Posted on

TNW: Binance Lite to Allow Australians to Purchase Bitcoin at Newsagents

Binance Lite will enable the exchange’s Australian customers to buy Bitcoin with fiat money from supported newsagent stores.

Major cryptocurrency exchange Binance is expanding its “Binance Lite” service to allow Australian residents to purchase Bitcoin (BTC) at newsagents, technology news outlet The Next Web reported on March 19.

The new service Binance Lite — which will initially be introduced in Australia — is purportedly set to enable customers to buy digital currency with fiat money from more than 1,300 supported newsagents within the country. The service currently supports only the purchase of Bitcoin, although it will offer more digital currency and fiat options at a later date.

Before using the service, customers are requested to pass account verification, including Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering procedures. Following that, users will be able to place an order online, deposit cash at a newsagent, and receive their Bitcoin “within minutes.” Australian customers of Binance Lite will reportedly be required to pay a five percent fee for operations.

Earlier this month, CEO of Binance Changpeng Zhao hinted at the creation of a new fiat-to-crypto exchange in Argentina in a tweet. Following the tweet, crypto news website CoinSpice reported about an agreement between the government of Argentina with Binance Labs — the exchange’s investment and social impact arm — to co-invest in blockchain projects that are backed by the exchange.

In January, Binance added support for credit card cryptocurrency purchases through its partnership with payment processor Simplex. Zhao said then that the exchange’s clients can purchase digital assets with credit cards and “start trading in minutes.”

Last November, Binance confirmed to Cointelegraph that it would use an automated KYC application provided by financial software firm Refinitiv. This will purportedly allow Binance to integrate the World-Check Risk Intelligence database into their internal workflow and streamline the screening process for onboarding, KYC, and third-party risk due diligence.

Posted on

Australia: Clients Take Crypto Fund Manager to Court, Cite $14.2 Million in Losses

Cryptocurrency fund manager Stefanos Papanastasiou is about to be brought to court by his clients over alleged losses.

The founder of what reportedly claims to be Australia’s first online mattress retailer OzMattress and cryptocurrency fund manager Stefanos Papanastasiou is about to be brought to court by his clients over the loss of over AUD$20 million ($14.2 million). Daily Australian newspaper The Age reported about the controversy on March 19.

Per the report, Papanastasiou told his clients in 2017 that he had spent half a million Australian dollars ($355,000) to develop an algorithm that delivers substantial returns through the trading of Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH)-based tokens. According to the claim filed by property developer Savvas Alexiadis, one of his clients, Papanastasiou owes him more than AUD$2.7 million (nearly $2 million).

The documents filed with the Supreme Court of Victoria state that Alexiadis transferred over AUD$2.1 million (nearly $1.5 million) into a Papanastasiou’s trading account. Furthermore, he reportedly also transferred an unspecified quantity of BTC into wallets managed by Papanastasiou.

The claim also cites messages allegedly sent by Papanastasiou:

“Sam, don’t get caught up in the details. Leave it to me. Let me know password login for ACX [trading account]. I’ll deal with whatever funds are in there … Eyes on the prize Sam. Understood? Got your back.”

Furthermore, the documents also claim that Papanastasiou asked Alexiadis to transfer AUD$40,000 (over $28,000) to his wife, AUD$35,000 (nearly $25,000) to his sister and $450,000 (almost $320,000) to a mattress supplier in Thomastown, promising to send an equivalent in crypto assets.

The Age notes that Papanastasiou and his wife, Shalini Ganapathy, defaulted on the purchase of a AUD$5.44 million house after December 2017, when Bitcoin had reached its $20,000 peak.

The website of Papanastasiou’s mattress retail business, OzMattress, is seemingly offline at press time. The claim also notes that Papanastasiou has repeatedly refused to provide an account of trading activity and did not comply with requests to repay the amounts asked by his clients.

In response to Alexadais’s claim to return the around $2 million, Papanastasiou reportedly said:

“The Supreme Court action is new to me and I intend to defend myself against his claim as he has been compensated in excess of $2.7m […] Sam [Alexadais] and his associates have a lot to answer for as the truth of events is vastly different and far more sinister.”

Also, Mark Thompson, a former Australian Football League coach accused of MDMA and methamphetamine trafficking in May last year, contributed over one million Australian dollars (about $709,000) to Papanastasiou’s fund as one of his clients.

As Cointelegraph reported, the Australian anti-money laundering watchdog has recently suspended the registrations of two cryptocurrency exchanges in connection with an unrelated drug trafficking case.

In other law enforcement and crypto news, a United States District Attorney also recently charged the founders of an international cryptocurrency pyramid scheme that involved the marketing of an allegedly fraudulent digital currency called “OneCoin.”

Posted on

Australia Announces National Blockchain Roadmap and Further Boost to Government Funding

Australia has unveiled a national blockchain strategy and roadmap, with a boost of AU$100,000 in further federal funding.

Australia has unveiled a national blockchain strategy and roadmap, with a boost of AU$100,000 (~$71,200) in further funding from the federal government. The news was announced in a joint media release from two Australian ministries on March 18.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews and Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham have jointly stated that the new policy roadmap aims to make Australia’s nascent blockchain industry into a global leader.

The roadmap will encompass the development of blockchain “regulation, skills and capacity building, innovation, investment, and international competitiveness and collaboration.”

According to the media release, previous blockchain investments from Australia’s liberal national government — under Prime Minister Scott Morrison — have included AU$700,000 (~$500,000) to the country’s Digital Transformation Agency in 2018-19 explore the benefits of using blockchain for government payments, as well as AU$350,000 (~$250,000) to Standards Australia to promote the development of standardized international blockchain standards.

This fresh funding will specifically enable the Ministry for Industry, Science and Technology to sponsor Australian companies to join the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade)’s mission to the Consensus blockchain conference in New York City later this year.

Minister Andrews has outlined that they “will work closely with blockchain and technology experts from industry and academia […] as well as with CSIRO’s Data61 to incorporate findings from their forthcoming future scenarios report on blockchain.”

As Cointelegraph has previously reported, CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) is an Australian government corporate entity that undertakes scientific research to advance local industries. Its digital innovation center, Data61, has spearheaded multiple major blockchain projects to date.

In the media release, Minister Birmingham emphasized that the government’s blockchain endorsement will help ensure that “Australia and [its] tech companies stay ahead of the game in one of the world’s fastest growing technology sectors.”

Over the course of the past year, major initiatives have been underway in Australia to integrate blockchain across both the government and the financial sector.

In July 2018, IBM signed a five-year AU$1 billion ($740 million) deal with the Australian government to use blockchain and other new technologies to improve data security and automation across federal departments.

Posted on

Australia: Financial Regulator Suspends Two Crypto Exchanges in Drug Trafficking Case

Australia’s financial watchdog has shut down the operations of two crypto exchanges in connection with a drug trafficking case.

The Australian anti-money laundering watchdog has suspended the registrations of two cryptocurrency exchanges in connection with a drug trafficking case, the agency announced in a press release on Friday, March 8.  

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) — a government financial intelligence agency that aims to prevent money laundering, tax evasion, welfare fraud and terrorism — suspended the two crypto exchanges’ operations because of their association with a suspect in an alleged organized crime syndicate.

According to the joint press release from AUSTRAC and the Australian Federal Police, a 27-year-old man has been arrested on several drug trafficking-related charges. The investigation found that the accused man “was a key member” of the crypto exchange businesses, leading the watchdog to suspend their operations.

According to Reuters, the move is the first crypto exchange suspension under AUSTRAC’s authority, since new legislation last year brought crypto exchanges within its sphere of oversight.

The number of cryptocurrency-related fraud and crimes has dramatically increased worldwide. As previously reported, about $1.7 billion in cryptocurrency had been obtained via illicit means in 2018, according to research published by crypto analytics company CipherTrace.

Previously, the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority had revealed that investment scams related to crypto led to over $255 million in investor losses in 2018, with approximately 5,000 reported cases, as Cointelegraph wrote on Feb. 6.

As Cointelegraph reported just yesterday, the South Korean Supreme Prosecutors’ Office established a new task force, aimed at fighting cryptocurrency-related scams. The number of such crimes in the country has reportedly increased from 53 registered cases in 2016 to 4,591 in 2018.

Posted on

Australia: National Transport Insurance Partners on Blockchain for Food Safety Trial

Australia’s National Transport Insurance has announced it will trial a blockchain system to improve supply chain integrity for beef exports abroad.

Australia’s National Transport Insurance (NTI) has announced it will trial a blockchain system to improve supply chain integrity for beef exports abroad, local transport industry magazine Fully Loaded ATN reports Dec. 10.

NTI will reportedly be partnering with BeefLedger, an Australian “integrated provenance, blockchain security and payments platform,” which combines blockchain with Internet of Things (IoT) technology to bolster product credentials across the supply chain.

NTI and Beefledger’s pilot will use the system to track the provenance and production of Australian beef exports to Shanghai, from their rearing on South Australia’s Limestone Coast to a processing facility at Casino in New South Wales, and on to China. As ATN reports, Australia is the third largest beef exporter globally, with some 45,000 cattle producers forming the backbone of the industry.  

The use of blockchain to provide an immutable record of the provenance, safety and integrity of beef products is expected to bolster the confidence of suppliers, exporters and consumers alike. BeefLedger chairman Warwick Powell has explained the choice of the Australia-China route for the blockchain pilot, outlining that in the context of burgeoning demand for beef imports, there is an “increased risk of counterfeiting and poor safety standards.” He noted that:

“Research shows us that ethical standards and concerns for animal welfare, along with authenticity and proof of product origin, are amongst the top priorities for Chinese consumers. It’s also what’s driving consumer interest in Australian products.”

As previously reported, tech giant IBM has partnered with major U.S. retailer Walmart on the development of “The Food Trust” blockchain, which aims to track food provenance globally and allow companies to easily identify issues involved with food recalls, such as tracing contamination more quickly to limit customer risk.

This summer, the government of the South Indian state of Kerala announced it would begin using blockchain for food supply and distribution, also in combination with IoT technology.

Posted on

Australian Regulator Hints at Increased Crypto Exchange and ICO Scrutiny

Cryptocurrency exchanges and ICO operators in Australia form a focus of attention for watchdog the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Australian regulator the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has revealed plans to increase scrutiny of cryptocurrency exchanges and Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) in its ‘Corporate Plan’ published this week.

ASIC, which acts as a supervisory organ for financial market operators, highlighted the exchange sector as an area of priority through 2022.

Specifically, the body plans to ensure any “threats of harm” from the nascent industry are mitigated as part of its regulatory remit.

“Potential harms from technology driven by the growing digital environment and structural changes in financial services and markets,” it announced in the Plan, continuing:

“We will continue to focus on monitoring threats of harm from emerging products (e.g. ICOs and crypto currencies), cyber resilience, the adequate management of technological solutions by firms and markets, and misconduct that is facilitated by or through digital and/or cyber-based mechanisms.”

In the near term meanwhile, ASIC wants to closely eye ICOs in particular, again with the aim of ensuring compliant behavior.

“Monitoring emerging products, such as ICOs, and intervening where there is poor behaviour and potential harm to consumers and investors,” the report outlines describing one of its 2018-19 “projects.”

A second area of focus for the coming year, ASIC adds, will be “developing our approach for applying the principles for regulating market infrastructure providers to crypto exchanges.”

The release comes the same week as Australia saw its first crypto exchange to raise funds via an ICO respond to multiple enquiries from fellow securities regulator the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) over its own plans.

Amid a regulatory environment that has often attracted controversy, Byte Power Group – the company planning to launch a crypto exchange – insisted it met the various requirements to proceed with its token sale, having sought ongoing legal advice.

Posted on

Australian Firm Aiming for $15 Mln ICO for Crypto Exchange Addresses Regulatory Scrutiny

Byte Power Group (BPG), the Australian company aiming to launch the country’s first cryptocurrency exchange using an ICO, responded to regulatory pressure with fresh information about its plans Wednesday, September 5.

In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), BPG addressed concerns the regulator raised last month as details of the fundraising became public.

BPG has since begun selling its BPX tokens, aiming to raise $15 million to build the exchange, whereupon users will be able to use the tokens to pay fees in a manner similar to that of fellow exchange Binance.

On August 1, the ASX sent correspondence to executives with queries on various aspects of its future operations, including whether or not BPX tokens constituted securities under Australian law.

Based on “legal advice” it obtained, BPG replied Wednesday that the tokens “are not financial products.” In a statement addressing a total of 17 queries, the company writes,

“The offer of BPX tokens does not constitute an offer to issue one or more securities […] derivatives or any other kind of financial product.”

The responses also included acknowledgment of BPG’s requirement to register as a reporting authority with the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), as well as adopt an anti-money laundering (AML) framework and adhere to know-your-customer (KYC) statutes.

Australia has traditionally been a problematic jurisdiction for cryptocurrency businesses due to a turbulent regulatory landscape, which many consider unfairly biased against their interests in the terms of taxation.

Nonetheless, this year has seen various international exchange operators invest in the domestic market, including China’s Huobi in July.