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SBI Holdings, R3 Embark on ‘Joint Venture’ to Boost Corda Blockchain Use in Asia

R3’s Corda platform aims for an adoption boost via a partnership with Japanese financial services giant SBI Holdings.

Japanese financial services company SBI Holdings will partner with software firm R3 to expand local use of its Corda blockchain platform, Cointelegraph Japan reported Dec. 5.

Quoting local news outlet Nikkei, the report reveals that SBI, which is involved in multiple cryptocurrency and blockchain-related activities, will expand on its existing investment in R3 to create a “joint venture” aimed at promotion.

“Europe is the most advanced in blockchain product development,” R3 CEO David Rutter told Nikkei in an interview:

“The new joint venture will strengthen the Japanese language service, and promote adoption.”

The company added its R3 partnership would extend beyond Japan to cover the wider Asian space.

R3 focuses on using Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT), such as blockchain, to facilitate efficiency increases primarily for banking partners. Based in the United States, the startup has clients throughout the world, which currently number around 200.

Deals continue to come, Cointelegraph this week reporting on a group of French banks completing a Corda-based Know Your Customer (KYC) trial, while R3 also announced that the first cryptocurrency added to its payments DApp would be Ripple (XRP).

SBI is also deeply entrenched in XRP, its joint money transfer operation SBI Ripple Asia gaining Japanese regulatory approval in September.

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Japan Updates ICO Regulations While BitTrade Joins Huobi Family

Japan’s crypto friendly status has been achieved through a solid regulatory framework which protect investors without stifling trading or innovation. This has been strengthened this week when its financial watchdog announced plans for further ICO regulation.

ICO Regulation for Investor Protection

Earlier this week Japan announced that it was ready to launch ICO regulations to protect investors from the ever growing number of scams in the industry. According to local media, citing sources familiar, the Financial Services Agency is set to go ahead with new procedures to limit the amount of investment that can go into initial coin offerings.

In addition to the extra layer of investor protection the FSA will require business operators that issue their own cryptocurrencies based on the ICO model to be registered with the agency. Crypto exchanges are currently required to do this also but only 16 have successfully completed the procedure so far.

The agency plans to submit bills which will revise financial services and payment services laws during January’s parliamentary session. Citing a growing number of fraudulent ICOs abroad the regulator is aiming to protect domestic and foreign investors from losses by limiting the amount they have to participate in token sales.

BitTrade Joins Huobi Family

It is not easy to make it on to Japan’s short list of fully regulated crypto exchanges which is only 16 at the moment. Huobi, the world’s third largest exchange by trade volume, does not have that accolade so to get around it decided to buy into an exchange that does.

BitTrade, one of Japan’s fully regulated exchanges, has sold a controlling stake to Huobi Japan Holding Ltd in a move that will enable Huobi to gain wider access to Japanese markets. According to reports BitTrade will be closing its platform in order to re-open under the Huobi Group family.

The exchange has asked its customers to re-register a new account and perform the KYC procedures again; “Please prepare your identity confirmation document again … from the viewpoint of thoroughly pursuing the criminal profit transfer prevention law, please register new accounts,”

The new platform will be accessed via huobi.co.jp which was not available at the time of writing. It will support 11 trading pairs and the following six cryptocurrencies; Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP, Bitcoin Cash, Monacoin, and Litecoin.

BitTrade apologized for the inconvenience and urged clients to withdraw their assets;

“We are sorry for the inconvenience caused by the termination of the Bittrade service and updating to the Huobi new system. In the new system, we will continue to offer more liquidity and convenience services, so we appreciate your patronage.”

Image from Shutterstock

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Coincheck Reopens New Signups, Deposits and Withdrawals of ‘Some’ Cryptocurrencies

Hacked Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck continues to reboot itself following a multimillion-dollar hack in January.

Monex Group, the Japanese internet broker that purchased hacked cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck, announced it had reopened new account signups and limited trading in a statement Tuesday, Oct. 30.

The latest phase of a step-by-step reboot of Coincheck, Monex added users could also begin depositing and purchasing certain cryptocurrencies.

“…Here we announce that Coincheck has resumed ‘new account openings’ and ‘customers’ depositing and purchasing some cryptocurrencies’ services today,” the statement reads.

From Tuesday, users will be able to deposit four cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum Classic (ETC), Litecoin (LTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH).

Purchase options now extend once more to the three altcoins, Bitcoin having continued to be available in the intervening period since Monex took over.

In future, Ethereum (ETH), NEM (XEM), Lisk (LSK), Ripple (XRP) and Factom (FCT) will return to Coincheck, “if the services are confirmed safe and become ready to be offered,” the statement adds.

For those choosing to open a new account on the platform, Monex advised a strict know-your-customer (KYC) process would be in place, in line with regulations demanded from exchanges by Japanese regulator the Financial Services Agency (FSA).

Fiscal results published by Monex yesterday, Oct. 29, revealed that Coincheck saw a 66 percent decline in revenue for Q3 2018.

Monex purchased Coincheck for around $33.5 million in April, outlining plans to relaunch the exchange in full compliance with local regulations.

In January, hackers stole funds from Coincheck at the time worth an estimated $534 million.

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Japan’s SBI Virtual Currencies Exchange to Develop Proprietary Crypto Wallet

Denmark-based cryptography specialist Sepior has partnered with Japanese online financial services firm SBI Group to jointly develop a proprietary wallet on SBI’s Virtual Currencies exchange platform, VCTRADE.

Cryptography Specialist Sepior Agrees to Boost VCTRADE’s Security With Threshold Wallet Technology

The financial services giant licensed Sepior’s Threshold Wallet technology, which addresses online wallet and transaction security using multiparty computation (MPC), for use in their proprietary wallet.

SBI Virtual Currencies is the first bank-backed, government-licensed cryptocurrency exchange in Japan. Sepior will help the institutional-grade cryptocurrency operator to provide custodial wallet services with the highest level of security for signing transactions, storing private key components, and minimizing the risk of assets being frozen or moved without the approval of the end-user or custodians.

Sepior’s Threshold Wallet enables rapid signing of transactions involving multiple parties and its key protection approach eliminates the need for any device or entity to possess the entire private key at any time. The two features greatly reduce security risks on VCTRADE, according to SBI Holdings chief executive Yoshitaka Kitao.

“After extensive investigation, our security research team determined threshold signatures based on multiparty computation (MPC) offered our desired level of security, performance, and scalability needed to manage transactions for our growing SBI Virtual Currencies customer base. Sepior is recognized as a market leader in cryptography and threshold MPC. They’ve applied these core competencies to facilitate secure online transactions without the classic reliance on a single trusted party.”

The subsidiaries of SBI Holdings have been very active in the blockchain and cryptocurrency arenas. SBI Securities, SBI FXTRADE, and SBI Virtual Currencies, got the green light from Japanese regulatory authorities to partner with Ripple in order to launch a new joint venture called SBI Ripple Asia and provide fast peer-to-peer payments.

SBI Remit, the conglomerate’s money transfer company, has partnered with BitPesa to enable direct currency pairs between Japanese yen and the fiat currencies of Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, using the Bitcoin blockchain.

It is estimated that over $1.6 billion in today’s values have been lost to cryptocurrency hackers since 2014. Japan, as the most active cryptocurrency trade region in the world, has experienced a high number of such attacks. The $500 million Coincheck exchange theft in January prompted Japan’s financial watchdog FSA to tighten oversight on the cryptocurrency trading world.

Security is the name of the game and SBI Virtual Currencies will have to make sure the operator is impervious to hacking. The agreement with Sepior aims to ease concerns from the regulator and gain trust from users.

Image from Shutterstock

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Crypto Exchange Zaif Hacked In $60 Million, 6,000 Bitcoin Theft

Yet another Japan-based cryptocurrency exchange has been hacked with a loss of total 6.7 billion yen, or $60 million worth of cryptocurrency, including 6,000 bitcoin.

The exchange, called Zaif, operated by Tech Bureau and a licensed exchange in Japan, said on Thursday that the exchange first noticed unusual funds outflow on the platform around 17:00 Japan time on Sept. 14, after which the company suspended asset deposit and withdrawal services..

Tech Bureau further explained that after further investigation, it discovered the unauthorized access to the exchange’s hot wallets had stolen a total of $60 million worth of cryptocurrency in bitcoin, bitcoin cash, and MonaCoin.

At the moment, however, the amount of bitcoin cash stolen remains unknown.

The exchange added that since its own asset reserve is currently at around 2.2 billion yen (or $20 million), it has reached an agreement with a Japan-listed firm called Fisco to receive a $44.5 million investment in exchange for a major share of ownership.

Tech Bureau said given the nature of the unauthorized fund access, it has filed the incident as a criminal case to local authority for further investigation.

The incident marks the second hack happened in Japan this year, after Coincheck also reported a whopping $520 million worth of the NEM token got stolen by hackers in January.

Following Coincheck’s hack, the Japanese financial watchdog the Financial Services Agency (FSA) has launched a series of inspection on cryptocurrency exchanges in the country regarding their security measures.

The FSA has notably issued a business improvement order to Tech Bureau in March specifically on its security and anti-money laundering enhancement.

Japanese yen image via CoinDesk

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