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Formerly Top Cryptocurrency Exchange Huobi To Open Office In US

Huobi, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges that was originally founded in China, has revealed its plans to open an office in San Francisco. The announcement took place during the Blockchain Connect conference Friday, Jan. 26.

Blockchain Connect, an event that focused on the cooperation between the US’ and China’s cryptocurrency markets, took place on Friday, Jan. 26 in San Francisco.

The Huobi exchange was one of the presenters at the conference, during which they have announced their intention to start doing business in the United States. The company’s new office is already under construction in the Silicon Valley.

“The U.S. will be our focus right now,” said Huobi’s Chief Strategy Officer Cai Kailong.

Founded in 2013, Huobi Group provides exchange services in Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and other countries. The company was forced to leave China, its original jurisdiction, after local regulators demanded all cryptocurrency exchanges to close in September 2017.

In December 2017, Huobi announced a partnership with Japan’s financial conglomerate SBI Group in order to help the latter launch its own cryptocurrency exchange.

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NEM Foundation: Stolen Coincheck Funds Not Sent to Exchanges

The 58 billion yen worth of XEM tokens are on the move, according to the NEM Foundation, but no attempt to sell them on exchanges has been made as of Wednesday.

Some 500 million XEM were stolen from Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck last week in what some observers have called the largest exchange hack to date. However, despite reports to the contrary, those behind the attack have not yet tried to sell them, according to a statement released by the Foundation Wednesday morning.

“None of the stolen funds have been sent to any exchanges. As long as those funds are off public exchanges they will be very difficult to liquidate, especially in large amounts,” the group stated.

Reuters had previously reported that NEM Foundation vice-president Jeff McDonald had said the hacker or hackers had started trying to move the stolen tokens to six different exchanges in order to sell them.

However, this information was not entirely accurate, NEM Europe promoter Paul Rieger asserted. In an email to CoinDesk, the NEM Foundation subsidiary member said:

“There were eleven 100 XEM transactions from one of the hacker accounts to “random” accounts. Nothing was sold. There were also no attempted transactions to exchanges.”

Reiger had previously told CoinDesk that his group was tagging accounts containing stolen XEM. His team also helped develop a system to automatically flag any stolen XEM, as well as the accounts they appeared on.

On Wednesday, The Japan News reported that the stolen XEM was transferred to 20 different accounts over the course of five days, with a series of transfers on both Jan. 26 (Friday) and Jan. 30 (Tuesday). The newspaper further stated that the Metropolitan Police Department was investigating these transfers as a possible attempt at slowing the investigation into the actual hack.

The Japan News further claimed that nine different accounts each received at least 11,000 yen.

It is unclear where The Japan news received its information from. The NEM Foundation declined to confirm the report’s claims.

In its statement, the NEM Foundation noted that it would be difficult for the hacker to liquidate most of the stolen XEM, and the token’s developers were continuing to monitor the accounts regardless.

Though news of the theft did not have a major impact on XEM’s price, news that Coincheck would reimburse its investors for their stolen funds sent the coin’s price to a local high of $1.22. However, it has since begun dropping again, falling to about $0.76 as of press time amidst a wider crypto bear market.

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The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at

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Taipei Partners With IOTA To Become A Blockchain-Powered Smart City

Taipei, Taiwan is seeking to become a smart city by utilizing the power of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), or Blockchain. The city has chosen to partner with IOTA, the inventors of the so-called Tangle technology for the Internet of Things (IoT), to provide a number of new technology features for residents.

Wei-bin Lee, Commissioner of the Department of Information Technology in Taipei City Government, suggested in an official press release that the ‘unique technology’ offered by IOTA will usher in a ‘new era of smart cities for the citizens of Taipei’.

The first project on the docket is the creation of citizen ID cards built on the Tangle technology. Called ‘TangleID’ cards, the creation is designed to eliminate risks of identity theft and voter fraud, while at the same time providing a simple means for tracking health history and other data for government-related services.

The company is already working on a side project for the city to create a palm-sized card with sensors that would detect light, temperature, humidity and pollution. The design is intended to give the citizens of Taipei up-to-date information about pollution levels in real time.

IOTA Foundation co-founder David Sønstebø sees the adoption as a massive step forward, noting that ‘the technology is ready for real-world use cases and is more than just a theory’.

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Crypto-Exchange to be Launched by Russia’s Largest State Bank

According to a report released by a local Russian media group RBC on Tuesday Jan 30, Sberbank – the largest state bank, will be opening up a digital currency exchange in Switzerland – more precisely in its Swiss branch Sberbank Switzerland AG.

Andrey Shemetov – the bank’s Head of Global Markets, stated that Switzerland was decided to be the location because of the Russian officials not allowing crypto-operations, in contrary to Switzerland where crypto-exchange is legal.

“We wish to serve our customers’ interests, that’s why we think that we need to have strategic access to all kinds of products and services,” Shemetov claimed.

Based on the press, for the moment the bank is working on the infrastructure of the exchange but there is not time specified out when will the platform be ready to start engine.

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The target of the banks i institutional level of investments and not retail investors.  “Cryptocurrency exchange operations will be available for legal entities only,” Shemetov stated, adding that cryptocurrency investments are high risk due to market volatility.

Earlier this month, the head of Sberbank, Herman Gref, declared that cryptocurrency should not be banned “under any circumstances”, calling both cryptocurrencies and Blockchain

Almost a week ago [Jan 25], Russian authorities introduced the Digital Assets Regulation Bill which create a regulatory system for cryptos, mining, trading and initial coin offerings.

Concluding from the latest updates of the above mentioned bill, the Ministry of Finance targets to legally adopt virtual currency trading because of increase of the gov tax revenue and reduce risks of fraud.

The final form of the will be presented on July 1, 2018, before going full law effect, which means there still could be changes and it might be altered until then – according to Forklog.

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Ranging Reactions to Facebook Cryptocurrency Ad Ban

Facebook users will no longer be bombarded by cryptocurrency, initial coin offering and Bitcoin adverts on the social media platform.

The company has instituted an all-out ban on cryptocurrency, ICO or Bitcoin adverts – citing “financial products and services frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices.”

Unfortunately, legitimate financial service providers will also be painted with the same brush- which effectively rules out any advertising of cryptocurrencies or related products on Facebook.

Adverts failing to comply will be banned from Facebook, and its partner platform Instagram as well as its advertising platform Audience Network.

Facebook’s advertising tech director Rob Leathern said the ban was ‘intentionally broad’ in an effort to weed out ‘deceptive and misleading’ advertising.

Social media reacts

As per usual, a gander at social media timelines provides some interesting reading- with varying opinions on the latest development in the cryptocurrency space.

Facebook’s advertising move was met with varying degrees of skepticism on Twitter.

Twitter user Armin van Bitcoin took a subtle dig at Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who recently made positive comments about Blockchain technology:

Another user simply used the hashtag #decentralized as he questioned why Facebook has made the move:

Another user pointed out the fact that many Facebook users had been duped by ICO scams advertised on Facebook:

Meanwhile, Brian Haggerty said Facebook’s move has nothing to do with Bitcoin- while the news has inevitably led to further fear, uncertainty and doubt.

Omar Bham speculated that the move could net the likes of Google higher advertising revenues with Facebook refusing to accept cryptocurrency advertising.

One user said the move presented yet another opportunity for people to buy Bitcoin as the market price reacted to the announcement.

The first Tweet is probably the most telling, as it highlights a degree of hypocrisy from Facebook founder Zuckerberg.

At the beginning of January, Zuckerberg said he was “interested in going deeper and studying the positive and negative aspects of these technologies, and how best to use them in our services.”

ICO scams advertised on Facebook may have lured gullible investors and it is right to put a stop to these kinds of practices. But an all-out ban might also punish legitimate businesses that are making pivotal strides in the development of different Blockchain applications.

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Russia’s Largest State Bank To Open Cryptocurrency Exchange In Europe

Sberbank, the largest state bank of Russia, is planning to launch a cryptocurrency exchange in its Swiss branch, Sberbank Switzerland AG, local media group RBC reported on Tuesday Jan. 30.

The bank’s Head of Global Markets Andrey Shemetov told RBC that the Russian bank chose Switzerland for the exchange location because Russian authorities do not currently allow cryptocurrency operations, while cryptocurrency exchange is legal in Switzerland.

“We wish to serve our customers’ interests, that’s why we think that we need to have strategic access to all kinds of products and services,” Shemetov claimed.

As RBC reports, Sberbank is currently developing their trading infrastructure, but Shemetov did not specify when the exchange is expected to be launched.

Sberbank does not plan to provide cryptocurrency exchange to retail investors, but is looking to operate on the institutional level.  “Cryptocurrency exchange operations will be available for legal entities only,” Shemetov stated, adding that cryptocurrency investments are high risk due to market volatility.

Earlier this month, the head of Sberbank, Herman Gref, declared that cryptocurrency should not be banned “under any circumstances”, calling both cryptocurrencies and Blockchain

“new huge technologies whose power cannot be realized at the moment.”

On Jan. 25, Russian authorities presented the Digital Assets Regulation Bill, which defines and establishes a regulatory system for cryptocurrencies, ICOs, mining and trading.

According to the latest update of the bill, the Ministry of Finance is aiming to legally adopt cryptocurrency trading, since it would reduce the risks of fraud and increase the government’s tax revenue, due to the potential for fiscal transparency.

According to local crypto news site Forklog, the final version of the bill will be officially released no later than July 1, 2018, which means the current version could still be altered before the law goes into effect.

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SEC, CFTC Chiefs Set for Senate Crypto Hearing Next Week

The heads of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (SEC) are set to testify on cryptocurrencies during a U.S. Senate hearing next week.

The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs will meet on Feb 6. at 10 a.m. EST, with SEC chief Jay Clayton and CFTC chief J. Christopher Giancarlo set to appear as witnesses. The hearing and the appearances by Clayton and Giancarlo were previously reported by the Washington-based publication The Hill earlier this month.

The hearing – entitled “Virtual Currencies: The Oversight Role of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission” – comes amid a period of heightened activity at both agencies around the topic.

The SEC has filed a number of lawsuits in recent weeks against allegedly fraudulent initial coin offerings (ICOs), while, as reported yesterday, the CFTC has moved to scrutinize the activities of cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex and Tether, the closely-linked company behind the controversial USDT token.

Next week’s hearing notably follows the publication of a joint op-ed from Clayton and Giancarlo. The article, published by the Wall Street Journal, served as both a pledge to apply closer oversight of the industry as well as a warning to some – particularly those soliciting investments.

“Market participants, including lawyers, trading venues and financial services firms, should be aware that we are disturbed by many examples of form being elevated over substance, with form-based arguments depriving investors of mandatory protections,” the two wrote.

The Feb. 8 hearing will be broadcast live online.

U.S. Capitol image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at

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UK’s Royal Mint Launches Gold-Backed Cryptocurrency

The UK’s Royal Mint, the institution responsible for producing all the physical money the country has for circulation, has announced the launch of its own gold-backed cryptocurrency.

The Blockchain-based coin, called Royal Mint Gold (RMG), is a digital representation of gold stored in The Royal Mint vault.

The Royal Mint Bullion, the Royal Mint company that sells physical gold, is the first company to allow customers to hold gold-backed assets on Blockchain, Tom Coghill, RMG’s Commercial Lead, stated in an interview with Coghill also mentioned that one RMG coin is equal to one gram of gold, adding that “it’s real gold you’re holding when you’re holding our RMG.”

A recent report published by the World Gold Council (WGC) compared Bitcoin and gold, declaring that though Bitcoin saw a higher growth in value in 2017, gold would remain an important store-of-value investment.

Coghill claimed that Bitcoin investments are more uncertain than investments in gold:

“Gold has probably had an argument that it’s been a store of value for 6,000 years, bitcoin’s a bit younger and the future of bitcoin is uncertain.”

The RMG project was first unveiled by the Royal Mint in December 2016.

The UK is not the only country to create a precious metals-backed cryptocurrency. Last week local sources in Australia reported that the country’s largest precious metal refinery, Perth Mint, was set to develop its own cryptocurrency backed by physical precious metals.

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South Korea Customs Service Reports $600 Mln Of Illegal Crypto Trades

The Korea Customs Service (KCS) published a press release on Jan. 31 on the status of illegal foreign currency exchanges using digital currency, which reportedly totals 637.5 bln won (about $600 mln).

The report gave examples of the largest cases when digital currency was illegally exchanged, citing 416.9 bln won ($391,886,000) illegally exchanged and 21.5 bln ($20,113,250) remitted due to insufficient funds between Australia and South Korea.

Another example involves Japan, where reportedly 53.7 bln won ($50,478,000) was illegally remitted from Japan to South Korea.

The KCS report ended:

“In the future, the KCS will investigate illegal foreign exchange transactions and money laundering charges against foreign exchange operators or virtual currency buying agents […] it will continue systematic and continuous crackdowns such as [on] […] the act of portraying tariffs or using virtual currencies as trading funds for smuggled tobacco, drugs and other illegal goods.”

South Korean crypto markets have seen turmoil this past month after stricter regulations on crypto trading were introduced, including prohibiting the opening and use of anonymous trading accounts, a law which took effect Jan. 30, and a false report of a country-wide crypto ban. CT reported earlier today that the South Korean finance minister has reaffirmed that there will be no ban on crypto in the country.

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Goldman Sachs Is Not Starting A Crypto Trading Desk, But They Did Invest In One

Leo Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, refuted the Bloomberg report that Goldman Sachs will be opening a crypto trading desk in an interview with CNBC, although the New York bank has owned a stake in a crypto trading desk since 2015.

In 2015, Goldman Sachs’ principal investment strategy group, which invests specifically in technology companies, participated in a $50 mln funding round with Bitcoin-startup Circle Internet Financial.

The deal closed on April 29, 2015, when Bitcoin (BTC) was trading at around $225.59, according to CoinMarketCap. By press time, BTC was trading around $10,040, about a 4400 percent increase from when Goldman Sachs invested in the Bitcoin-startup.

Bitcoin ChartsCircle is made up of Circle Pay, which is a fiat money sending services with a social messaging component, but also Circle Trade, which is a liquidity provider of cryptocurrencies. The company plans to open Circle Invest in 2018, a product designed for retail customers to more easily invest in crypto markets.

Goldman Sachs only recently released a report that referred to digital currencies as real money, in reference specifically to its use in developing economies. Previously, in November 2017, Blankfein had said that while he believes that Bitcoin will probably not work out in the long term, he’s open to the idea of BTC trading if it ever becomes more established as a currency.