. The report stressed that DLT could be applied to such token-based CBDCs. The working paper noted that blockchain-based CBDC could lower the level of anonymity of its users, as cash money cannot be tracked and hence is used for criminal activities. Here, the authors referenced the example of the People's Bank of China (PBoC), which announced its intent to issue a digital currency to curb tax evasion back in 2016. Notably, the document doesn’t necessarily reflect the official views of the BoJ and was published to stimulate further discussion on the topic, which suggests that Japanese officials have not given up on the idea of issuing a CBDC.

The FSA continues to apply scrutiny toward the local crypto industry

The Financial Services Agency (FSA), the national financial regulator, is known to have a tight grip on local digital asset exchanges. It comes as no surprise, given that the country has witnessed the two largest crypto hacks in history: namely, last year’s outlandish $532 million Coincheck hack and the notorious crash of Tokyo-based Mt. Gox. In the wake of those security breaches, the watchdog has introduced numerous precautions, including on-site inspections of exchanges’ offices and mandatory risk management system reports.

As per Japan’s Payment Services Act, amended in April 2017, all digital currency exchanges in the country are required to be registered with the FSA. The agency has granted the most compliant players with licenses. Currently, the pool of exchanges cleared to serve the Japanese market currently is represented by 17 platforms: Money Partners, Liquid (previously known as Quoine), Bitflyer, BitBank, SBI Virtual Currencies, GMO Coin, Btcbox, Bitpoint, Fisco Virtual Currency, Zaif, Tokyo Bitcoin Exchange, Bit Arg Exchange Tokyo, FTT Corporation, Xtheta Corporation, Huobi and Coincheck. The latter managed to secure its license just recently, almost a year after it suffered from a major hack.

Notably, the agency’s tough supervision has prompted some major players to quit the Japanese market. Thus, Binance, one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges that had once opened an office in the country, turned to Malta — the famously crypto-friendly country — after the Japanese regulator had slapped it with a warning in March 2018. Similarly, local social messaging app Line has also decided to exclude the domestic market prior to the launch of its cryptocurrency exchange, citing local regulatory difficulties.

Nevertheless, the FSA’s severity hasn’t scared everyone off. As many as 190 exchanges are reportedly pending the agency’s approval to enter the local market. Perhaps the most notable example here is United States-based Coinbase, which has made positive remarks about Japan’s crypto regulatory climate in the past, saying that the FSA’s intense focus on security is “good for us.” Given that Coinbase originally planned to establish its operation in Japan within 2018, the financial agency is likely to approve or decline its application at some point in the next few months. Moreover, the Japanese arm of the internet giant Yahoo will reportedly open their own crypto exchange “in April 2019 or later.” Other players that will potentially open a crypto exchange in Japan include Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, the largest domestic bank, and Money Forward, the company behind a popular financial management application.

In December 2018, the FSA published a draft report that introduced the new regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the country. In it, the agency continued to strengthen security requirements for local crypto exchanges, focusing on private keys management, among other things. Further, the FSA urged players to join the Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association (JVCEA), a self-regulatory body comprised of domestic industry participants. Moreover, the financial watchdog suggested that ICOs might become subject to securities regulation in the future. Indeed, previously, local media reported that the agency was going to introduce new ICO regulations to protect investors from fraud.One of the FSA’s potential next steps is to regulate unregistered firms that solicit investments in cryptocurrencies. According to Cointelegraph Japan, there is a loophole in the country’s existing regulatory framework that allows unidentified companies that collect funds in crypto rather than fiat currencies to stay in a gray zone, and the watchdog intends to close it.

Industry players have asked to reduce the current tax rate

In February 2019, the Japan Association of New Economy (JANE), a business industry association led by Hiroshi Mikitani, the CEO of Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, asked the FSA to reduce the current tax rate for crypto trading income. Specifically, JANE inquired whether it was possible to tax crypto in compliance with progressive taxation instead of general taxation. According to Cointelegraph Japan, income from trading cryptocurrencies is currently taxed at 55 percent in Japan. Imposing progressive taxation on crypto gains would reduce it to 20 percent — the same rate that is applied to stocks and forex markets in the country. The association has also asked the FSA to impose no tax on crypto-to-crypto transactions.

Previously, in October 2018, local news agency Sankei reported that the Japanese National Tax Agency was planning to adjust the tax filing system for cryptocurrencies in order to corroborate that local traders report their gains. Currently, such profits are classified as “miscellaneous income” in the country. Basically, Japanese crypto holders have to pay between 15 and 55 percent on gains declared on their annual tax filings. The top amount applies to people who earn more than 40 million yen ($365,000) annually.

Stablecoins and bank-controlled digital currencies are on the rise in Japan

Over the past few months, at least two major digital currencies developed by Japan’s major banks and IT-industry players have received important updates, , the origins of which – as well as a detailing of related projects – was covered in a separate Cointelegraph article.

J-coin

Japanese banking giant Mizuho Financial Group, which has over $1.8 trillion in total assets, will reportedly launch its bespoke stablecoin for payments and remittance services as soon as March 1. Dubbed “J-Coin,” the new digital currency platform aims to directly link existing bank accounts with digital wallets. According to reports, the project is being developed in a partnership with around 60 counterpart financial institutions — which host around 56 million user accounts combined. The currency will reportedly be managed by a dedicated mobile app, J-Coin Pay, which uses QR codes at checkout to complete retail payments. As per local financial newspaper Nikkei Asian Review, the currency will resemble a stablecoin fixed at a price of 1 yen (~$0.01) per unit, while transfers between bank accounts and J-Coin wallets are set to be free of charge.

GYEN

In February, domestic IT giant GMO Internet confirmed its plans to launch a yen-backed stablecoin called GYEN this year. There are few details about the project at the moment. The company’s representatives has so far only revealed that the firm has set up a subsidiary and appointed a person responsible for GYEN operations to issue the stablecoin in 2019. The company had to shut down some of its other crypto-related operations, however. In late December, GMO announced it was quitting the Bitcoin mining hardware sector, citing “extraordinary loss” in Q4 last year. In Q3, GMO's cryptocurrency projects reportedly brought the company around 2.6 billion yen ($22.8 million) despite “the harsh external environment.”

Japan’s largest firms are actively tapping blockchain for their business

Numerous Japanese private firms — including banks, brokerages, trading giants and IT players — have announced blockchain-related news within the past few months, cementing Japan’s reputation as one of the most technology-focused countries. Here are the main companies, along with their projects:

Banks and brokerage

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), Japan’s second-largest bank

In February, SMBC completed a proof-of-concept (PoC) using blockchain consortium R3’s Marco Polo trade finance platform. Marco Polo is a Corda-powered venture developed by R3 and Irish tech firm TradeIX, connecting banks via a trade network. SMBC, which is currently the only Japanese bank participating in the Marco Polo scheme, said it had partnered with Mitsui & Co. — one of the largest “sogo shosha” (general trading companies) in Japan — to enhance efficiency in trade processes. “[The] PoC was conducted between SMBC and Mitsui & Co. which aims to improve productivity in its trade operations, by testing modules such as Receivable Finance and Payment Commitment (Payment Undertaking),” the press release explained,

adding:

“SMBC expects to commercialize Marco Polo in the first half of FY2019 [the financial year 2019] after verification of the PoC.”

Daiwa Securities Group, Japan’s second-largest securities brokerage

Daiwa Securities had also announced the completion of a blockchain PoC. The pilot project, dubbed “JPX Proof-of-Concept Testing for Utilization of Blockchain / DLT in Capital Market Infrastructure,” allegedly involved 26 companies, including financial institutions, system providers and institutional investors. The reported goal of the pilot was to increase the efficiency of blockchain tech in the post-trade process. According to the results of the trial, the blockchain system is expected to reduce operational costs and allow for the easier development of new products and services.

SBI Holdings, the first bank to own a cryptocurrency exchange in Japan

SBI Holdings has also struck an agreement with R3 to work in Japan, purportedly to develop local use of its Corda blockchain platform. According to the official announcement, the new joint venture will “support provision and introduction of the Corda license, arrange schemes for its actual use beforehand, as well as promote collaboration with overseas offices of R3 and other Corda partners.”

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), the world’s fifth-largest bank

On Feb. 20, MUFG announced it will launch a new blockchain-based payment system in collaboration with U.S. content delivery network Akamai. Titled the “Global Open Network,” the platform aims to utilize MUFG’s payment industry reach to strengthen its position in the increasingly competitive blockchain payments market. The project is scheduled to launch in the first half of 2020. Previously, MUFG had revealed its initiative to establish a remittance corridor with Brazil using Ripple (XRP).

IT

Itochu, one of the five-largest companies in Japan

On Feb. 1, Itochu announced the start of a PoC aimed to develop a blockchain traceability system, in which buyers and sellers can record the date, time, location and other transaction details on blockchain through a mobile app. The press release stresses that the start of the new trial is contributing “to the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals listed in ‘The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ adopted by the United Nations.”

It also adds:

“The aim of developing a blockchain traceability system [is to ensure] stable procurement and supply of raw material for our investment companies and trading parties, improving the traceability of its distribution.”

Line, host of Japan’s major messenger app

As 2018 was drawing to a close, Line signed a memorandum of understanding with local financial player Nomura Holdings to form a blockchain alliance. Nomura — which provides investment, financing and related services to individual, institutional and government customers — Line and LVC Corporation — which oversees messenger's digital asset and blockchain business units — will reportedly sign a formal contract by the end of March 2019. More details will be announced closer to the date. As Cointelegraph previously reported, Line is actively involved in developing crypto products. For instance, in January 2018, the company announced it would launch its own crypto exchange and in-app trading space for its 200 million active monthly users.

Energy and utilities

Marubeni Corporation, Japanese trading company that has expanded into the U.S. and Europe In late February, Marubeni teamed up with U.S.-based blockchain startup LO3 Energy to use the technology to increase automation and efficiency in its renewable energy offerings. “The Japanese energy sector is in the midst of a drastic transition, and there are increasing numbers of private power producers and suppliers interested in developing new customer offerings particularly in the renewable energy space,” LO3 Energy CEO Lawrence Orsini commented in the press release: “Initially this project is internally focused, but it is very much driven by the desire from Marubeni to explore the opportunities that blockchain management systems can offer in the transaction of energy throughout Japan.”

Fujitsu, Japan’s IT firm, a Global 500 company

On Jan. 29, Fujitsu reported that it successfully tested a blockchain-based solution to address inefficiencies in electricity surplus management. Specifically, Fujitsu partnered with local power distribution company Eneres to use the technology to increase the success rates of power sharing, which is administered through a process known as Demand Response (DR). DR is an agreement between utility companies and consumers, aimed to anticipate periods of peak demand by ensuring surplus power is available to those who need it. Fujitsu claims that, in its current form, DR is an inefficient mechanism and blockchain has proven to improve it. “Fujitsu has now devised a system in which electricity consumers can efficiently exchange among themselves the electricity surpluses they have produced through their own electricity generation or power savings,” the press release reads, noting: “The result was an approximately 40% improvement to the DR success rate.”

Article Produced By
Stephen O'Neal

Stephen O'Neal is a Sociology major from Leeds. He's passionate about crypto and all the stuff you can spend it on.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/from-stablecoins-to-blockchain-trials-japanese-players-are-going-crypto-as-the-local-government-is-overseeing-the-market

Coinbase Pro Increases Fees, Updates Market Structure ‘to Increase Liquidity’

Coinbase Pro Increases Fees, Updates Market Structure ‘to Increase Liquidity’

            

Major United States-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase

announced a new market structure for its professional trading platform, Coinbase Pro, in a blog post published on March 15. Per the announcement, the changes aim to increase liquidity, enhance price discovery and ensure smoother price movements. The changes include a new fee structure, reportedly designed to increase liquidity, updated order maximums, new order increment sizes, the turning off of stop market orders and added market order protection points.

According to the post, Coinbase Pro and Coinbase Prime — the firm’s institutional trading platform — will cease their support for stop market orders. The announcement further explains that all stop orders must now be submitted as limit orders and include a limit price. On the other hand, the market protection points that will be introduced both to Coinbase Prime and Coinbase Pro users will amount to 10 percent for all market orders. The statement explains that market orders that move the price more than 10 percent will stop executing and return a partial fill.

Lastly, the post warns the exchange’s user base that the platform will be offline on March 22 from 6:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. PDT. The changes were met with some skepticism and negativity from the crypto community on social media. Economist and trader Alex Krüger complained on Twitter about “Coinbase Pro raising fees for smaller clients by 33% while lowering fees for larger clients.” The same user also further commented that “in a rational world, most Coinbase users would now move to Binance.”

In the same Twitter thread, Krüger also questioned Coinbase’s decision to disable stop market orders, claiming that stop-limit orders sometimes fail to execute because of slippage, suggesting using far off limits on limit orders as a workaround. Still, Krüger also admitted that those changes should lead to increased liquidity and trading activity. Another crypto trader on Twitter suggested that the new fee structure is seemingly targeting new users entering the cryptocurrency space,

concluding:

“Pretty random day to hike all the fees up, Coinbase anticipating a new bull run perhaps?”

As Cointelegraph recently reported, Coinbase Pro announced support for altcoin Stellar Lumens (XLM). Just yesterday news broke that publicly traded U.S.-based company Riot Blockchain has filed with the Securities and Exchanges Commission to launch a new regulated cryptocurrency exchange, called RiotX, in the U.S. by the end of Q2 2019.

Article Produced By
Adrian Zmudzinski

Adrian is a newswriter based out of Pisa, Italy. He's passionate about cryptocurrency, digital rights, IT, tech and futurology and likes to think about the future in a positive way.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/coinbase-pro-increases-fees-updates-market-structure-to-increase-liquidity