The Russian Federal Financial Monitoring Service has ordered an analytical tool to track crypto transactions, especially those in Bitcoin.By the end of 2018, the new application will be included in a condensed monitoring system for the organization, whose main alleged aim is to confront fraud schemes and prevent terrorism funding. The tool is expected to unite fragmented information on fraud and link different cases. The winner of the government contract to develop such a monitoring program was the Moscow-based Institute for Information Security and Analysis (SPI). The SPI had previously developed iRule software, which was widely used by the Monitoring Service itself as well as by Russian security forces and insurance companies, according to BBC. The contract worth about $2.9 million and describes a technology that would allow to track digital wallet users' activity. The tool could find a particular person’s name, bank account, credit card, and cellphone number, as well as the number of the electronic wallet. It will also include data on cryptocurrency and Bitcoin transactions.
Blockchain cloud computing startup DFINITY has closed a new funding round worth over $100 million from repeat backers including Andreessen Horowitz.DFINITY, which aims to build what it describes as an “Internet Computer,” raised a total of $102 million Swiss francs ($105 million) from partners that also featured blockchain-focused investment outfit Polychain Capital. Both Polychain and Andreessen via its investment fund a16z had previously participated in the startup’s investment, contributing to a $61 million round in February. Having raised a total of just under $200 million since its foundation in 2015, DFINITY ultimately wants to create a platform which will host the world’s next generation of software and services on a public network,” “The Internet Computer is on track to become a critical piece of the future technology stack,” he added.
U.K. insurance market leader Lloyd’s of London will insure a crypto custody platform by U.S.-based custodial firm Kingdom Trust.
Kingdom Trust, which serves over 100,000 customers and has $12 billion in assets under custody, is the reportedly the “first” regulated financial institution to offer qualified custody for digital asset investments. Kingdom Trust provides digital currency storage services for more than 30 different assets.
The company is now launching insurance coverage for digital currency to protect investors against theft and destruction of assets. Matt Jennings, CEO of Kingdom Trust, said: "Qualified custody by a regulated, insured financial institution is a top priority and critical hurdle for institutions to invest in the digital asset markets. By adding another trusted specialist like Lloyd’s to our platform, we’re ensuring that current and future clients will have access to a highly-secure, complete safekeeping solution tailored to meet the challenges of institutional finance.”
In an interview with Reuters, Jennings declined to disclose the identity of the insurer that underwrote Kingdom Trust’s coverage through Lloyd’s marketplace, or the cost or terms of the policy. However, he noted that Kingdom Trust “received a ‘drastic discount’ because of its technology, a type of ‘cold storage,’ in which digital coins are stored offline.”
Iconiq Funds, the asset management arm of Germany-based Iconiq Holding, is launching a series of digital asset index funds beginning in Q4 2018. Investment into crypto assets will become available through traditional and regulated financial vehicles, such as exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and exchange-traded notes (ETNs).The first digital asset index fund is planned to be launched under Maltese jurisdiction as a Professional Investor Fund (PIF). It is currently under review by Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA). The company claims the “diversified exposure to the digital assets market” as a key selling point for this new series of instruments. An investment fund essentially hides the intricacies of crypto assets from its participant, offering participation in a selected group of tokens. An investor expects that, even if some tokens of the group won’t perform well, the growth of others will compensate for it. Iconiq Funds says the company will offer its financial products under the supervision of a governmental watchdog — such as MFSA for Malta. The team explains that, for many conservative investors, the lack of regulatory oversight was a key reason to avoid exposure to crypto assets. Later, Iconiq Funds also plans to offer other financial products suited for traditional investors’ demands, such as crypto index exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and notes (ETNs) in 2019.
Bithumb will open up account registrations after a month-long freeze.According to a spokesperson from banking partner Nonghyup Bank, Bithumb will meet specific requirements as dictated by South Korean law in return for regaining banking support. Nonghyup had previously suspended its services for Bithumb at the end of July, rumors at the time suggesting the decision had come after the exchange lost $17 million in its most recent hack a month previously. Bithumb has had a chequered history, with several hacks piling pressure on executives to ensure compliance. With the fresh agreement due to come into force August 30 meanwhile, markets have already begun reacting. Bithumb is currently ranked fifth largest crypto exchange in the world by daily trading volumes, seeing about $362.4 million in trades over the past 24 hours.
JP Morgan CIO Lori Beer said at a press conference in Buenos Aires that blockchain will “replace existing technology” in a few years, Cointelegraph reports.
“We will see a greater and wider use of blockchain. In a few years blockchain will replace the existing technology, today it only coexists with the current one,” Beer said.
Beer explained that JP Morgan uses blockchain technology to “simplify the payment process and to store customers’ information related to KYC (Know Your Customer) policy.” She added that blockchain technology helps to prevent money laundering.
Beer was also asked about JP Morgan’s position on buying cryptocurrencies. She explained that the bank only supports what is regulated and has specialists who are “evaluating what is happening” with virtual currencies. When asked about the institutional position regarding Initial Coin Offerings(ICOs), Beer preferred not to respond.
Earlier in August JP Morgan Chase’s CEO Jamie Dimon was optimistic about blockchain. “JPMorgan is testing blockchain and will use it for a whole lot of things,” he said.
Chinese tech giant Baidu has joined Tencent and Alibaba in imposing new anti-crypto measures.
Baidu, Chinese competitor to Google, has closed at least two popular crypto-related chat forums with a notice reportedly informing users that the move comes “in accordance with relevant laws, regulations and policies.”
Meanwhile, Tencent — the operator of the 1-billion-user social media platform WeChat, has reportedly issued a statement announcing its own ban on crypto trading. The platform has said it will monitor daily transactions in real time and block any suspicious transactions accordingly.
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba — whose subsidiary Ant Financial runs popular internet payment app Alipay — has for its part said it will restrict or permanently ban any accounts it finds to be engaged in crypto trading.
All three announcements follow closely upon the heels of last week’s onslaught of toughened anti-crypto measures in China. According to CT Japan, new measures are also reportedly underway to toughen the “clean-up” of third-party crypto payment channels, including those used by OTC platforms.
Second-largest bank in USA, Bank of America (BofA), has applied for another blockchain patent on the development of a secure crypto storage system.The patent, entitled “Block Chain Encryption Tags,” describes a system of recording and storing cryptocurrency-related transactions that are handled by enterprises. In short, the invention offers a system of data security for blockchain networks by implementing encryption and linking data units to the blocks of a certain blockchain. BofA has previously taken steps for adopting blockchain technology, having filed nearly 50 blockchain-based patents as of June 2018, making it reportedly the largest holder of blockchain-related patents among all companies, even beating the tech giant IBM. While BofA is one of the leading companies that promotes innovation in the blockchain sphere, the bank is still sceptical towards cryptocurrencies, despite having acquired a patent on the development of a digital currency exchange system in December 2017. In May, BofA reiterated its negative stance toward crypto, calling it “troubling” and confirming its decision to ban clients from buying crypto with their credit cards.
The de facto central bank of Singapore had signed a deal with multiple big name entities to ease digital asset settlements.Part of its ongoing Project Ubin blockchain integration scheme, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) partnered with Singapore Exchange (SGX), along with Anquan, Deloitte and Nasdaq to deliver the enhancements. Together, the parties will create “Delivery versus Payment (DvP) capabilities for settlement of tokenized assets across different blockchain platforms,” with the latter three acting as technical partners. “This initiative will deploy blockchain technology to efficiently link up funds transfer and securities transfer, eliminating both buyers’ and sellers’ risk in the DvP process,” Tinku Gupta, head of technology at SGX and leading the project explained. MAS has continued to make positive steps to creating a cryptocurrency-friendly jurisdiction in Singapore, expressing cautious optimism about the technology’s future while championing blockchain via Project Ubin, which it has worked on since 2016.
The commissioner of Japan’s financial regulator the Financial Services Agency (FSA) said that the agency wants the cryptocurrency industry to “grow under appropriate regulation,” in an interview with Reuters.
Toshihide Endo, commissioner of Japan’s FSA, told Reuters he sees the agency’s goal for developing the crypto industry as finding a “balance” between consumer protection and technological innovation. The commissioner added: “We have no intention to curb the crypto industry excessively. We would like to see it grow under appropriate regulation.”
In July, the FSA had been considering changing the legal basis for regulating crypto exchanges to oversight by the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act (FIEA), instead of its current legal foundation, the Payment Services Act.
Lawmakers in South Korea began discussing cryptocurrency once more in a meeting focusing on ending the country’s ICO ban, as well as other topics.Coming amid considerable attention on both cryptocurrency and blockchain propagation from Seoul, the National Assembly meeting saw participation from government ministries including the Ministry of Science and Information and Communications Technology (ICT). In addition to debating reallowing initial coin offerings (ICOs) to operate in the country, the parties involved are also keen to press ahead with the creation of South Korea’s own ‘Blockchain island.’ Centered on the Jeju Island resort, plans for a “special zone for global blockchain and cryptocurrencies” echo the trajectory adopted by Malta in recent months. “The South Korean government prohibited all types of ICO in September last year and has come up with no related policy since then,” the source said, adding that “the entire industry is paying much attention to how its stance will change through various discussions in the National Assembly.”
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has announced that he plans to get “involved” in a blockchain project.At the ChainXchange conference, Steve Wozniak revealed in an interview that he plans to participate in a blockchain startup, praising the benefits of the technology. He said: “I’m involved with, very soon, my first time being involved in a blockchain company. <…> Our approach is not like a new currency, or something phony where an event will make it go up in value. It’s a share of stock, in a company. This company is doing investment by investors with huge track records in good investments in things like apartment buildings in Dubai.” Wozniak also compared the Ethereum (ETH) platform with the Apple’s App Store, as both allow thousands of companies and individuals to develop and run their own applications: “Ethereum provides the tools for a blockchain application of your own… I see more people using Ethereum that way.” Earlier this spring, Wozniak had called blockchain tech a “bubble”, even though it is “decentralized and totally trustworthy”.