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Thailand’s Stock Exchange Plans to Set up a Licensed Digital Asset Exchange: Report

Thailand’s Stock Exchange exec reveals plans to set up a licensed digital asset exchange in the country.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) is planning to set up a regulated digital asset exchange, local news agency The Bangkok Post reported on Jan. 17.

Citing the vice chair of SET’s board of governors, Pattera Dilokrungthirapop, — аlso chair of the Association of Securities Companies — the report revealed that the national stock exchange plans to apply for a digital asset operating licence from the country’s Ministry of Finance within the year.

According to the plan, SET’s member securities firms will be able to apply to become brokers and dealers for trading on the new digital asset exchange.

As a representative of the securities industry, Dilokrungthirapop stressed that there are a number of securities firms that are interested in broker and dealer activity with digital assets as a class, but are not necessarily looking to enter cryptocurrency markets.

Dilokrungthirapop further stated:

“Securities firms are currently waiting for the SET to apply for a licence. For us, digital assets are expected to grow in the future as investors gain more understanding of this asset class.”

Jirayut Srupsrisopa, chief executive of Thai crypto exchange Bitkub, noted that a digital asset exchange from SET would have the advantage of leveraging the stock exchange’s already existing trust and capital. The exchange also expressed interest in partnering with SET for its digital asset venture.

Recently, the much-anticipated digital assets platform Bakkt — created by the operator of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) — entered into an agreement to acquire certain assets in futures commision merchant Rosenthal Collins Group (RCG).

Earlier in January, Estonia-based DX Exchange launched its digital trading platform offering tokenized traditional stocks on the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain.

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Mongolia Partners With Stablecoin to Use Blockchain for Lending Services, Money Transfers

Mongolia’s capital city administration is set to replace utility bills and government subsidies with blockchain-based payment methods.

Mongolia’s capital city of Ulaanbaatar has partnered with a stablecoin company to release instant money transfer and lending services, Asia’s largest tech media platform e27 reported on Jan. 11.

Ulaanbaatar City’s administration has agreed to partner with a South Korean blockchain company, dubbed Terra, in order to eventually replace the current payment methods for utility bill and government subsidies with the Terra stablecoin, according to the publication.

The pilot program is scheduled to be launched within the next six months, and will start in the city of Ulaanbaatar’s Nalaikh District, with plans to expand throughout the whole city. The article also states that the program within the Mongolian capital will contain both peer-to-peer payments and mobile payments.

Terra is a stablecoin project co-founded by Daniel Shin, the creator of South Korean e-commerce marketplace Ticket Monster. The stablecoin project closed a $32 million funding round in August 2018, with participation from Binance Labs, OKEx and Huobi Capital, as well as Polychain Capital.

Back last fall, the Bank of Mongolia, the country’s central bank, had given permission to Mongolia’s largest mobile telecoms operator to issue its own digital currency, as Cointelegraph reported on Sep. 28.

Terra, the stablecoin project, had already partnered with South Korean messaging app giant KakaoTalk back in last November as well. The partnership is aimed at developing a blockchain-based payment system and creating a blockchain ecosystem that would allow a large number of people to use its services, Cointelegraph wrote on Nov. 14.

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Major American Magazine Time Column Reports About Bitcoin’s Liberating Potential

Mainstream newspaper Time published an article illustrating the liberating potential of Bitcoin, especially in countries with oppressive governments.

Bitcoin (BTC) has a substantial liberating potential, American mainstream newspaper Time reports on Dec. 28.

The aforementioned article claims that “speculation, fraud, and greed in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry have overshadowed the real, liberating potential of Satoshi Nakamoto’s invention.”

According to the article’s author, Bitcoin “can be a valuable financial tool as a censorship-resistant medium of exchange.”

Alejandro Machado, a cryptocurrency researcher at the Open Money Initiative, reportedly said that the fee on a wire transfer from the United States to Venezuela can be as high as 56 percent.

To circumvent such conditions, Venezuelans have reportedly turned to cryptocurrency, receiving Bitcoin from their relatives abroad. The main alternative is to wire money to Colombia, withdraw and bring cash to Venezuela, which according to the article, “can take far longer, cost more, and be far more dangerous than the Bitcoin option.”

Times suggests that Bitcoin is a good way to protect oneself from fiat currency inflation. Venezuela is prime example of that, with the inflation of their native currency projected to top 1 million percent. But there are also other similar examples, like Zimbabwe, where former president Robert Mugabe “printed endless amounts of cash.” But the author points out:

“His successors can’t print more Bitcoin.”

Bitcoin is also, according to the article, a tool to evade mass surveillance in places like China. That being said, as Cointelegraph reported in March, according to U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden, Bitcoin isn’t optimal for avoiding government coercion, and he believes that the world needs a better option.

Times also points out the advantage given by the inability of governments to censor transactions or freeze Bitcoin wallets. In fact, Cointelegraph reported in April that WikiLeaks’ Coinbase account has been suspended due to a term of service violation.

Still, nobody can prevent WikiLeaks from using cryptocurrency wallets where the organization controls the private keys. In fact, WikiLeaks is still accepting cryptocurrency donations and also added support for Snowden’s favorite crypto Zcash in August 2017.

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Italy Announces 30 Experts to Lead National Blockchain Strategy

The Italian government has published a list of 30 experts brought together to develop the nation’s blockchain strategy.

The Ministry of Economic Development published the list on Thursday, revealing a pool of expertise across areas such as business, academic research, computer science and law – of course, all with knowledge and experience of blockchain tech.

Notable individuals include Angiolini Giorgio, head of marketing portfolio at a telecoms firm Italtel and also a member of UN INFO’s blockchain group; Monaco Marco, leader of the blockchain competence center at PWC Italy; Pimpinella Martino Maurizio, president of the Italian Association of Paying Services Providers; and Vitale Marco, president of blockchain firm Quadrans Foundation.

The ministry had initially called for members of the group back in September, saying at the time that the country’s fundamental priority is to “know, deepen and address the issue of distributed ledger technologies (DLT) and blockchain, as well as increase public and private investments in this direction.”

The group will be working to identify potential use cases for blockchain in the public and private services, and developing necessary technical and regulatory tools to promote adoption of the technology, according to ministry’s September statement.

Luigi Di Maio, Italy’s deputy prime minister, commented at the time: “Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain are destined to radically change our lives, the society in which we live and the economic and productive fabric of the country. We have to decide which way to go.”

Earlier this month, Italy signed a joint declaration along with another six southern EU states saying it would take the lead on blockchain in order to transform its economy.

Ministry of Economic Development image via Shutterstock

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India May Legalize Cryptos But Under ‘Strong’ Rules: Report

The Indian government could possibly legalize cryptocurrencies, but with tough terms and conditions attached, a news report suggests.

According to a New Indian Express article published Wednesday,  an interdisciplinary committee set up by the government to investigate cryptocurrencies, is not in favor of an outright ban.

An anonymous senior official who attended the committee’s meetings told the newspaper:

“We have already had two meetings. There is a general consensus that cryptocurrency cannot be dismissed as completely illegal. It needs to be legalized with strong riders. Deliberations are on.”

The government set up the committee in April 2017 with the remit of examining the existing legal framework related to digital currencies and suggesting new measures to deal with the technology, including addressing issues around consumer protection and money laundering. Members include representatives from government departments for the economy and taxation, as well as the central bank and other agencies.

The second iteration of the group is now reportedly expected to submit its new report to the country’s finance ministry by February 2019.

The article apparently indicates a softening of stance by the committee, which, back in October, recommended that the government develop an “appropriate legal framework to ban the use of private cryptocurrencies in India.”

Further dampening the country’s cryptocurrency industry amid confusing messages over the legal status of bitcoin and its crypto peers, an April order by the Reserve Bank of India, India’s central bank, prevented domestic banks from providing services to cryptocurrency firms such as exchanges.

Since then exchanges have been seeking ways to keep their businesses from failing, entering legal petitions to overturn the RBI ban at the country’s supreme court. Seeking guidance, the court, on Oct. 26, asked the government to provide its opinion on cryptocurrencies within two weeks.

While, no official announcement has yet been made to provide guidance, that situation looks likely to change in coming months.

With India a member nation of the G20 group, any rules to govern the local crypto space may be influenced by planned regulatory guidance from the international economic forum, the report adds.

The official told the New Indian Express:

“We have also taken inputs from cryptocurrency exchanges and experts and will be examining legal issues with the law ministry. It’s a complicated issue. Once all aspects are decided, then we will have more clarity.”

Bitcoin and Indian rupees image via Shutterstock