Taiwan Grants Virtual Banking Licenses To Three Companies to Make a Push for Digital Banking

Taiwan Grants Virtual Banking Licenses To Three Companies to Make a Push for Digital Banking

Three companies have recently acquired virtual banking licenses from the government of Taiwan. This the first time that the government does this, as Taiwan is starting to follow other regulators in Asia which are on the move to regulate their markets properly.

The licenses have been awarded to Rakuten International Commercial Bank, LINE Financial Taiwan (a subsidiary of the LINE Group in the country) and the local operator Chunghwa Telecom. These are important groups, which include two Japanese companies (Rakuten and LINE) and one Taiwanese firm.

According to the reports, no more licenses will be issued to more companies so soon, so these three will be the only one with permission to act like virtual banks in Taiwan for some time. Initially, only two licenses were to be given, but each company had a pretty different business model, so the regulators decided to award each one of them with the license they wanted.

Fergus Gordon, the leader of Accenture’s Banking practice in Asia, affirmed that these new actors which are appearing in Taiwan are likely to be focused on specific markets such as microloans and SMEs. They want to be more efficient than traditional banks in these areas, which are not as popular with them, so they can carve their place in the market.

This event follows a trend that is happening in Asia right now. Several fintech companies are starting to challenge the local banks by offering innovative digital banking solution. This is increasing the competition in the area and starting to create a revolution in Asia.

Hong Kong gave out a total of eight virtual banking licenses to companies such as the Alibaba Group Holding and Standard Chartered while Singapore decided to give away five licenses.

Regulators from countries such as South Korea, Malaysia and Thailand are also considering to do the same, which shows just how the market has been evolving lately.

Digital banks are growing a lot in the region and the consultancy firm McKinsey affirms that if these banks continue to dominate the market, traditional banks may have a problem as their profitability will get considerably more low by 2023.

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Author: Gabriel Machado

New Studio Blockchain Accelerator by IDEO Gets Amazon, Fidelity, Deloitte and Messari Backing

New Studio Blockchain Accelerator by IDEO Gets Amazon, Fidelity, Deloitte and Messari Backing

IDEO CoLab has started an important partnership with over 20 companies in order to launch a blockchain accelerator startup. IDEO CoLab, which is a subsidiary of IDEO, has found companies such as Fidelity, Amazon, Deloitte, Messari, the Ethereum Foundation and the Stellar Foundation as important partners in this enterprise.

The accelerator will be called Startup Studio and it will have each of the current partners hosting their own accelerator programs in order to fund the development of new blockchain technology.

Ian Lee, the managing director of the company, has affirmed that these companies will provide smaller ones with all the tools that they need in order to start their own development. The idea is to finance initiatives that are aimed to give more control and ownership to the users over their own lives.

The blockchain currently promises to do it, however, it fails most of the time because most of the current programs are not really that useful for the average person, so the focus will be in creating programs that will be. By making these advancements on the technology, the CEO believes that opportunities of billions or even trillions of dollars can be found.

Each of the partners will be important because they will offer specific values to the accelerated companies. Amazon, for example, can help by providing resources that let the users determine how to build and deploy services using its Amazon Web Service platform. Deloitte, for instance, can help with accounting, taxes and structuring.

According to Lee, the idea is to create an accelerator that will work differently from the other companies in the market right now. Unlike the others, they will have quick workshops which are created in a way that the teams can learn fast what they need to do and go home to work. None of the workshops will have any cost, but they are only available to the participating companies.

The project will have residencies, too, which will range from three to six months and will see the teams accompanies by at least 20 people that will help them to create the best business possible.

IDEO is looking to create a sustainable model for blockchain development. The company is aware of the difficulties that people in this area often face and is ready to help them.

The company was created back in 2012 and it has partnerships with several large companies. Since then, it has been working in the technology field and collaborated with the development of several companies, as well as invested in 9 startups during this timeframe. The list includes popular ones such as Augur, Zcash, Grin and others.

Also, the company is interested in investing in around 12 new blockchain firms per year. This will increase the current portfolio quite fast.

So far, the CEO affirms that they found a sustainable way to support the startups when they need it the most and he believes that they will continue to follow this approach as time passes, which is set to deepen the relationship between them and these early companies.

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Author: Gabriel Machado

IBM Food Trust Welcomes Organo to Use The Blockchain To Trace Products


More and more companies are starting to use blockchain solutions in order to trace their own products with more control and efficacy. Organo is now the latest company to join IBM Food Trust, a blockchain initiative that was created in order to track food.

Organo, which is a leading producer in healthy and affordable food and beverages, was created back in 2008 and was generally focused on bringing quality to its clients, which is the main reason why the company is set on using the blockchain to ensure that quality now. The company also works in the industries of beauty products and botanical formulations as well as food.

IBM Food Trust, as you may well know, is one of the top companies in the food tracking industry. The company is specialized in using the blockchain technology in order to solve the problems of companies that want to track their products via all their supply chains.

With the solution offered by IBM, the company will start to track several of its products, starting by its most selling ones and scaling to achieve an even greater reach before the end of the year.

This new traceability strategy will help the company in order to select the key information that will be shared with the clients of the company and the supply partners. This will bring more transparency to the company, which is expected to convert in positive feedback from the clients.

By starting this partnership, Organo is set to improve its services, as affirmed by Leonard Chin, the managing director of the company. Chin affirmed that trust is a product ingredient for the company, so they believe that it is important to treat trust in the same way that all the other ingredients are being treated.

The new service will allow the customers to scan the products and to assure the quality by making inspections on the logistics and all the data that will be available using the new system, which will be called Vertical Markets EcoSystem Model.

The blockchain will be used as a way to store the information in a distributed ledger that is easily accessible to all customers. The company also hopes that will engage people in all the supply chain to work towards minimizing waste and improving the safety of the food, therefore optimizing the whole process of creating the products that will be sold later.

IBM Food Trust is created on top of the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain, an open-source protocol. While the model of the ledger is decentralized, the companies hiring IBM are generally able to determine who will have access to the information present on the blockchain.

Because of this, think of this as a private blockchain, not a public. The difference is that the clients are allowed to check the blockchain as well by using QR codes.

Raj Rao, the general manager of IBM Food Trust, affirmed that the blockchain has the potential to transform any industry, especially supply chains, so the goal of the company is to provide the technology that will make this possible.

He also affirmed that the technology will help Organo to deal with the major pain points of its business and that it will be used to optimize the whole supply chain.

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Author: Gabriel Machado

Fidelity International Will Soon Enter the Cryptocurrency Space with Digital Asset Trading Desk

Fidelity International Will Soon Enter the Cryptocurrency Space with Digital Asset Trading Desk
  • More companies in traditional finance sector are launching projects that connect them with the cryptocurrency industry.
  • Fidelity International exec Anne Richards discussed a crypto-based trading game within the company while at a conference.

With the increased popularity of the cryptocurrency market, it should come as no surprise that traditional finance companies are choosing sides. Fidelity Investments is one of the more innovative companies, as their subsidiary Fidelity International gets closer to entering the cryptocurrency space. According to reports from Ethereum World News and others, Fidelity Investments has already set up Fidelity Digital Assets, a custody operation.

Reports from Financial News indicate that someone close to this matter confirmed the company’s interest in blockchain technology. The same source added that the trading desk for the company is almost prepared to go live. The fact that the company has its own fantasy crypto trading game for staff at the international extension is proof enough that the fund manager is welcoming to cryptocurrency.

Players of this game have to build a crypto portfolio, starting with £10,000 in virtual money. To be eligible for cash prizes, the participants have to gain the biggest returns. Presently, there are already two-thirds of the 1,200-member staff at Fidelity International that have gotten involved.

This trading game was only recently publicized by chief executive Anne Richards at an industry conference last month. Richards stated,

“We have a bitcoin trading game that we use internally, as a way of teaching people about distributed ledger technology and digital tokenization, which ultimately will be an important part of the whole financial system going forward.”

Based on these comments, and if Facebook had anything to do with the recent surge in Bitcoin’s price, then Fidelity’s impact on Bitcoin’s price could show a similar effect.

Many institutions are starting to get involved in the cryptocurrency market, and specifically Bitcoin, which is why some experts believe that they were the key buyers on the sidelines during the crypto winter. With Fidelity’s work in their Digital Assets platform, they will be helping other institutions to get involved in the sector.

If Fidelity were to finally launch products or even just use distributed ledger technology, it would easily establish the brand as a leader in the fund management industry. There are still major legacy costs in this industry, and paper documentation is still maintained. Interoperability concerns are a big reason why the implementation of blockchain has been delayed for this long but choosing to get involved could easily be a big moment for the whole financial sector.

Furthermore, Fidelity’s actions could impact both retail and institutions, which could bring on the launch of mutual funds. However, as the SEC continues to shut down the idea of implementing an exchange-traded fund, these efforts could ultimately be thwarted.

Teana Baker-Taylor, the executive director with Global Digital Finance, spoke with Financial News about the plans that Fidelity International is involved in. Baker-Taylor said,

“This signals to the market that traditional financial investment in digital assets is likely to increase and they intend to maintain their institutional first-mover advantage, providing access to digital assets to their mutual fund and pension clients, as well as private and institutional investors.”

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Author: Krystle M

Georgia Court System Attacked By Ransomware as Demand for Bitcoin Increases in Cryptojacking Era


Ransomware is one of the most annoying cyber threats that companies and the public system have faced in this decade. After disrupting the government of Baltimore, a ransomware attack has made its next victim: the court system of Georgia.

Recently, the court officials of Georgia have received a letter that threatened to make the whole system go offline if the ransom was not paid.

Bruce Shaw, an official that worked in the system, told the media that the systems of the court were compromised by a ransomware system and that the team has not discovered yet how to solve the threat, but they decided to quarantine and shut down everything.

The main reason for doing that is because the court feared that the information of private cases might be leaked in case the system was not fully shut down. The officials were pretty fast in closing down the system, so they believe that they at least protected the information from any threat.

According to them, the main advantage of this approach is that it gives them a chance to fight back. They can be protected from hackers now and to create new barriers against possible attacks that can occur in the future.

Cryptojacking Took Ransomware’s Place

Ransomware is often seen in “waves”. For instance, a major wave happened between 2015 and 2016 and 2018 also featured some prominent attacks. However, no wave was as big as the one in 2015 until now.

One of the reasons why ransomware was not so prominent in the last couple of years was mostly because of cryptojacking took its place.

In case you are not familiar with the term, cryptojacking is to use someone’s computer in order to mine tokens with stolen computational power. As it is harder to detect than ransomware, which often is not paid and cause huge problems that attract the attention of the media, cryptojacking is pretty stealthy.

Ransomware is far from dead, however. The increase in the price of crypto may have made cryptojacking very attractive, but ransomware keeps to have some charm. Why is that? Because it is expensive not to pay up.

The last time the government of Atlanta was attacked by ransomware, they had to spend over $7 million USD in order to solve the issue. The ransom was just $100,000 USD.

Obviously, it is never a good idea to pay ransomware, but it is easy to understand how it can be very attractive to people who do not want to pay the costs of working around it.

Atlanta had no access to the city’s court system for months during the attack and several activities continued to be affected months after the attack happened. The social costs were very high.

The decision is pretty hard here. Either the government can pay and then it will be basically asking to be the victim of ransomware again or they could use methods which will spend a lot more money. Unfortunately, the only good way to solve this issue is to basically create technology that can be used in protection from this.

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Author: Gabriel Machado

Chinese Bitcoin Investors And Entrepreneurs Consider Regulations as Highly Important for Market Involvement

Chinese Bitcoin Investors And Entrepreneurs Consider Regulations as Highly Important for Market Involvement
  • Facebook has recently released the Libra crypto project and many companies are analyzing it
  • Other large tech firms would also like to work on similar projects under clear regulatory environments

Everyone is talking about Facebook’s new crypto project Libra and the influence that it can have on the market.

Pony Ma (Ma Huateng), the CEO of the multinational investment holding conglomerate Tencent, said that regulations are important for companies to release their own digital assets such as Facebook did. Changpeng Zhao, the CEO of Binance has also given his opinion about it.

China Needs Clear Regulations

The Twitter account @CnLedger, quoted Pony Ma, the founder of Tencent, commenting about Facebook’s Libra project. About it, he said that the technology is very mature and that it depends on whether or not the regulation allows to implement it.

This is very important, considering the Chinese government has taken very hard measures against Bitcoin traders. At the same time, there were some rumours spreading on the internet about the possibility to ban Bitcoin miners in the country.

Changpeng Zhao, the CEO of Binance, decided to comment about what Mr. Ma mentioned and the regulatory environment. Zhao said that countries should encourage their tech giants to issue their own cryptocurrency token.

He went on saying that Libra will increase US influence abroad and compared the effects that a cryptocurrency launched by Tencent or WeChat would have in the market. He has even asked what would have happened if these companies issued a token before Facebook.

Binance is one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the market in terms of trading volume. However, the company was not able to find a good place where to settle its operations. Now, the exchange is working with regulatory agencies in Bermuda, the Bahamas, Malta or Estonia.

At the moment, countries have to create proper regulations regarding virtual currencies and blockchain technology and how to deal with them. That means they must establish the rights and responsibilities of firms operating in the space and investors.

For example, in the coming weeks, Russia is expected to announce regulations for virtual currencies and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). The decision to do it now is related to the fact that the FATF is trying to implement global standard regulations for digital assets. However, Russia’s plans to introduce regulations to the crypto market have already several years.

Switzerland and Malta have also been working very hard in order to attract a large number of investors in the cryptocurrency market. Indeed, several firms located their operations in these jurisdictions, allowing them to have clear regulations and protect investors.

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Author: Carl T

Facebook Libra Cryptocurrency vs Kik KIN Digital Asset: A Look at Two Tokens Side by Side

  • Kik and Facebook seem to have similar interests
  • Both companies want to improve their revenue model

Facebook has recently released the Libra cryptocurrency, which aims at improving Facebook’s presence in the financial system. In order for users to use the new digital asset, they will have to install the wallet Calibra, which is expected to be released to the market in 2020. There have been several backers and partners behind the launch of this digital asset and project, including PayPal, MasterCard or Mercado Libre, among others. Now, there are several analysts trying to understand which are going to be the effects of this announcement in the crypto market and in the largest digital assets.

Facebook’s Libra Vs Kik’s Kin

There is another digital currency that was launched by another messaging application. Tech Crunch wrote an article in which they compare Kik’s Kin, which is also a social network. A short time ago, Kik was in the news due to a current U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lawsuit that targeted Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), and Kik ran one in 2017. According to the regulatory agency, Kik’s $100 million ICO was illegal because it was not registered with any agency.

At Creative Destruction Lab’s Super Session, Ted Livingston, the CEO of Kik, said that Kin was originally created to address the challenges that Kik had. Although Kik never achieved the scale of Facebook, it had moments of impressive success in terms of the number of users in the community. One of the main differences that this network has with Facebook is related to the fact that Kik never pursued an aggressive ads-based campaign.

The CEO of Kik explained that Kin made sense because it was an effective and easy way for people on the platform to exchange value. As per Darrell Etherington, the author of the article at Tech Crunch, the major difference between Facebook and Kik is the scale of their companies.

Kik needed a digital currency as soon as possible, this is why they’ve decided to start an Initial Coin Offering and gather funds. Meanwhile, Facebook was able to bring into their network collaborators that were able to work on the digital asset they released. They also have the possibility to keep expanding their business model through advertising.

As the author explains, both Kik and Facebook were searching for a new revenue model other than advertising, which could make their businesses much more sustainable and palatable to consumers.

Facebook will have to prove that their digital currency is able to fulfill the expectations that the market currently has. They might be able to help users around the world have access to financial services and allow them to transfer value as they send or receive a text message. Now it is just time to see which is the effect that Facebook’s Libra is going to have in the space.

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Author: Carl T

Whale Panda Calls Out Kin Foundation For Its “Defend Crypto” Movement as Others Chime In

Whale Panda Calls Out Kin Foundation For Its “Defend Crypto” Movement as Others Chime In

It is no secret to all that know the crypto world that some companies are struggling a lot to defend their businesses after they started to be chased by regulators. In the United States, a very important battle is being fought by several companies and the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

However, not all the companies battling the SEC in order to keep its products alive are being very well received by the community. For instance, the Kin Foundation, which is behind the Kik app, has started a movement in order to fight the SEC and “defend crypto”. This movement has been very criticized lately.

Kin, the crypto services created by Kik, had an unregistered Initial Coin Offering (ICO) back in 2017 in which the company was able to raise $100 million USD, quite a high amount. After that, the SEC went to the company to sue it for offering unregistered securities. While some have defended the company, Whale Panda, a very prominent crypto influencer called them out.

According to Whale Panda, these movements to “defend crypto” are not legitimate. The company did a very shady ICO which was obviously a security token and they got caught by the SEC. Since then, negotiations are not pretty. Now, he affirmed, the company is set to use other shady ICOs to pressure the SEC.

He also affirmed that the allegation of Ted Livingston that more people were using Kin than any other crypto in the world was actually fake and people made fun of the company’s defensor online after that.

An attorney named Josh Lawler also voiced his opinion today and affirmed that the SEC will end up losing the case even if they win. According to him, the SEC exists only to protect “main street” investors. If the SEC winds against Kik, they will hurt the investors that they are trying to protect in the first place.

Circle, however, tweeted announcing some vague support for the so-called movement. The company affirmed that it was with the Kin Foundation because they struggled to make cryptos flourish in the United States like many other companies in the industry.

Most of the personalities on Crypto Twitter were not so generous, though. Jeremy Rubin, Riccardo Spagni and others affirmed that they did not sympathize with the movement at all.

Rubin even tweeted a “hot take”, in which he affirmed that the whole “defend crypto” movement was very sickening because cryptos were not under attack, only shady business practices. Kin was probably a security token in his view, so it made sense that the SEC decided to reject it.

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Author: Gabriel M