square cash

South Korea’s financial watchdog has set a deadline banning anonymous digital currency trading accounts in the country.

According to a news report, six South Korean banks will start issuing new trading accounts for cryptocurrencies from the 30 January. This means that investors within the country who wish to continue trading will be required to have real-name bank accounts. The new system will also see digital currency exchanges sharing users’ transaction data with banks.

In addition to the banning of anonymous accounts, foreigners and underage investors will also be excluded from opening digital currency accounts in South Korea.

Six banks are involved, including Shinhan Bank, NH Bank, and the Industrial Bank of Korea.

According to Kim Yong-beom, vice chairman of the Financial Services Commission (FSC), existing anonymous accounts will be banned the same day that the banks introduce the new verification system.

Yong-beom added:

Nobody, including the government, guarantees the value of cryptocurrencies. Given its highly volatile nature, please be cautious when making investment decisions.

The digital currency market has been experiencing rapid growth in South Korea among investors; however, with the cryptocurrency exchanges unregulated in the country there is no way to protect investors if the market should the currency drop in value.

This latest measure is part of the South Korean government’s attempt to curb speculation in the market, amid growing fears that the currency is in a bubble waiting to burst.

Bithumb, one of the nation’s three largest cryptocurrency exchanges, welcomed the government’s new approach and said that it will work with its new policy:

We will make efforts to build a more transparent and healthy transaction system with the real-name trading platform.

This announcement comes on the tail of South Korea’s government announcing that it is planning to tax digital currency exchanges. Those who had an annual income of more than 20 billion won ($18.7 million) last year face the possibility of having to pay 22 percent corporate and 2.2 percent local income tax this year.

Bithumb is expected to pay 60 billion won in corporate and local income taxes after it generated roughly 317.6 billion won last year.

Regardless of these measures, an official told the Telegraph that the government is still considering an outright ban.

India, too, is taking measures to curb frenzy that has been seen in the crypto industry. Some of the country’s biggest banks including Axis Bank, Yes Bank, and ICICI have frozen all, but a few digital currency accounts.

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

decentralized blockchain diploma university of nicosia

The University of Nicosia (UNIC) has once again broken new ground in university adoption of blockchain technology by being the first university in the world to publish all diplomas of all graduating students (Bachelor’s, Master’s, PhD) on the Bitcoin blockchain, as of the graduating class of Spring 2017.

The University of Nicosia was previously the first university in the world to publish academic certificates on the blockchain (Spring 2014) and, subsequently, to publish diplomas on the blockchain on a trial basis (Spring 2015). It is now the first university in the world to move from trials to full implementation of this pioneering new technology, for all graduating students, on an ongoing basis.

The new service was announced by UNIC’s CEO, Mr. Antonis Polemitis, during his opening remarks at “DECENTRALIZED 2017”, a business and academic summit relating to the technical and societal implications of decentralization, cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, organized by UNIC in Limassol, Cyprus on 2-3 November 2017.

Mr Polemitis said: “We believe in a future where everyone has ownership of their own personal data and can share and authenticate it at will, while still ensuring strong privacy. This effort at UNIC is a step towards this decentralized future that will unfold over the next five to ten years. We view our role as a university to be focused on the cutting edge of these technological shifts, both in theory and in practice. I am very proud of our research team’s work. The technological platform was developed entirely internally at the University of Nicosia and includes some very interesting work on difficult topics, such as revocation. We look forward to discussing these developments with our colleagues in academia, business and the broader cryptocurrency and blockchain community at our dedicated summit.”

Specifically, all diplomas issued to the graduating class of Spring 2017 have been digitized and their electronic fingerprint (“hash”) has been added to the public Bitcoin blockchain, a decentralized and distributed digital ledger. This allows students to present an electronic PDF that can be verified by others (e.g. employers or academic institutions) immediately in a secure manner, either by a new verification tool on UNIC’s website or, independently, by replicating UNIC’s open-source instructions.

More details about the approach can be found at www.block.co, which will serve as a repository for the technology. UNIC is now offering this solution to other academic and governmental institutions on an open-source / free basis, in order to improve and further develop this technology in a collaborative manner.

About University of Nicosia (UNIC)

The University of Nicosia is the largest university in Cyprus with approximately 12,000 students, and the largest research-oriented university in southern Europe that teaches primarily in English.

UNIC is regarded by most observers to have the most developed university blockchain and cryptocurrency initiative in the world. It was the first university to offer a course on cryptocurrency, a free MOOC that has been followed by over 12,000 students since 2014. UNIC’s MSc in Digital Currency was the first academic degree programme in the world in this field, and graduates from this programme have been involved in leading blockchain organisations worldwide. UNIC was also the first university in the world to accept bitcoin for tuition.