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

mufg

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

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.

Kidnapped Bitcoin Exchange Exec Freed After Paying $1 Million Ransom

bitcoin exchange

The director of a UK-based bitcoin exchange kidnapped earlier this week has been released after he paid his captors a ransom of more than $1 million in bitcoins.

Pavel Lerner, 40, was kidnapped on December 26 while leaving his office in Kiev, Ukraine. According to local media reports, a group of men wearing balaclavas grabbed him and forced him into a black Mercedes-Benz.

uk bitcoin exchange
Photo from Pavel Lerner’s Facebook Page

Lerner is an executive at EXMO, a UK-based cryptocurrency exchange that processes approximately $100 to $125 million in trades on a daily basis, primarily against the US dollar and the Russian ruble.

After spending nearly two days in captivity, Lerner was released on December 28 after paying a ransom of more than $1 million in bitcoins, according to a report in the Financial Times.

“He was kidnapped by an armed gang for the purpose of extorting bitcoins,” Anton Gerashchenko, a Ukranian official, told the publication, adding: “We have operative information that he paid more than $1m worth of bitcoins.”

Geraschenko said that Lerner was in a “state of shock” when he was released and was “very lucky that he remained alive.”

On Thursday — while Lerner was in captivity — EXMO revealed that it had been the subject of a DDOS attack, but it is not known whether the two incidents are related. The exchange assured users that, even in Lerner’s absence, the trading platform was operating as usual and that user funds remained safe.

As BlockExplorer explained its previous article on Lerner’s kidnapping, the incident is the latest in a small but growing trend of individuals being targeted by criminals for their cryptocurrency wealth.

Because decentralized cryptocurrency transactions are uncensorable and, in most cases, users retain control of their holdings, cryptocurrency executives and investors prove to be attractive targets for criminal enterprises.

Consequently, users should recognizing the risks of publicizing both their personal holdings and their affiliation with the industry in general and take steps to secure their investments against theft, just as they would with traditional assets.

Featured Image from Pexels

UK Bitcoin Exchange CEO Kidnapped in Ukraine

The chief executive of UK-based bitcoin exchange EXMO has reportedly been kidnapped in Ukraine.

Pavel Lerner, 40, was leaving his office in Kiev on December 26 when he was pulled into a black Mercedes-Benz by a group of balaclava-wearing men, according to a local media report.

Lerner is the managing director of EXMO, a UK-based bitcoin exchange that processes about $100 million worth of trades on a daily basis, according to CoinMarketCap. Though based in the UK, EXMO’s most popular trading pairs are against the US dollar and the Russian ruble.

uk bitcoin exchange
Photo from Pavel Lerner’s Facebook Page

EXMO has not discussed the incident on its blog or social media channels, but the Telegraph reports that the company told a Russian broadcaster that the kidnapping would not affect the exchange’s day-to-day operations.

“We are doing everything possible to speed up the search of Pavel Lerner,” the statement said. “Any information regarding his whereabouts is very much appreciated. Despite the situation, the exchange is working as usual. We also want to stress that nature of Pavel’s job at EXMO doesn’t assume access either to storages or any personal data of users. All users funds are absolutely safe.”

On Dec. 28, EXMO revealed that it was suffering from a DDOS attack, but it is not currently known whether the two incidents are related.

Lerner’s kidnapping comes just weeks after a New York man allegedly stole $1.8 million in ether after kidnapping an unnamed victim and forcing them at gunpoint to hand over their mobile phone and private keys.

Authorities have not revealed the motive behind Lerner’s kidnapping, but both of these incidents highlight the inherent risks of “being your own bank.”

Individuals who are associated with cryptocurrency services like Lerner are obvious targets for nefarious individuals, as criminals may believe they can force them to transfer funds from company wallets.

However, as the earlier case demonstrates, ordinary cryptocurrency users are at risk, too, especially if they have publicly-revealed the size of their holdings or the fact that they invested in the markets at an early date.

Consequently, users may want to consider concealing their wealth from their family members, friends, and — most importantly — social media profiles.

Featured Image from Pexels

Poloniex Review: An American Cryptocurrency Exchange with BTC, ETH, XMR, and USDT Trading Pairs

Poloniex is a United States based cryptocurrency exchange founded in January 2014 by Tristan D’Agosta. The American company is currently registered in Wilmington, Delaware with a corporate office in Boston. It accepts only cryptocurrencies deposits (Including USDT) and has a large number of trading pairs – one of the largest, in fact.

Poloniex has a large amount of liquidity and as such is recommended for professional and mid to high-level traders, of which there are almost 60,000 online at a given time.

Poloniex currently ranks #1 on the BlockExplorer Top 25 Cryptocurrency Exchanges List.

Poloniex Cryptocurrency Exchange Summary:

poloniex cryptoName: Poloniex
URL: https://www.poloniex.com
Total trading pairs: 101
Founded: 2013
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.10% – 0.25%
Margin trading: yes
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Requirements

Limits

Level 1 Email, First & Last Name, Country $2,000, USD Margin Trading Enabled
Level 2 Complete Address, Phone Number, Date of Birth 7,000 USD
Level 3 SSN, Scan of Photo ID, Selfie holding your ID $25,000 USD
Enhanced Verification Contact Support Greater than $25,000 USD

Poloniex Exchange Verification Process

Poloniex’s verification process is simple and is only required for withdrawal of currency. All users will need to enter their full name, date of birth, and address to start, after which webcam based verification of photo ID and possibly a utility bill will take place – This involves holding the requested identification document next to your face and allowing your webcam to take an image.

Once verification is confirmed users can withdraw $25,000 equivalent per day, which can be increased by contacting Poloniex support. It is recommended that users get verification before beginning to trade, as without verification you can only deposit and trade currency.

The exchange has a tiered fee system using a maker and taker model. In this model, trades happen between makers and takers, where the taker places an order to match a maker’s order. Because makers add liquidity to the market they are given a fee discount. Fees are calculated as an average of trading activity, with higher activity leading to lower fees. You can find a breakdown of volume to fees available here.