Posted on

Bahrain Invites Indian Firms to Facilitate Fintech Development in Region

Bahrain has invited Indian companies to its fintech sandbox in a bid to promote new technologies in the region.

Bahrain has invited Indian companies to its fintech sandbox in a bid to facilitate the development of blockchain technology in the region, The Economic Times reported on March 3.

Bahrain has reportedly proposed a range of opportunities to Indian companies as their key market in the fields of blockchain, digital assets, open banking, and remittances in an effort to boost fintech growth in the country.

Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) Senior Manager Dalal Buhejji reportedly said that some Indian companies applied for the Bahraini fintech sandbox last December, while EDB also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Maharashtra government to develop a framework for the joint promotion of fintech on both markets. Buhejji added:

Central Bank of Bahrain has put in the right ecosystem to support growth and innovation. We have seen different new regulations coming out recently to support open banking, crypto asset trade regulation and draft regulation on robo advisory.”

The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) launched the regulatory sandbox to allow blockchain and crypto companies to work in the country, pending formalized regulations, in February of this year. The initiative is set to enable firms “to test their solution on a limited number of users, with a limited number of transactions,” as well as to expedite new companies’ entrance into the market.

Later that month, Bahraini Shariah compliant cryptocurrency exchange Rain first completed the CBB’s Regulatory Sandbox. The exchange reportedly passed a Shariah compliance certification, which was led by a leading Sharia consultancy and audit firm licensed by the CBB , the Shariyah Review Bureau.

In January, the University of Bahrain announced that it would issue diplomas on a blockchain as part of an overall digitization strategy for mobile learners. To implement the initiative, the university reportedly employs the Blockcerts open standard in partnership with Learning Machine, a startup providing a system to issue verifiable official records using a blockchain-anchored format.

Posted on

Indian Gov’t to Approach Crypto Regulation ‘With Due Caution’

Previous suggestions of a lasting stance on crypto from India’s government appear to have been overturned by fresh comments.

The Indian government is approaching cryptocurrency regulation with caution, tech magazine Quartz reported Dec. 31, quoting Pon Radhakrishnan, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Shipping.

The latest episode in India’s increasingly drawn-out path to formalizing its domestic cryptocurrency economy, Radhakrishnan said that the lack of a “globally acceptable solution” meant lawmakers were unlikely to issue formal statues in the short term.

Addressing the lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha, on Dec. 28, he said:

“In absence of a globally acceptable solution and the need to devise technically feasible solution, the department is pursuing the matter with due caution. It is difficult to state a specific timeline to come up with clear recommendations.”

India currently enforces a ban on banks servicing cryptocurrency-related operations. Enacted in July, the Reserve Bank of India’s rule has led to the exit of several local businesses and a Supreme Court challenge.

Thus far, neither the central bank nor the government has been moved by the consumer backlash, a governmental panel source earlier this month suggesting making cryptocurrency partially illegal was still on the cards.

Nonetheless, this week saw the same panel reportedly signal it would be in favor of regulation over criminalization of the sector.

At present, it remains legal to own cryptocurrency in India, but some parties have publicly stated as of October that they consider such ownership illegal.

Posted on

Hodler’s Digest, Dec. 24–30: Top Stories, Price Movements, Quotes and FUD of the Week

Bitcoin Private confirmed the secret creation of an additional 2 million coins, and South Korea rules in favor of Bithumb in investor lawsuit.

 

Top Stories This Week

Nvidia Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Losses After Lower GPU Mining Demand

Graphics processing unit (GPU) producer Nvidia is currently facing a class action lawsuit over losses that the company reported when lower crypto prices lowered demand for GPUs by miners. The Schall law firm announced the lawsuit this week, with the complaint alleging that Nvidia made false and misleading statements to the market. Schall noted that since the GPU producer claimed that drop off in demand for GPU on miners would not negatively affect the business, the lawsuit has merit.

Altcoin Bitcoin Private Team Confirms 2 mln Additional Coins Were Secretly Premined

The development team for altcoin Bitcoin Private (BTCP) has confirmed this week that 2.04 million units of BTCP were created that were never intended to exist on the altcoin’s blockchain. Following a report in late December from a digital asset analytics website that revealed the discrepancy, the BTCP team launched an investigation that eventually found that the extra coins had been mined, but they do not yet know who created the coins and for what reason.

South Korea Rules in Favor of Bithumb After Investor Lawsuit Over $355,000 Hack

South Korean court has ruled in favor of crypto exchange Bithumb in a lawsuit in which an investor had sued the exchange for his loss of around $355,000 in an alleged hack. Ahn Park alleged that he had been the victim of a hack of his Bithumb account on Nov. 20, 2017, which resulted in the aforementioned loss, and cited Bithumb’s lack of security safeguards as befit a financial services firm. However, the court did not find Park’s claims that Bithumb’s activities were similar to that of services offered in the financial sector to be true, and ruled against him.Top Stories This Week

New Indian Governmental Committee Supports Crypto Legalization, Media Reports

Local India media reported this week that a governmental committee has suggested that cryptocurrencies be legalized within the country. An unnamed senior official who reportedly attended the panel’s meetings on cryptocurrencies stated that there was a “general consensus that cryptocurrency cannot be dismissed as completely illegal. It needs to be legalized with strong riders.” The government reportedly set up this panel after the Reserve Bank of India’s ban on banks dealing with crypto businesses and persons in April this year.

Major US Magazine Time Column Reports on the Freeing Potential of Bitcoin

Time magazine published a column this week that praised the liberating potential of Bitcoin, mentioning Venezuela as an example of a country where the citizens can benefit from the cryptocurrency. According to the article, Bitcoin is a valuable financial tool for avoiding censorship, specifically noting that Bitcoin can help Venezuelans avoid inflation, as a government cannot simply print more Bitcoin. The currency can also be used to bypass mass surveillance in places like China.

Winners and Losers

The crypto markets are looking steady today, with Bitcoin trading around $3,874.67, Ripple around $0.37 and Ethereum at $138.85. Total market cap is around $130 billion.

The top three altcoin gainers of the week are SoundDAC, Bitspace and HondaisCoin. The top three altcoin losers of the week are RabbitCoin, Accelerator Network and CatoCoin.

Winners and Losers

For more info on crypto prices, make sure to read Cointelegraph’s market analysis.

Most Memorable Quotations

“Block-chain [sic] technology. No joke. Super powerful stuff, and the first one to figure out how to hack it, manipulate it or bring it down wins.” — Andrew Bustamante, reportedly a former CIA intelligence officer, speaking of the biggest threats to national security

Most Memorable Quotations

“Once there are new issues, then Ether will rebound aggressively. When the ICO market returns, Ether will quickly test $200. The timing of the ICO rebirth is 12 to 18 months out,” — Arthur Hayes, BitMEX CEO

“Yeah no, I have my disagreements with the bitcoin roadmap, PoW, etc but they’re trying to do something that’s genuinely cool tech. BSV is a pure dumpster fire,”  — Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum (ETH) co-founder

“At some point, yes, it will drive a profound shift in how we communicate and collaborate, but we’re not there yet,”  — Lance Braunstein, E*Trade Financial Corp. CIO, speaking about “blockchain” as a buzzword

FUD of the Week

Hackers Steal Almost 1 Million in Phishing Attack on Electrum Wallet

A hack that reportedly took place this week against cryptocurrency wallet Electrum allowed a malicious party to steal almost 250 Bitcoin (BTC), commentators on social media reported. The hack was then confirmed by Electrum, which explained that it consisted of the creation of a fake version of the wallet that fooled users into providing password information. Affected users reported on social media that they failed to log onto their wallets after providing two-factor authentication code, which Electrum does not actually request during login.

WSJ: Hundreds of Crypto Projects Show Signs of Fraudulent Activity

Research published by the Wall Street Journal this week has revealed that hundreds of crypto offerings show signs of fraudulent activity, improbable returns and plagiarism. For its research, the WSJ downloaded the whitepapers of 3,291 crypto projects that had announced initial coin offerings (ICO), conducting an analysis of the documents. The research found that 16 percent — or 513 — of the aforementioned white papers showed signs of plagiarism and identity theft, and that 2,000 contained sentences with turns like “nothing to lose, guaranteed profit, return on investment, highest return, high return, funds profit, no risk and little risk.”

FUD of the Week

Chinese Media Reports Jihan Wu and Jenke Group to Set Down as Bitmain CEOs

Unconfirmed media reports in China this week wrote that Jihan Wu and the Jenke Group will be reportedly soon retire as CEOs of leading mining ASIC producer Bitmain. According to unnamed sources, Bitmain is currently in a transition period, and employees are allegedly unhappy with the outcomes of the double-CEO system. The Chinese local media outlet also noted that their successor has the surname of Wang, without providing further information.

Japanese Giant GMO Internet to Stop BTC Miner Production After Losses in Q4

Japanese internet giant GMO Internet Group announced its intentions to leave the Bitcoin mining hardware sector. Citing major losses in Q4 of this year, GMO, which began its foray into BTC mining in 2017, has written in a public document that it will no longer develop, manufacture or sell miners, citing difficulties in the current business environment. The document also noted that GMO will relocate its mining operation “to a region that will allow us to secure cleaner and less expensive power supply.”

Best Cointelegraph Features

From Blanket Ban to Its Own Stablecoin: How Facebook’s Relationship With Crypto Changed Over 2018

Facebook often made the news this year in the FUD sense, as it banned, and then partially unbanned, advertising from cryptocurrency-related companies. In response to the rumors that the social media giant would be creating its own cryptocurrency, Cointelegraph looks at the history of how Facebook has interacted with crypto this year.

From “Obsolete” Blockchain to Bitcoin at $1 Mln: Predictions of 2018

As the year comes to a close, Cointelegraph looks at different predictions made this year about crypto, from the very accurate to the wildly off. As Bitcoin drops below $4,000 at year’s end, who was right?

Posted on

Corporate Blockchain Adoption Reaches 44%, Says Survey

Blockchain tech is one of the most widely adopted technologies in the current market, says Tata Communications.

Indian telecoms giant Tata Communications named the key barriers to blockchain adoption for businesses globally, in a survey published Dec. 12.

Part of a survey on emerging sectors — dubbed ‘The Cycle of Progress’ — Tata’s report noted concerns around costs, security and privacy as the “key adoption barriers for business decision makers” considering the implementation of new technologies.

The survey also highlighted a growing skills gap as one of the major challenges in the adoption of new technology, including blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The report also noted, however, that “[r]egardless of where their business is on its digital transformation journey, decision makers are firmly focused on the positive impact of technology.”

“The Cycle of Progress sounds a warning call for businesses, with a clear ‘perception versus reality’ gap emerging between different levels in organisations, as innovation gathers momentum,” Tata’s chief digital officer C.R. Srinivasan said, adding:

“This disparity highlights that directors and business unit heads must get better at informing the CEO of any challenges they are facing when rolling out new technologies such as IoT and AI.”

Blockchain, the company added, is being adopted by 44 percent of organizations that responded to the survey.

The comments come amid volatile times in India for the industry, especially regarding the legal status of cryptocurrency.

After the central bank instigated a ban on banks servicing industry businesses this spring, a court challenge remains underway.

In line with the emerging regulatory environment elsewhere, Indian lawmakers may ultimately prefer a heavily-legislated but legal cryptocurrency ecosystem over an outright ban, sources claimed this week.

Tata has engaged in blockchain research on a larger scale, also creating a dedicated whitepaper with advice for businesses looking to integrate the technology.

A separate forecast earlier this year meanwhile claimed blockchain in telecoms alone will become a $1 billion industry by 2023.

Posted on

New Indian Governmental Committee Favors Legalizing Cryptocurrencies, Media Reports

A new Indian governmental committee reportedly favors cryptocurrency regulation and legalization over prohibition.

A governmental committee in India has reportedly suggested that cryptocurrencies be legalized in the country, English-language local media TheNewIndianExpress (TNIE) reported on Dec. 26.

According to the article, an unnamed senior official who reportedly attended the panel’s meetings on cryptocurrencies stated:

“There is a general consensus that cryptocurrency cannot be dismissed as completely illegal. It needs to be legalized with strong riders.”

Previous Indian government panel meetings had reportedly suggested a complete ban on cryptocurrencies in the country earlier in December, stating that “any kind of dealing in such currencies should be treated as ‘illegal.’”

India’s government reportedly set up this most recent second inter-ministerial committee, which is led by Subhash Chandra Garg, the Department of Economic Affairs secretary, after the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) ban on banks dealing with crypto businesses and persons in April of this year.

While a previous committee had recommended a total crypto ban in March 2017, the new committee, TNIE writes, was set up to deal with the conflicting opinions on the RBI ban.

According to the TNIE, the committee has already had two meetings, and the next one is expected to take place in January.

This committee includes members of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, RBI, Securities and Exchange Board of India and the revenue secretary.

The official also noted that the members of the committee “have also taken inputs from cryptocurrency exchanges and experts,” concluding by stating that they will work on the legal aspects with India’s law ministry.

As Cointelegraph reported at the beginning of the current month, G20 countries have called for the taxation of cryptocurrencies and regulation preventing their use for money laundering, according to a document stipulated during a Buenos Aires summit.

Some of the members of the second Indian governmental committee, such as the RBI executive director Ganesh Kumar and Ministry of Finance officials, participated in those G20 meetings. Because of this, according to the article, “they are expected to include insights they gained from the global deliberations in their report.”

In October, news broke that the developers of India’s first Bitcoin (BTC) “ATM” were arrested on criminal charges. According to local mainstream media, the two — who are also founders of India’s first crypto exchange Unocoin — were booked for criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery.

A press statement from India’s Central Crime Branch noted that since the ATM had not been approved by the government, it should not have been called an ATM. Prashant Mali, a cyber lawyer, explained that if “kiosk” had been written instead of “ATM,” the installation would have fallen into a grey area of the law.

Posted on

India’s Telecom Regulator Completes Mobile Blockchain Pilot with IBM

India’s telecom regulator and telecom firms completed blockchain tests with IBM to improve mobile network data records.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has completed blockchain pilots with tech giant IBM to improve mobile data records. The trials were reported today, Dec. 12, by local English-language, Indian daily newspaper The Economic Times.

The TRAI, India’s telecom regulator, along with major telecom providers, have completed tests with tech firms such as IBM in order to explore blockchain’s benefits in improving mobile network systems such as mobile number portability (MNP) and the Do Not Call Registry (DNC).

Sriram Raghavan, vice president of IBM Research, claimed that the company has carried out proof-of-concepts (PoC) and pilots with “all the major telecom providers,” as well as the TRAI. However, the VP did not specify the names of telecom firms that participated in testing.

Raghavan explained that the latest telecom blockchain application will allow companies to store MNP and DNC data on a private distributed ledger with “customer consent.” According to the expert, the solution will enable the governmental agency to have better tools for monitoring the network in order to “spot malfeasance quickly.”

Mobile number portability, or MNP, is a feature that enables mobile phone users to retain their mobile telephone numbers when shifting from one mobile network carrier to another. Do Not Call Registry, or DNC, represents a data record that aims to provide customers with an opportunity to limit incoming telemarketing calls.

A TRAI official has confirmed that telecom suppliers are currently working on agreements with tech firms, as they said on a meeting this Monday. According to the official, the companies will set up the launch of blockchain-based mobile record systems “in the next couple of months.”

In late May of this year, the TRAI first announced its plans to implement blockchain in order to prevent malfeasance in the telecom industry. The agency explained that the blockchain solution would provide regulators with better tracking tools for spotting telecom spammers who use unregistered 10-digit phone numbers.

In mid-November, IBM partnered with the major Spanish telecom supplier Telefónica in order to manage international mobile network call traffic.

Posted on

Indian Government Panel Suggests Crypto Dealings Should Illegal, Local Sources Say

An Indian government panel has reportedly proposed regulation making cryptocurrencies illegal via the Reserve Bank of India.

An Indian government panel has reportedly suggested a new legal framework within the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) that completely bans cryptocurrencies in the country. English-language Indian media outlet CNBCTV18 reported on the framework on Dec. 6.

The article cites an unnamed source as noting that “the panel has categorically said that all such currencies should be treated as illegal” and that “any kind of dealing in such currencies should be treated as” such.

CNBCTV18 notes that the Indian government had created a panel to create “norms” for digital currencies — headed by secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) Subhash Chandra Garg — which submitted its report to Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley.

The debate over crypto’s legality began in April of this year, when the RBI stated it would no longer provide services to persons or legal entities involved with crypto. In response to the ban, eleven crypto-related businesses filed a suit against the bank in the country’s Supreme Court, with the legal outcome still unclear.

As Cointelegraph reported in November, the Indian government is also working on cryptocurrency regulation. The stipulated bill is expected to become public this month.

The current climate isn’t friendly overall to crypto enthusiasts in India. Also in November, the developers of India’s first Bitcoin “ATM” were arrested on criminal charges.

While the charges haven’t been disclosed, local mainstream media reported that they include criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery. The developers were also the co-founders of the country’s first crypto exchange, Unocoin.

At the same time, one of the leading global auditing companies, Ernst & Young (EY), announced the are looking to hire 2,000 employees in India. The objective is to expand its digital services, including artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain applications.

Posted on

TransferGo Opens Payments Corridor to India Using Ripple Tech

Payment provider TransferGo has announced it is launching a remittance corridor to India that uses Ripple technology for near real-time transactions.

Available from “anywhere in Europe,” the firm said in a press release that using Ripple’s services allows it to replace the “multiple slow incumbent communications systems, most prominently Swift, where transfers can take up to 2–3 days.”

The release did not clarify which of Ripple’s blockchain-based payments products TransferGo is using for the service.

The payments company cited the “multi-billion dollar” Europe-to-India payments corridor for its initial focus on that market, adding that “high” Ripple adoption in India was a factor.

TransferGo also hinted that this may just be the start of its blockchain-based remittances, saying the integration “opens up new horizons for TransferGo to develop additional products and services.”

Daumantas Dvilinskas, founder and CEO of TransferGo, said in the release:

“By using Ripple’s revolutionary blockchain technology, we’re able to establish real-time communication between us and our banking partners in India, allowing TransferGo customers to send money to family and friends or make international payments immediately.”

The firm also announced a slower but free service along the same corridor, that also uses Ripple payment rails. Offering “zero fees and a mid-market rate,” payments will arrive in 2-3 business days, according to the release.

Ripple’s SVP of customer success, Marcus Treacher, said “TransferGo is a great example of a forward-thinking payment provider that’s leaning in to new technology to facilitate real-time, cross-border money transfers for their customers. That’s a big step forward.”

Counting rupees 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.