SBI eSports Signs Pro FIFA and Super Smash Bros Ultimate Players; Will Be Paid in XRP

SBI eSports, a subsidiary gaming venture of Japanese financial giant SBI Holdings, has signed two professional players to its e-team. In an official announcement made on 16th October, the SBI e-sports subsidiary also revealed that they would be paying its player’s salaries in XRP.

Back in September, the firm revealed that they were planning on paying their player’s salaries in cryptocurrencies. The official announcement read,

“The company aims to raise awareness of the SBI Group by strengthening contact points with the digital generation, and to create synergies with the various financial services businesses of the SBI Group.”

The payment of salary in the digital token would be facilitated via SBI’s crypto-asset trading division called SBI VC Trade. However, the final decision to accept salaries in XRP tokens would lie in the players’ hands. The official signing read,

“Players will be paid in the crypto asset ‘XRP’ instead of Japanese yen based on the wishes of the player and the sponsorship contract with SBI VC Trade Co., Ltd.”

The two pro players signed by the SBI eSports include one of Japan’s top pros in the Nintendo Switch fighting game, Super Smash Bros, Ultimate player Kenji “Ken” Suzuki, and FIFA 21 player Subaru “Mikey” Sagano, who has represented the German soccer club 1. FC Nürnberg.

The signings made by the SBI e-Sports is one of a kind because of the digital asset salary clause, which was not only highlighted in the official announcement but also in the personal tweets made by the signed players.

SBI to Conduct a Security Token Offering for SBI eSports

The SBI Group is also set to conduct a security token offering for the eSports subsidiary expected to occur on October 30. The offering would see 1000 total shares up for grabs valued at 50,000 yen (about $475) per share.

SBI Group is a Ripple partner and one of the significant stakeholders in the digital asset firm.

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Author: James W

SBI Holdings Buys Japanese Crypto Exchange, TaoTao, Just Days After Binance Deal Failed

  • SBI Holdings announces the acquisition of Japanese crypto exchange, TaoTao Inc.
  • TaoTao announced on Monday that an agreement with Binance had failed.

In an announcement on Wednesday, TaoTao Inc., a Japanese based crypto exchange funded by Z Holdings (formerly Yahoo! Finance), was wholly acquired by the Japanese conglomerate, SBI Holdings. The conglomerate is celebrating its second licensed cryptocurrency exchange, as it aims to dive deeper into digital currencies.

According to the statement, SBI Holding’s derivatives and foreign exchange wing, SBI Liquidity Market, acquired 100% of the issued shares on TaoTao, the latter becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of SBI Holdings.

“We are pleased to inform you that we have decided to become a wholly-owned subsidiary of SBILM,” TaoTao statement.

The Japanese based Financial Service Authority (FSA)-licensed exchange joins SBI VC Trade, SBI’s crypto-focused venture capital arm, as the second licensed exchange owned by SBI Holdings. Both entities will provide crypto trading services to customers across Japan and build on the crypto ecosystem experience.

Following the acquisition, TaoTao aims at maximizing the strengths provided by SBI Group to provide customers with “the latest, safe and secure crypto asset trading services,” the statement further reads.

While no official reports have been released on the deal’s value, sources close to TaoTao claim the total fee could rise to 2 billion Japanese yen, or approximately $19 million.

Binance deal with TaoTao fails.

The news comes barely 48 hours after the Japanese crypto exchange announced that the Binance deal to acquire it had failed. According to the report, the world’s largest crypto exchange was in discussions to buy TaoTao, but the deal fell through with no explanation offered.

Following the failed partnership, it is unlikely that Binance will revive its services to Japan residents this year after abandoning its services due to tough regulations from the FSA.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Leading Japanese Messaging App, LINE, Launches Crypto Lending Services on BITMAX Exchange

LINE, the Japanese messaging app giant, is launching crypto lending services for its clients through its subsidiary crypto exchange, BITMAX. The news, which was first reported by CoinDesk Japan, highlighted that BITMAX users will be now be permitted the option of lending their crypto holdings to the exchange service, with BTC, XRP, ETH, BCH, or LTC as the underlying collaterals.

This service is set to function similarly to bank loans; only instead of interest, the lenders will receive a ‘rental fee.’ LINE filed a statement with the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Oct 9, noting the firm will be running a campaign up to Oct 30, where users could earn as much as a 10% rental fee for lending their digital assets. This should start accruing from the day the rental is deposited.

With LINE’s 80 million local outreach, the new lending services become bullish to the Japanese crypto market. The country which has had historically low-interest rates will probably benefit from the exposure in crypto volatility, although at the cost of accommodating the high risk.

LINE made it’s crypto debut onto the Japanese market last year after being granted an operational license by the country’s Financial Services Agency (FSA). They recently launched a blockchain development platform and digital wallet as part of scaling LINE’s crypto services footprint.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

SBI Holding’s eSports Subsidiary to Pay Gamers in Ripple’s XRP In Sponsorship Deal with VC Trade

  • A Japanese firm to pay its e-sports players in XRP.
  • This aims to target the digitally-focused individuals in the e-sports industry.

SBI e-sports, a subsidiary to Japanese conglomerate SBI Group, announced a strategic partnership with the group’s venture capital wing, SBI VC Trade Co., Ltd. The partnership will set in a new digital-focused mindset to the e-sports wing, with SBI eSport’s players set to be paid annual salaries in the fourth largest digital asset, XRP.

This is a voluntary option to players who wish to enter into the cryptocurrency ecosystem; the statement read:

“Through this partnership, if a player belonging to ‘SBI e-Sports’ wishes to do so, the annual salary will be paid by the crypto asset ‘XRP’”

SBI Group Holdings is a partner with XRP’s top custodian, Ripple, and takes significant steps in the crypto and blockchain scene. Its venture capital wing deals with digital assets and exchanges to provide a reliable, safe, and secure platform to transact and store assets to their institutional and retail investors.

The addition of XRP to its eSports wing aims to diversify its holdings and provide a gateway for digital asset users. VC Trade statement on the partnership reads,

“We aim to create and nurture a healthy market based on customer-centricity, improve prices, expand liquidity, etc.”

SBI Holdings entered the gaming scene with its eSports platform. Ripple also has had previous ties in the gaming industry. In March 2019, BEG reported Ripple For Developers, a group leading development on Ripple, announced a $100 million fund for Forte developers, a blockchain-based gaming platform.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Hacked Japanese Exchange Files Lawsuit, Claiming Binance Allowed $9.4M to be Laundered

Japanese crypto exchange, Fisco, files a lawsuit against the largest crypto exchange, Binance, for allegedly helping hackers launder over $9 million in stolen funds from the former exchange in 2018. The lawsuit, filed in the Northern California District Court, claims the exchange “intentionally or negligently” refused to stop the money laundering process even after Fisco (named Zaif at the time) informed them.

The filed lawsuit further claims Binance should cover the costs and damages caused by their negligence. The case is filed in California due to Binance using Amazon Web Service (AWS) servers and part of its digital assets being held by California-based custodians such as Coinbase and BitGo.

The Fisco-Binance Fiasco

In September 2018, Zaif crypto exchange, rebranded to Fisco after Fisco Cryptocurrency Exchange (FCCE) purchased it for $44 million, announced a hack on its hot wallets that saw the attackers make away with over $60 million in users funds. The exchange reported 5,966 BTC alongside a substantial amount of Monacoin (MONA), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) was stolen during the hack.

While the exchange has restructured, repaying users who lost their funds, and reported the matter to authorities, the hack has opened up once again. This time Fisco has filed a lawsuit against Binance claiming a fraction of the funds stolen from the hack, about $9.4 million, were traced to the largest crypto exchange.

The lawsuit claims that Binance’s “lax KYC/AML regulations did not measure up to industry standards.” The exchange allowed new unverified accounts to transact and withdraw up to 2 BTC with no KYC compliance, which Fisco claims helped the hackers launder the 1,451 BTC sent to the exchange. The lawsuit reads,

“The thieves laundered the stolen funds through Binance by taking advantage of Binance’s policy that allowed new users to open accounts and transact on the exchange in amounts below 2 Bitcoin without providing any meaningful identification or KYC information.”

Fisco further claims it told the Binance management team on the ongoing heist highlighting the Binance addresses that had received the stolen cryptocurrency. Despite the warning, Binance did not take any action to stop the hackers.

“Binance, either intentionally or negligently, failed to interrupt the money laundering process when it could have done so.”

The Japan-based exchange is heading to court to seek compensation from Binance on the losses suffered and costs incurred to recover the amount. This will provide a clear case on the KYC compliance regulations set forward by the global regulator, FATF, known as the Travel Rule.

Japan-Malta companies court fight in California?

Zaif decided to file the case in Northern California due to several factors. First, over $40 million of the stolen funds from the exchange users’ wallets belonged to U.S and California residents. However, the exchange did not only select California due to the users residing in the area but also due to some of Binance’s “key business components” being located in the West coast state. The lawsuit states that Binance relies on Amazon Web Services (AWS) for hosting purposes – AWS is registered in California:

“Upon information and belief, a significant portion if not all of the AWS servers Binance relies on for its operations are located in the State of California.”

Moreover, Fisco claims a significant portion of Binance’s offline hardware wallets custodial services are offered by crypto firms located in California. Focusing on Swipe, a payments firm recently acquired by Binance, Fisco lawsuit stated:

“Binance admits that Swipe uses Coinbase and Bitgo, both of which are located in the San Francisco Bay Area, to custody the cryptocurrency used in Swipe’s business.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

Kraken Returns to Japan; Subsidiary Payward Asia Granted Crypto Exchange Permit

Kraken crypto exchange is making a return into the Japanese market, two years after it exited this space owing to regulatory hurdles at the time. According to the firm’s announcement on September 8, Kraken’s crypto trading services will now be offered again to Japanese clients through its local subsidiary, Payward Asia Ltd.

This progress follows the approval of Payward Asia to operate a crypto exchange under Japan’s Payments Services Act. Notably, this entity is also part of Japan’s crypto self-regulatory Association; Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association (JVCEA). With this regulatory foundation, Kraken stated that it is now confident of its re-opening business in the booming Japanese crypto market. The announcement reads,

“Kraken feels 2020 is the best year to restart the business in Japan because of the healthy market environment among other reasons.”

The exchange has scheduled mid-September as the target launch date with five crypto assets set to feature initially; Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and XRP. Consequently, prospective Japanese users have been guided to open new accounts with Payward Asia Inc. so as to be able to leverage its crypto-crypto and JPY-crypto trading services. This includes previous users of Payward Japan K.K as the exchange noted there will be no transfer functions.

Kraken’s re-entry into Japan comes barely two months since it was licensed by U.K’s financial watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), to offer Crypto Facilities which are basically ‘Kraken Futures’. This milestone gave exposure to sophisticated institutional investors in Europe who previously could not access licensed crypto derivative markets. Jesse Powell, the exchange’s co-founder and CEO, was particularly enthusiastic about the move,

“This particular license means that a sophisticated class of investors, limited by their own requirements to interface with a regulated venue such as an MTF, will now have access to crypto derivatives in Europe for the first time. More participants means more liquidity and a better experience for everyone.”

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Author: AnTy

G20 Set to Accept Digital Currencies; Green Lights Policy Changes for Regulatory Framework

The G20 members are set to accept digital payments as soon as November 2020, according to the Japanese media outlet, Kyodo News. This shift in attitude towards crypto assets coincides with increasing interest by oversight bodies.

Last year, the G20 was skeptical on digital assets’ ability to impact current financial ecosystems, this now seems to have changed as the members prepare for the annual summit to be held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Kyodo News detailed that the change in tact towards crypto ecosystems has been influenced by Facebook’s Libra proposal and China’s digital yuan. These two projects hit the crypto scene with a bang, fueling discussions across the board.

While China’s digital yuan is at its sunrise phase, Libra is still facing regulatory challenges. Nonetheless, the G20, which comprises 20 members, including the EU, has seen it fit to lay a framework for digital assets as well.

The changes in policy are scheduled to take effect as of October, just before the G20 annual summit. Discussions will revolve around digital currency use, money-laundering risks, and the challenges of using crypto as a form of payment. With such groundwork in place, G20 is optimistic about spreading the risk attributed to stablecoins as per an October 2019 report.

Global Progress in Digital Asset Frameworks

China continues to lead the way in CBDC progress, having recently piloted a digital yuan. The Asian superpower is now looking to integrate this PBoC backed digital currency with its existing financial ecosystem. Going by China’s active use of mobile payments via Alipay and WeChat, stakeholders are optimistic about a seamless integration in a move that will enhance the CCP oversight in digital payment networks.

The EU has made some fundamental progress in this field, especially in regulation. Currently, crypto-oriented businesses operating within its jurisdiction have to comply with the 5AMLD, which came into play earlier this year.

However, this framework has not been very friendly to all crypto-based entities as some had to relocate shops in search of more accommodating digital asset laws. Finally, the U.S, which has long been skeptical, are also looking into digital assets. CFTC Chairman, Heath Tarbert, recently said that they are waiting on the SEC guidance to go ahead with listing more crypto derivatives in the U.S market.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Targeting Institutional Investors: SBI Holdings Is Buying a Minority Stake in B2C2 Exchange

A unit of Japanese financial conglomerate SBI Holdings, SBI Financial Services is buying a minority stake in London-based crypto market maker B2C2 for $30 million.

This is yet another example of situational-focused crypto players tying up with the incumbent institutions to offer additional services to their clients. Meanwhile, SBI will be getting a new source of revenue, “as a recession has hit their core income stream of local retail traders,” said Reuters.

B2C2 will be the leading liquidity provider of SBI as the latter expands its crypto offerings to millions of its existing customers. On the other hand, the digital asset trading firm will benefit from SBI’s distribution network and financial firepower.

SBI’s balance sheet will complement B2C2’s asset-liability framework “to deliver an execution platform that will not only be a game-changer in crypto but also positions us to expand across asset classes as we set our sights on the $20bn-a-year prime brokerage market,” said Max Boonen, founder of B2C2.

On-Ramp for Institutional Investment

In 2016, B2C2 launched the first crypto-native single dealer platform. Currently, it provides liquidity to banks, exchanges, and hedge funds.

The platform already has a license to operate in Japan, and last year, the firm launched the first OTC streaming price feed and is authorized and regulated by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority.

SBI meanwhile is launching a fully automated facility, an electronic prime brokerage built upon its single dealer platform, to provide competitive two-way prices in the funding market. This capability will expand B2C2’s existing secured financing operation, already lending hundreds of millions of dollars.

“We expect a lot of synergies with B2C2, a firm which has a large number of clients globally and offers abundant liquidity, excellent price competitiveness, and a diverse suite of products for their customers,” said Yoshitaka Kitao, President and CEO of SBI Holdings.

“We will work to develop innovative new crypto products and deepen synergies across our group of companies.”

Competition is Heating Up

Prime brokers provide services to hedge funds and active trading firms, which is a growing trend in the crypto industry.

Earlier this month, Bakkt partnered up with Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital to launch a “white-glove service” for “multi-billion-dollar” asset managers looking to buy and store bitcoin.

Last month, Genesis Capital acquired the London-based custodian, Volt, to join the likes of identity Digital Assets and BitGo and build the “preeminent prime brokerage in the digital currency ecosystem.”

A week after that, Coinbase announced that it is looking to acquire Tagomi, a crypto prime brokerage platform. The deal, however, hasn’t been closed yet and is subject to regulatory approvals.

The crypto industry is fast building the infrastructure for the institutional investors who are currently driving the bitcoin market.

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Author: AnTy

Japan’s Financial Services Giant, Tokai Tokyo, to Launch A Tokenized Securities Exchange

Japanese financial giant, Tokai Tokyo Financial Holdings, announced its partnership with digital asset firm Hash Dash, to build its securities token exchange. The company also owns the Tokai Tokyo Securities Exchange and is invested 500 million yen (~$4.7 million) in Huobi, Japan.

Tokenization of assets is picking up steam as more traditional financial institutions enter the industry, Tokai Tokyo’s exchange becoming the latest to venture the field.

According to a statement to Nikkei, the exchange will tokenize securities, starting with Japan’s real estate industry, then trade these digital assets on iSTOX, its subsidiary digital security exchange in Singapore.

The $64 billion Tokyo based firm raised $5 million in a round also participated by Thai’s, Kiatnakin Phatra Financial Group (KKP) back in November 2019 to build iSTOX. The digital securities exchange aim is to assist Japan-based firms seamlessly to raise capital through the exchange.

Hash Dash will be the brains behind the exchange sharing their expertise on tokenized security exchanges. The company will leverage blockchain technologies to ensure the security of funds and the transfer of assets to reduce costs.

The securities exchange started its operations earlier this year, opening a gateway to Japan’s private capital markets. The statement further states the company is exploring digitizing IPs and corporate bonds.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Japan’s Top Banks Join Crypto Exchange-Led ‘Study Group’ to Discuss Digital Payment System

  • Three Japanese banking industry heavyweights are joining arms in a study group to focus on digital payment settlement networks in the country.
  • The study group is led by local cryptocurrency exchange, DeCurret Inc., giving possible hints of a crypto integration.

Top Japanese banking institutions, Mizuho Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), alongside experts and industry leaders in Japan joined a study group to look into digital payment systems.

The group will meet once or twice a month from June to September this year chaired by former head of the Payments and Settlement systems, Bank of Japan (BoJ) and current director at Future Corporation, Mr. Hiromi Yamaoka.

DeCurrent Inc., released a statement dated June 3, 2020 outlining the key agendas of the meetings including digital payment systems, application of distributed ledger systems in the economy and digital currency settlement platforms within Japan.

The wide scale penetration of digital payment services and blockchain in Japan is remarkable. Ripple Inc.’s partnership with SBI Holdings has seen a number of big banks take on blockchain development including Fukushima Bank and SFMG. The study aims at coming up with a standardized version of these systems and blockchain infrastructure. The statement further noted,

“The purpose of this study group is to examine and discuss challenges and solutions concerning digital currencies and digital settlement infrastructure, to find a consensus toward their realization, and to present a direction for standardizing services and infrastructure.”

Other top firms that will join the group include the East Japan Railway Corporation, KDDI Corporation and Mori Hamada & Matsumoto in Tokyo. Japan based blockchain firm, Accenture Japan Ltd. and SIGMAXYZ Inc. will act as cooperating companies.

The study, once published, will be sent to the observant teams from the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Trade, Economy and Industry, the Financial Service Authority (FSA) and the Bank of Japan.

DeCurret launched operations back in 2018 gaining approval to launch in Japan, and in March the following year, from the FSA. The license allows the exchange to carry out digital payment services and trading in the country.

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Author: Lujan Odera