Japan’s Largest Bank to Launch Cryptocurrency Exchange for Its Yen-Pegged Token

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Japan’s largest bank, MUFG, plans to launch its own digital currency and add a cryptocurrency exchange to its growing list of blockchain-related services.

MUFG to Launch Cryptocurrency Exchange

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), which also ranks as one of the five largest banks in the world, intends to become the first Japanese bank to open a licensed cryptocurrency exchange, according to a report from The Mainichi, a media outlet based in Tokyo.

Following its launch later this year, MUFG plans to use the exchange as a platform to issue MUFG Coin, a yen-pegged token that will operate on a private blockchain controlled by the bank.

Strictly speaking, MUFG Coin’s value will not be directly fixed to the yen, because Japanese financial services regulations require that transfers of more than one million yen (~$9,000) be conducted through a bank.

Consequently, a crypto-token that was truly pegged to the yen could not operate as a fully-functional currency.

Instead, the bank will “suppress” the price of MUFG Coin on its exchange to ensure that each token is always worth approximately one yen while also retaining the currency’s utility as a payment mechanism.

The report said that MUFG has already informed Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) of its plans to open the exchange and use it to issue MUFG Coin, although the bank has not officially submitted an application for licensure.

MUFG has not revealed what other cryptoassets, if any, will trade on its exchange alongside MUFG Coin.

However, the bank has announced the creation of a custodial service for bitcoin traders. Customers who opt-in to the service will have their holdings placed in segregated accounts that are separate from the exchange’s assets, and these assets will be guaranteed by the trust bank in the event that they are compromised.

Although this service will be available to traders at all participating bitcoin exchanges, it would seem likely that MUFG would seek to integrate it into its own service as well.

Japanese Banks Race to Issue Digital Currencies

Notably, MUFG is not the only bank in cryptocurrency-friendly Japan that intends to issue its own digital currency.

A consortium led by Mizuho Financial Group has announced that they will issue the yen-pegged J-Coin later this year.

Mizuho has said that one of its chief priorities is integrating J-Coin with Alibaba’s Alipay mobile payment platform.

Featured Image from Wikimedia Commons/Rebirth10

BlackWallet Hack Nets Thief $400,000 in Stellar Lumens

More than $400,000 worth of Stellar lumens (XLM) were allegedly stolen in connection with the reported hack of wallet service BlackWallet.

Cybersecurity researcher Kevin Beaumont broke the news on Jan .13, explaining that BlackWallet’s domain name service (DNS) server had been compromised in what is known as a DNS hijacking attack.

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Source: Twitter

Simply put, the attack allowed the hacker to redirect the DNS entry of BlackWallet’s domain to his or her own server, which contained a copy of the original website with one key difference: the attacker injected code into the wallet that automatically stole balances greater than 20 XLM.

Consequently, much like the DNS hijack that decentralized cryptocurrency exchange EtherDelta suffered last month, users’ funds were stolen after they entered their private keys into the account viewer.

An individual claiming to be the creator of BlackWallet posted a statement on the Stellar subreddit warning users about the attack, but the thief nevertheless made off with approximately 670,000 XLM, according to Bleeping Computer, worth roughly $419,000 at the present exchange rate.

The creator apologized profusely for the hack and said that the attacker had managed to access the service’s hosting provider account.

“I am sincerely sorry about this and hope that we will get the funds back. I am in talks with my hosting provider to get as much information about the hacker and will see what can be done with it,” the statement read.

He or she added that while the hack only affected users who accessed the fake BlackWallet website, all former users may want to take the extra precaution of using the official Stellar account viewer to move their funds to a new wallet.

The hacker wasted no time laundering the funds following the attack, and at the time of writing approximately 98 XLM remained in the wallet associated with the hack.

The attacker apparently sent at least a portion of the funds to cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex, but it is not currently known whether Bittrex learned of the hack in time to freeze the funds before the thief could launder and withdraw them from the exchange.

Featured Image from Pixabay

I Gave: An Ethereum Smart Contract Based Charity Platform

I Gave is a new DAO (Decentralised Autonomous Organisation) that is centered around allowing users to donate Ethereum to a charitable organization. Its current implementation is open source and was launched in January 2018 and is in the form of a private testnet. I Gave’s underlying technology is Ethereum smart contracts, much like cryptokittes.

The Idea behind I Gave

I Gave allows donors to donate to charitable organizations using ethereum in exchange for a nonfungible token. This token represents a “need” for the organization. Its whitepaper gives the example of “1 bottle of water” as a need represented by a token. A specific number of the non-fungible tokens are available when a fundraising campaign is started. And the fundraiser ends either when there are no more non-fungible tokens left or when the end date of the fundraiser passes. Either way, at the end of the fundraiser, there will be no further tokens of that type issued. The whitepaper also mentions a fungible token to be used for voting on specific issues, such as marking specific ethereum addresses as ‘Partners’. Partners do not pay the fees involved in starting a fundraising campaign.

ICO

I Gave will begin with an Initial Coin Offering intended to raise at least 100,000,000 IGV (100 ETH), and at maximum 50,000,000,000 IGV (500,000 ETH). 20% of the ICO will go into a development fund, with the rest going to those that purchased the IGV.  IGV owners will be able to withdraw their ETH if the ICO fails. The ICO has two failure conditions. The first failure condition is not reaching the 100,000,000 IGV goals within the timeframe of 12 months.  And the second is up to the founder of I Gave, who can end the ICO at any time.

 

I Gave is an extremely interesting idea and seems to have a well thought out plan for rollout and long-term use.  And if it succeeds,  could be a great asset to charitable organizations everywhere.

Featured image from I Gave’s GitHub

World’s Second-Largest Money Transfer Service, MoneyGram, to Adopt Ripple’s XRP Token

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MoneyGram, the world’s second-largest money transfer service, has announced that it will adopt Ripple’s XRP token in an open-ended pilot program designed to increase the efficiency of international payments.

The Dallas-based firm, second in size only to Western Union, announced on Thursday that it will pilot the use of XRP in its internal payment flows.

The partnership will see MoneyGram adopt xRapid, Ripple’s on-demand liquidity product, which uses XRP to settle cross-border payments in real time at a much lower cost than using legacy payment systems.

“The payments problem doesn’t just affect banks, it also affects companies like MoneyGram, which help people get money to the ones they care about,” said Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple. “By using a digital asset like XRP that settles in three seconds or less, our clients can move money as quickly as information.”

“Ripple is at the forefront of blockchain technology and we look forward to piloting xRapid,” said Alex Holmes, chief executive officer of MoneyGram, in a press release. “We’re hopeful it will increase efficiency and improve services to MoneyGram’s customers.”

Although a number of banks and financial institutions — including household names like American Express — have conducted blockchain trials using RippleNet, the company’s enterprise blockchain, they have shied away from integrating XRP.

Consequently, many critics had stated that the ripple price’s recent rally — which saw the value of XRP soar nearly 30,000 percent in 2017 — was unwarranted relative to actual XRP adoption.

Though perhaps not complete vindication of XRP, MoneyGram’s announcement should make at least a minor dent in that narrative, a dent that could deepen if Ripple’s recent claim that at least three major money transfer firms will adopt XRP in 2018 is borne out.

“And to be clear,” Garlinghouse added today in a tweet, the “MoneyGram announcement is one step in a marathon ahead to truly make XRP the global liquidity solution for payment providers and banks.”

Though Ripple has not confirmed it publicly, this announcement could be the first fruit from the $300 million RippleNet Accelerator Program, which the company launched last quarter to spur XRP adoption among financial institutions. Through the program, institutions can receive rebates and incentives to integrate XRP into their payment systems, making pilot program’s such as MoneyGram’s much more attractive.

The ripple price traded up on the news, briefly rising as high as $2.25 before pulling back to a present level of $2.08

Featured Image from Flickr/Mike Mozart

South Korea Cryptocurrency Trading Ban Is Still Undecided

south korea cryptocurrency trading ban

South Korea’s Blue House has clarified that there is not a cryptocurrency ban being considered by the country. Even though two Korean Bitcoin exchanges were raided, the government is not planning to ban cryptocurrency any time soon. They even further clarified that many different government organizations would be coordinating to fully allow regulated cryptocurrency trading.

Yu Yong-seok, a spokesperson for the South Korean Ministry of Justice clarified to Korean press that their previous words were not indicative of the entire South Korean government’s stance he said that the position that cryptocurrency was only used for gambling “[…] is a position of the Ministry of Justice, not a government position.”

South Korea cryptocurrency trading ban won’t be happening in the short term

The political party currently in the Blue House, the South Korean equivalent of the American White House, commented:

“The government announcement should be based on detailed reviews and coordination. If there is a problem, we should warn and prepare in advance. “The behavior we showed today was the opposite. Minister of Justice Park Sang-ki, who is responsible for the announcement today, has lost confidence.”

Some are even petitioning for Attorney General Park’s removal from office. The South Korean Ministry of Strategy and Finance additionally revealed that they first heard of the supposed Korean cryptocurrency trading ban of 2018 through media reports – and were shocked. Cryptocurrency is at a size now that individual arms of government can’t act alone. Even in the United States, the different statuses of Bitcoin in different regulatory bodies has somewhat stifled innovation, even just at the federal level not including individual states’ additional requirements such as the BitLicense.