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Thailand Stock Exchange Considering Gov’t License to Trade Bitcoins

The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) could become the latest entity to obtain a cryptocurrency trading license in the country. This news comes as the bourse is reportedly mulling to become a licensed digital asset trading platform. 


SET Eyes Digital Asset License to Trade Cryptocurrency

According to the Bangkok Post, the SET plans to apply to the Thai Finance Ministry, to obtain a digital asset operating license. If granted, the stock exchange could establish its cryptocurrency trading platform.

Reports indicate that the bourse is looking at beginning crypto exchange operations before the end of 2019. For Pattera Dilokrungthirapop, the vice-chair of the SET’s board of governors, the need to become involved in the emerging digital economy is the main reason for the move.

According to Dilokrungthirapop, many companies listed on the SET are already pursuing licenses to become cryptocurrency broker-dealers. Thus, the SET plans to liaise with its member companies to work out modalities for the proposed cryptocurrency exchange platform.

Dilokrungthirapop, who is also the chair of the Association of Securities Companies, says the SET isn’t in a hurry to move ahead with its plans. Commenting on the matter, she explained:

We [the SET] are not in a hurry to enter the digital asset trade, as some companies are still managing their core businesses, while cryptocurrencies are just one of the [digital] asset classes. Securities firms are currently waiting for the SET to apply for a license. For us, digital assets are expected to grow in the future as investors gain more understanding of this asset class.

Thailand’s Growing Digital Economy

The SET’s plan to operate a licensed cryptocurrency exchange platform is yet another example of Thailand’s growing digital economy. Beginning in mid-2018, the government via its Finance Ministry and the Securities and Exchange Commission began creating a legal framework for the digital asset industry.

Bangkok, Thailand

For Dilokrungthirapop, the SET stands a good chance of obtaining the license based on its significant capital pool and status as a trusted exchange operator. Jirayut Srupsrisopa, the CEO of Bitkub Group, agrees with Dilokrungthirapop but highlight’s the SET’s lack of experience in the cryptocurrency arena.

Bitkub is one of the four platforms that recently obtained licenses from the Thai SEC to become regulated cryptocurrency exchanges. According to Srupsrisopa, there are also plans of a possible partnership between Bitkub and the SET.

Do you think stock exchange operators coming into the cryptocurrency trading arena is good for the industry? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


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Swiss Vontobel Bank to Offer Cryptocurrency Custody in Global ‘First’

Swiss private bank Vontobel is planning to offer custody services for cryptocurrencies in a move executives described as a worldwide “first.”


Vontobel To Create ‘Digital Asset Vault’

In an interview with local finance magazine Finews.ch, Vontobel, which has offered cryptocurrency-related investment products since 2016, said it now wanted to increase its integration.

“As far as I know, Vontobel is the only bank globally to offer itself as a custodian for digital assets,” investment banking head Roger Studer told the publication.

Alprockz Partners with Swiss Banks to Issue a New Stablecoin Backed by Swiss Franc

Switzerland continues to position itself as a leader in banking attitudes to cryptocurrency, with multiple entities seeking to open up the market to institutional and private investors.

However, Vontobel, Studer says, will be the first bank-sponsored custody solution to market, not just in Switzerland but in the world.

“…We decided two years ago to make the new crypto investment world available to our clients,” he continued. “Our custody offering is a further step in this direction.”

Legacy Finance Sidles Up To Crypto Assets

The move will come via a partnership with Geneva-based startup Taurus, which specializes in crypto custody and storage. Vontobel will ultimately operate what it calls a “Digital Asset Vault,” a label synonymous with the physical bunker currently operated in Switzerland by Xapo.

“The cooperation between Taurus and Vontobel is of high importance for the Swiss financial market because we are linking up two worlds: traditional banking and crypto finance,” Taurus co-founder Lamine Brahimi continued to Finews.

As Bitcoinist reported, 2018 already saw more direct support for Bitcoin specifically from Swiss financial sources.

IT consulting firm Inacta AG, one resident of the country’s Crypto Valley community in the city of Zug, became one of the first users of Blockstream’s Liquid sidechain in December.

What do you think about Vontobel’s cryptocurrency custody plans? Let us know in the comments below!


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Japan and Korea Officially Approve Their Biggest Crypto Exchanges

South Korea’s Internet & Security Agency (KISA) has granted an important certification to the country’s leading cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb. Meanwhile, in Japan, Coincheck, the country’s largest exchange, is now registered with the Financial Services Agency. 


Bithumb Granted ISMS Certification

Cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb has managed to obtain Information Security Management System certification from the country’s KISA.

According to the official release, this is the highest certification system in the country. Cryptocurrency exchanges, which earn more than $8.99 million are required by law to obtain this certification.

The company says it will continue working on increasing its security. Speaking on the matter, a Bithumb’s representative said:

We are going to continue to establish the industry’s best security system that can be safe and trustworthy. […] We are going to become a global business that will lead the cryptocurrency exchange market by establishing a safe and trustworthy cryptocurrency exchange.

In July 2016, Bithumb was hacked, resulting in the theft of more than $31 million worth of cryptocurrencies. The company confirmed that it will reimburse all affected users.

Japan’s Coincheck Completes FSA Registration

In another important event, one of Japan’s bigger cryptocurrency exchanges has managed to complete the registration process under the Registration Review Process of Virtual Currency Exchange issued by the country’s Financial Services Agency.

FSA

At the beginning of 2018, Coincheck was also hacked resulting in the theft of $420 million in XEM tokens. The company compensated its users and later got acquired by Monex Group – a Japanese-based financial services firm.

Korea and Japan are both prominent countries when it comes to bitcoin trading. According to Coinhills, the Japanese Yen (JPY) is the second most traded national currency for bitcoins after the USD, comprising almost 42 percent of all trading.

The Korean Won (KRW), on the other hand, is the third most traded national currency for BTC.

What do you think of Japan and South Korea approving some of their major cryptocurrency exchanges? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!


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Bitmain Replaces CEO Jihan Wu After Bitcoin Cash Gamble Fails

Inside sources say that Bitmain Technologies plans to name a replacement CEO to take over from co-founders Jihan Wu and Ketuan Zhan.


New Bitmain CEO

According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the Bitcoin mining behemoth is looking to name a new CEO to replace the company’s co-founders. Anonymous sources say, Haichao Wang, the current Engineering Director is the front-runner for the job.

Jihan Wu

While there is no official word from Bitmain, these sources say the company entered a leadership transition period in December 2018.

Back in November 2018, Bitcoinist reported Wu’s demotion from director to a supervisor. Also, in late December 2018, reports broke out in Chinese media of the imminent resignation of both Wu and Zhan.

There is also no definite timetable for the completion of the leadership reshuffle. Sources indicate that both Wu and Zhan will become co-chairs of the company. The new CEO will handle the daily administration of the firm while the pair will still have the final say on big decisions.

According to SCMP sources, both Wu and Zhan had disagreements as co-CEO. Wu, in particular, has come under intense criticism for the company’s bet on Bitcoin Cash. Zhan, on the other hand, has led Bitmain’s diversification efforts, especially into the artificial intelligence arena.

Turning the Tide

If the reports are accurate and Bitmain does get a new CEO, a daunting task awaits the selected individual. After a stellar 2017 and a promising start to 2018, the second half of the year appeared to fizzle out for the Bitcoin mining behemoth.

Bitmain is yet to release its Q3 2018 financial report, but speculation is rife of losses north of $740 million. A lot of the financial trouble stems from inventory losses, as well as the expensive Bitcoin Cash hash war of November 2018.

Recently, the company even began laying off a significant portion of its workforce. In December 2018, Bitmain fired its R&D department based in Israel. This move was followed by another massive downsizing, nixing the company’s Bitcoin Cash development team.

The company’s IPO plan is also another casualty of the financial turmoil within the company. Despite announcing plans for an IPO listing in Hong Kong earlier in 2018, all signs point to such plans being unfeasible, for the present time, at least.

Will a new CEO be able to steer Bitmain in a better direction? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


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France Starts Selling Bitcoin At 6 Tobacco Shops – 6,500 By Next Month

An initiative to sell Bitcoin (BTC) in France’s 24,000 tobacco kiosks has tentatively launched despite votes of no confidence from the central bank and other sources.


6 Tobacconists Today, 6500 By February

As Reuters reported January 8 quoting organizer Adil Zakhar, six ‘Tabac’ shops in Paris began offering prepaid Bitcoin cards this week, with plans to roll out the scheme in rapid fashion to over 6500 as soon as next month.

“Some people find it complicated to get bitcoins online,” Zakhar told the publication.

They trust their local tobacco shop owner more than they would trust some remote anonymous website.

As co-founder of technology company KeplerK, Zakhar is presiding over a hotly contested move to bring Bitcoin into the French mainstream.

As Bitcoinist and others wrote in November, when the plan was announced, it met with opposition from parties including the Bank of France (BoF), officials denying they had sanctioned any form of Bitcoin sales by tobacconists.

This appeared to contradict the position of the French Prudential Supervision and Resolution Authority (ACPR), which operates under the auspices of the BoF and had given the go-ahead to KerplerK.

“…[N]o such deal is either being envisaged or under discussion,” the BoF said at the time.

Bitcoins And Bank Runs

The commencement of sales thus marks a further point in the confusing legislative environment surrounding cryptocurrency which has persisted in France.

yellow vest Paris Protests euro bitcoin

At the same time, both Bitcoin and banks continue to hit the mainstream media for other reasons.

Earlier this week, Bitcoinist reported on a fresh project by political grassroots movement the Gilets Jaunes, organizers calling for a run on the banks this Saturday, January 12.

Aiming to pressure the government “without the least bit of violence,” the so-called ‘Referendum des Percepteurs’ (‘Collectors’ Referendum’) closely mirrors a similar event in the Bitcoin world from last week – Trace Mayer’s Proof of Keys.

Meanwhile, cryptocurrency users continue the search for a Bitcoin bounty hidden as part of a wall mural by Paris-based artist Pascal Boyart. An open wallet for contributions to the prize fund currently contains 0.287 BTC ($1155).

What do you think about France’s tobacconist Bitcoin sales? Let us know in the comments below!


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