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What Crypto Means to Central Banks

Cryptocurrency has many names. To some, it is an alien, to some it is a scam, to youths it appears as the next big wealth to run after since it is a quick way to get rich without necessarily work excessively. When on look around, the way different government sees cryptocurrency is unique. In Africa, in Australia and in America, the views appear different.

China and Cryptocurrency

In the past, Chinese government have levelled stiff regulations on cryptocurrency. Fortunately, the country is planning a cryptocurrency of its own that will be legally acceptable and spent in the country. People’s Bank of China (PBoC) has revealed that it will be researching about cryptocurrencies extensively this year. This development, according to PBoC is to protect Yuan from possible threat that digital currencies pose.

Nigeria and Cyptocurrency.

Nigerian government have a different definition of cryptocurrency. To them it is a Mavrodi (MMM) scam. Cryptocoins are painted as scam because Nigerians were defrauded recently by MMM. Poor education may be the reason Nigerian government paint crypto as a scam. This has resulted in different body, including the Central Bank of Nigeria calling it a big scam to be careful of.

Manager in charge of Research Department at the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Mr. Adikwu Igoche, says cryptocurrencies were legalized in Nigeria, and hence, Nigerians should be wary of another big fall.

“These forms of currencies are not backed by any physical commodity, such as gold or other precious stones. “They do not belong to the category of currencies or coins issued by the CBN or the central bank of any other country.”

Bank of England Has A Different Say

Governor, Bank of England (BOE), Mark Carney is calling for standardized regulation of cryptocurrencies. According to him, like fiat currency, cryptocoins need standard ecosystem. He however preached for a country by country regulation.

The European Central Bank has a different view. The bank of all banks says there are lots of dangers in digital currencies, with the Vice President Vitor Constancio branding it as a “tulip”

Venezuela: Any Thing?

Venezuelan government has created a petroleum-backed cryptocoin called petro, to move out of American-instigated sanction on the South American country. On March first 2018, the country says since it announced its ICO, it has generated more than $3bn from Investors in 127 Countries.

South Korea has a different view of cryptocurrency

Analysts say after the U.S. and Japan, South Korea is the world’s largest market for cryptocurrencies. South Korean government sees Cyptocurrency as a scam. The prime minister of the country, Lee Nak-Yeon, has warned citizens of the dangers of cryptocurrency, saying it is giving students the opportunity to get involved in illegal dealings. However, the country has not announced any legal ban on crypto.

What About American Government?

While speculations have it that the US is planning to ban or regulate cryptocurrency, there has been no official declaration to that effect. It is believed that the government may be planning to introduce security and regulations on cryptocurrency, soon.

Germany Warns Investors!

Bundesbank’s President Jens Weidmann says Bitcoin has a “speculative character,” and that “investors can lose money.” He however warns citizens to keep off.

Cryptocurrencies is defined based on what it means to each country’s central bank. What is your country saying about crypto?

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Kazakhstan’s Central Bank Plans to Ban Cryptocurrencies Amid Growing Interest: Report

The National Bank of Kazakhstan, the country’s central bank, is currently planning to ban cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, or at the very least take a “very conservative approach” towards them, according to a report published by Russian government news outlet Sputnik News.

Per the report, National Bank of Kazakhstan chairman Daniyar Akishev revealed the financial institution doesn’t favor cryptocurrencies, and is even looking to impose “extremely tough restrictions” on crypto markets.

Akishev added that the central bank wants to “ban the exchange of digital currencies for the national currency,” and prohibit cryptocurrency exchanges and miners from operating inside the country’s borders. His reasoning was that cryptocurrencies lead to problems relating to the protection of their users’ rights.

The financial institution’s chairman noted:

“We minimize the risks related to the national market. However, no central bank has all the instruments to control this market in the cross-border market. Therefore, at least, we must prevent this risk via the national currency.”

He added that one of the risks of cryptocurrencies is their potential to be used in illegal activities. Per the bank – and other state bodies – cryptocurrencies are “an ideal instrument for money laundering and tax evasion.”

At present, there are apparently no regulations, laws or bills that aim to stifle the use of cryptocurrencies in the country. Kazakhstan’s take may be somewhat surprising, given that at the G20 summit the world’s economic leaders seemingly preferred to go with a regulatory approach that wouldn’t harm innovation.

The move comes at a time in which bitcoin drops below the $7,500 mark and approaches a crucial period. Some analysts point out the market is extremely oversold and all its waiting for is a trigger to get a bullish period going, while others claim bitcoin may keep falling.

While Kazakhstan is taking a tough approach to cryptocurrencies, Belarus and the German Tourist board are now bitcoin and ethereum friendly, as both have seemingly legalized crypto related businesses and are positioning themselves on the vanguard of the cryptocurrency revolution.

Earlier this year, a Yandex study revealed Kazakhs’ interest in cryptocurrencies grew 15-fold in 2018. The study conducted by the Russian search engine showed search terms like “bitcoin” surged, and that some of the most popular crypto-related queries included initial coin offerings (ICOs), blockchain technology, and cryptocurrency mining.

Yandex further revealed Kazakh users asked specific questions, as they wanted to know if a “student can work for bitcoin,” or “what is blockchain in simple words for dummies.” Mining-related search queries seemed to show users were looking to start their own operations.

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Thai Finance Ministry Releases Final Version Of Cryptocurrency Tax Framework

Thailand’s awaited tax framework for cryptocurrencies has been announced this week by the Thai Finance Minister, local news outlet Nikkei Asian Review reported Friday, March 30.

Apisak Tantivorawong reported during a March 27 cabinet meeting that crypto trades will be taxed with a 7 percent value added tax (VAT), and returns taxed with a 15 percent capital gains tax. The first draft of the digital asset regulations, released March 14, showed that the expected tax ceiling for the digital gains crypto tax in Thailand was 15 percent.

The previous uncertainty in Thailand surrounding crypto regulations, particularly in regards to Initial Coin Offerings (ICO), had caused the Thai Digital Asset Exchange (TDAX) to pause ICOs in February in order to wait for the Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission’s (Thai SEC) release of a regulatory framework.

Earlier in February, the governor of Thailand’s central bank had asked all banks to stay away from investing and trading in cryptocurrency, as well as participating in and creating exchanges and platforms for crypto trading. This central bank circular only applied to banks, not to exchanges or other crypto services.

The Nikkei Asian Review wrote Friday that the new regulations have been designed to “prevent the expanding [crypto] sector from being used for money laundering, tax evasion, and other criminal activities.” The former Finance Minister, now chairman of the Thai Fintech Association, Korn Chatikavanij, noted that the Thai government has to “be cautious not to allow their conservation instincts to result in draconian regulations.”

According to the Nikkei Asian Review, Thai crypto startups are looking to the more crypto-friendly Singapore as an alternative for locating their business, citing Thai and South Korean platform Six.network – which is registered in Singapore although it held its ICO in Bangkok – as an example. The Nikkei Asian Review notes that Six.network is working with the Thai SEC to “constantly clarify the operation to ensure transparency,” citing its co-founder, Natavudh Pungcharoenpong.

Thai company J Ventures did hold an ICO in Thailand in February, raising $21 mln by selling all of its 100 mln JFin tokens within 55 hours. Cointelegraph reported on March 21 that the “coin’s future has become unclear” as even already-issued ICOs will purportedly have to comply with any future regulations within a six month period.

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Major Russian Bank Looks To Pilot Crypto Transactions In Switzerland

Major Russian state-owned bank Gazprombank will be conducting pilot cryptocurrency transactions in Switzerland, local news outlet Vedomosti reported March 29.

According to Aleksandr Sobol, the Deputy Chairman of the Board at Gazprombank, Switzerland was chosen due to the more liberal crypto legislation in the country.

Sobol said that “some kind of pilots” will “of course” take place, according to Vedomosti:

“This will not be on a grand scale, but for ourselves. This is a demand from the sides of our large private clients for such amenities. Therefore we are now looking at how we can organize this service for them.”

As yet it has not been decided if future crypto services will be offered to customers or conducted for Gazprombank’s own investment; Sobol said the bank is “trying to follow the situation actively.”

In January of this year, Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, had also announced that they had chosen Switzerland as the location to open their own crypto exchange, as Russian law does not allow crypto operations.

Crypto regulation in Russia is currently under review, as the Digital Assets Regulation Bill, presented on Jan. 25, will not be released in its final version until July 1.

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Total Market Recovery on the Start of the Weekend – Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple

Could that have been the bottom? Countless crypto-enthusiasts and traders are asking themselves if the prices that were experienced the past week were the lowest that the digital currency assets against the US Dollar will be touching.

All the leading coins did plunge throughout the violent sellout breaking below many important supporting levels with no stop. Bitcoin [BTC] – the leading crypto with a market capitalization of $120 billion [per all-time high $333 bil] broke below the $7,000 for a day now, which has happened only once since November 12 2017.

BTC against the US Dollar

Source: coinmarketcap

The afternoon however, is looking very differently on the short-term manner as all the leading cryptos in the top-20 position by market capitalization are being hoisted by the bulls [except for TRON which is still on the red because of its heavy losses the last days.]

The pair BTC/USD is trading at $7,081.49 per time of writing with 4.15 percent positive change [24h] while Ethereum follows in the same manner making it above the major $400.00 level [$403.11] with 6.47 percent increase in the last 24-hours. The third largest and very famous for having a unique marketing strategy Ripple is battling hard to keep its head above the $0.5100 level and not declining lower.

As long as the above mentioned marks are not cleared out again and the buyers can hold position against bears for a couple of days, a reversal on prices could take place within a short time.

On standard patterns, all the other cryptocurrencies follow Bitcoin and its market development majorly, however today the first to step on the green zone was Stellar Lumens as IBM did declare to be using its infrastructure for cross-border payments while taking the solutions and approach very seriously:

At the time of the announcement [and our team writings] Stellar XLM/USD was trading just above 4% increase for the last 24-hours. However, as prices in a global-scale did break below important supports [BTC $6,740] traders used the opportunity to step in and turned Saturday a very welcoming mark on the week for the community. Now Stellar XLM is trading at $0.2136 with 16.02% upward movement in the last day.

A boost in confidence was given birth by Abra’s CEO Bill Barhydt towards the community as he believes strongly in the bulls to return in the near future and the same end of 2017 hype of crypto to be present again. The reason to support his opinion is that billion-dollar hedge funds and institutional investor have still not stepped in but did decide that the asset is very worth investing and their time.

“I talk to hedge funds, high net worth individuals, even commodity speculators. They look at the volatility in the crypto markets and they see it as a huge opportunity. Once that happens, all hell will break loose. He added: “Once the floodgates are opened, they’re opened.”

Read: Soon Bulls To Return: Upward Price Jump Predicted By Abra CEO

Trade safely and do not overtrade!

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FBI Publishes PSA About Tech Support Fraud Targeting Cryptocurrency Holders

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has published a public service announcement on March 28 warning about the prevalence of scammers posing as tech support for a variety of industries, including the cryptocurrency sector.

The announcement defines tech support fraud as a “criminal claiming to provide customer, security, or technical support in an effort to defraud unwitting individuals,” and references the increasing frequency of this type of fraud leading to criminals“pos[ing] as government agents, even offering to recover supposed losses related to tech support fraud schemes or to request financial assistance with ‘apprehending’ criminals.”

Tech support fraud, which can occur through the telephone, search engines, pop-ups, locked screens, and phishing emails, is now also being perpetrated through the new targets of virtual currency exchanges, according to the FBI’s PSA.

The section on the new variations and trends of this type of fraud notes that virtual currency fraud has led to “individual victim losses often in the thousands of dollars.” The scam is carried out by a criminal who pretends to be a virtual currency service’s support representative in order to gain access to a crypto holder’s wallet, then transferring all of the crypto out while the fake “maintenance” is taking place, only to “cease all communication” and disappear with the funds.

The FBI suggests that the public update their ad-blocking and anti-virus software, examine customer support numbers found on search engines more carefully, and “resist[s] the pressure to act quickly” in online tech situations, as “criminals create a sense of urgency to produce fear and lure the victim into immediate action.”

Victims of any tech support fraud scams are asked to immediately report the incidents in as much detail as possible to the IC3.

In January of this year, the IC3 warned the public about a different new method of cryptocurrency extortion – false death threats to individuals that requested crypto and fiat ransoms to spare their lives.

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Japan: Operator Of GMO Exchange Promises To Improve Data Security After Regulator Order

GMO Internet, the operator of Japanese crypto exchange GMO Coin, has announced the establishment of a “Group Information Security Audit Office” in order to develop stronger security measures to protect customer information, according to a March 30 press release.

GMO Coin was one of the crypto exchanges that was sent a business improvement order by Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) after a series of on-site inspections prompted by the January hack of crypto exchange Coincheck.

GMO Internet’s new group, run by “knowledgeable security expert” Takeshi Miyazaki, will include an external advisor on security as well. The establishment of this group aims to “protect important customer information from increasingly sophisticated cyber-attacks by our highly secured countermeasures and pursue to improve group information security literacy and foster security personnel.”

A little over a week ago, on March 22, GMO Coin posted on their website that they had submitted their FSA-requested business improvement plan to the Kanto Local Finance Bureau.

GMO Coin added that they “sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and worry that our customers and stakeholders have incurred”, adding that:

“We deeply reflect on taking this administrative punishment seriously […] and steadily improve the system risk management system by implementing [an] improvemen[t] plan, so that we can offer service[s] [so] that customers can feel secure and safe.”

GMO Internet is also involved in crypto mining, having announced in September of last year that they planned on cornering 6 percent of the Bitcoin (BTC) mining market in 2018.

In the wake of the stricter regulatory supervision in Japan, two crypto exchanges decided to shut down earlier this week rather than work with regulators for compliance. Crypto exchange Binance has also taken its services away from Japan, announcing a new office in Malta, after receiving a warning from the FSA about the exchange’s unregistered status.

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Crypto Markets Experience Slight Uptick After Week Of Lows

The crypto markets are seeing a slight upward trend Saturday, March 31, after hitting monthly lows this week, according to data from Coin360.

Coin360

Bitcoin (BTC) is above $7,000 again, trading for around $7,140 and up over 2 percent over a 24 hour period to press time. BTC saw a 24 hr low today of $6,623, and is currently trading 8 percent higher.

Bitcoin Charts

Ethereum (ETH) is also in the green, up almost 3 percent over a 24 hour period and trading at around $406 by press time, up from a 24-hour low of $371. 

Ethereum Charts

All of the top ten coins listed on CoinMarketCap are showing positive gains, with Stellar (XLM) showing the most growth, over 13.5 percent on the day, trading at an average of $0.21 at press time. Of the top ten, Neo is showing the least growth on the day, still green, but up only 0.16 percent over a 24-hour period.

This week’s market slump has been attributed to Twitter’s announcement of a crypto-ad ban, as well as MailChimp’s apparent closure of crypto-related accounts.

However, the week has also seen some wins for crypto adoption – possibly causing the slight market gains today – as South Korean capital Seoul has announced plans to launch its own cryptocurrency and thus create a friendlier environment for crypto and Blockchain innovation.

Poland, a country that made the news last month when it was uncovered that its central bank was secretly funding anti-crypto ads, is also now opening up towards crypto tech adoption, with one of Poland’s largest banks planning to implement a Blockchain storage system.

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IBM Evolution: Big Blue Is Finally Getting Serious About Cryptocurrency

It wasn’t long ago that your average enterprise wouldn’t even mention bitcoin, ethereum, or any number of cryptocurrencies in public.

Instead of using the cryptographically secure tokens to streamline workflows – or even talking about doing so – some of the most recognizable enterprises in blockchain have largely confined themselves to uses of blockchain as a new decentralized database, absent any digital assets.

Slowly however, over the past several years that has started to change. Executives at large corporations have shown themselves to be increasingly willing to take public stances both for (and against) what is now a $300 billion token market.

But if 2017 was the year that companies began talking about crypto, it wasn’t until recently that enterprises have been willing to publicly use cryptocurrencies in both early-stage prototypes and live applications.

Now, it would seem the floodgates are prepared to open, with the $140 billion IBM revealing to CoinDesk that it has been meeting with executives from commodities trading platforms, large corporations, and perhaps most importantly, central banks, to explore how cryptocurrencies can help save them money and generate revenue.

“We’re seeing tons of demand for digital asset issuance across the board,” said IBM’s new head of blockchain development Jesse Lund, who was hired from Wells Fargo earlier this year to help develop the computer giant’s cryptocurrency strategy.

At the moment, that work is largely being pursued using the public Stellar platform, and its native cryptocurrency, the lumen (XLM), an partnership made public last October.

But in interview, Lund said IBM is interested in expanding the business applications of cryptocurrencies in a number of ways.

Lund told CoinDesk:

“What’s happening is there’s this emergence of a new segment that could actually be one of the biggest segments, that is a permissioned but public blockchain network typology.”

The central bank ‘big toe’

There’s perhaps no better symbol of this convergence than IBM’s early work with central banks.

Over the past year, Lund says he’s met with 20 central banks exploring the potential benefits of issuing their own fiat cryptocurrency on a blockchain.

Specifically, he described the “most durable digital asset” as one that is “issued by a central bank that represents a claim on fiat deposits in the real world,” but still maintains “some semblance of monetary policy.”

Though he wouldn’t reveal the names of most of the central banks with which he’s meeting, he described them as largely comprised of banks from the G20, an international forum with members including China, Russia, the U.S. and the EU.

Lund further described the central banks as “clients in some capacity.” Based on these conversations, he said he expects the first central banks to issue a fiat currency on a blockchain will be “the smaller ones” with a high concentration of interest in Asia and North America.

However, “the most inspiring of the visions of the central banks I’ve talked to has been Sweden’s Riksbank,” said Lund.

In December 2017, the Riksbank published a white paper detailing its interest in moving Sweden’s cash supply to a digital platform, though it didn’t mention blockchain specifically.

Still, Lund expects to see decentralized cryptocurrency converge with central banks some time soon.

“I expect that we’ll see — sometime this year — a central bank at least putting its big toe in the water to issue a digital denomination of their fiat currency into the wild,” said Lund. “Probably in a controlled format.”

Beyond currency

But IBM’s work with assets issued on a blockchain goes beyond central bank-sanctioned cryptocurrency.

By using the same technology that is allowing an increasing number of startups to raise capital on the Stellar platform, IBM is exploring a wide range of other tokens.

Lund breaks down the demand IBM is seeing into three main kinds of tokens: securities tokens that give owners a stake in the issuing company, utility tokens that give users access to a service such as phone minutes and commodities tokens that represent precious metals and other physical assets.

“We’re actually seeing a move toward the issuance of tokens that have a higher velocity that represent, for example, a claim on a portion of gold bullion sitting in a vault somewhere,” he said.

Beyond the obvious potential interest in this work from commodities exchanges, Lund said IBM is being approached by retail companies, beverage providers and energy companies looking to tokenize various aspects of their business offerings.

A fourth category of companies Lund said is approaching IBM are startups looking to raise capital, though he admits these opportunities have proved less enticing.

“We’re less inclined to do those, we like to see more maturity in the clients that we work with,” Lund added.

Beyond Stellar

So far, IBM’s work with cryptocurrencies has been largely confined to the Stellar network and its native lumen cryptocurrency, which it has used largely in cross-border payments trials.

The company itself is running nine Stellar nodes that help confirm those transactions based in locations around the world, such as Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong and the U.S. However, going forward, IBM is open to working with any number of blockchains.

The most serious of that work appears to be with the Sovrin Foundation that contributed the original codebase of Hyperledger Indy, and is now preparing to issue a crypto asset in an ICO.

While Lund didn’t reveal details about that work, he indicated there is an early-stage partnership forming with the non-profit organization. More news, he said, is expected shortly.

From there, IBM’s work with cryptocurrencies even further converges on its work with permissioned blockchains.

In Janauary, IBM Research published a detailed white paper that described their work to apply a transaction model used by bitcoin into Hyperledger Fabric’s underlying chaincode.

Designed for purely experimental purposes to help compare transaction through-puts in the permissioned blockchain to those on public ledgers, the “Fabric Coin” effort resulted in improvements that were included in the Hyperledger Fabric 1.1 released earlier this month.

In this way, Lund expects to see further business opportunties between public and private blockchains continue to develop.

He concluded:

“We’re going to see a lot more convergence between those two ends of the spectrum. The bitcoin and cryptocurrency space that has been hands-off for enterprises and the private, country club blockchain space that is on the other side.”

IBM image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Company Enables Artists to Sell Unlimited Concert Tickets by Using Blockchain-Powered VR

Millions of tickets are sold yearly for musiс fans to see artists of all calibers, from small venues to large arena concerts. However it is not physically possible for every fan to be able to see their favorite artist; the more popular they are, the more people miss out, as venues quickly reach capacity. Yet virtual reality company CEEK are looking to change this and tackle the issue of demand outstripping supply in live music.

Viewing the concert through a headset

According to CEEK, by allowing artists to sell unlimited ‘virtual’ tickets for fans to view the concert through a headset, the company have removed the upper limit (and therefore lost potential revenue) on tickets available to be sold. They are already available to purchase at retailers such as Amazon (and recently sold out at US retailer Best Buy), and simply connect to the user’s smartphone to allow for streaming. Since CEEK have partnered with Universal and Apple, music fans can enjoy concerts from an impressive lineup of artists who typically sell out, including Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and U2. In addition, they have partnered with T-Mobile to enable customers to use VR data-free; a seemingly small detail that will actually make a real beneficial difference for customers.

Celebrity Coin Mint

A unique and defining feature of CEEK is the ‘Celebrity Coin Mint,’ which allows artists to create unique custom virtual coins for fans, in order to purchase virtual merchandise or take part in VIP events. Artists can create these custom coins ‘within minutes’ on the CEEK platform without having to have an ICO. As each of these coins have a linked Ethereum address, the CEEK tokens act like a cryptocurrency and allow fans to possess bespoke items that will increase in value over time. Fans can also use CEEK tokens to vote for concert content. Established partners and other ticket sellers could also accept CEEK tokens as a payment method for gig tickets, allowing these tickets to be traded within CEEK and further increasing demand. The company claims, as unique minted tokens are created, demand for the service will increase, as it is not a feature offered by other crypto. Thus it is an area of potentially unlimited revenue for artists of any level of popularity.

CEEK are also decimalizing rights clearances which will allow creators to use the licensed music worldwide, further boosting revenues and simplifying the overall process.

When it comes to security, the Ethereum Blockchain provides consumers with confidence that their transactions are secure and transparent. According to the company, those using the CEEK Blockchain can maintain or trade their digital assets for a much lower price than on other platforms. The souvenir merchandise purchased by fans using CEEK have both physical and digital assets cryptographically authenticated, eliminating the risk of counterfeit goods. CEEK declare that ‘we are actually using Blockchain in the way it was intended,’ by driving this decentralized sales process and increasing efficiencies.

Future Plans and Token sale

With a formidable team at the helm (CEO Mary Spio has previously founded media platforms with clients including XBOX and Coca-Cola), CEEK’s white paper sets out ambitious plans for the future, including having their VR in use by 100 mln devices by the end of 2018. They are continuing to expand and build upon their existing infrastructure to support the Blockchain ecosystem. Their public token sale begins on April 15th. Further into 2018, they plan to enable live VR streaming of music festivals, and the introduction of a Smart Wallet system.

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.