For the first time the US Treasury Department says digital currency identifiers are being used to flag anyone on its sanctions blacklist. Photo: IStock

Iranian entity targeted by US sanctions on Bitcoin: Iran has been developing its blockchain and crypto capabilities as a buffer against American trade sanctions. But now, for the first time, the US Treasury Department says digital currency identifiers are being used to flag anyone on its sanctions blacklist and it is providing guidance on how crypto traders can comply with its blocking regulations. The move follows a US Justice Department action against an Iranian hacking cell allegedly running an alleged multimillion-dollar ransomware scheme.

Singapore’s Huobi diversifies in New York: The Huobi Derivative Market launched in New York this week to trade on rising and falling prices and with tools for hedging risk. Huobi moved its headquarters from China to Singapore in May to escape Beijing’s crypto clampdown, despite setting up a Chinese Communist Party branch in one of its offices in China. The product is not available in Cuba, Iran and North Korea, and the more mainstream markets of Hong Kong, Singapore and, ironically, the country of its launch, the US.

Taiwan tightens crypto regulations: 
Taiwan has tightened anti-money-laundering policies to target crypto exchanges. The newly drafted Money Laundering Control Act and Terrorism Financing Prevention Act was approved by the government earlier in November and the country’s Financial Supervisory Commission now has authority over crypto exchanges to ban transactions suspected of being tied to fraudulent operations. All exchanges are now required to monitor and prevent any illegal transaction processed using digital assets.

Amazon unperturbed by bear run: Cryptos may be experiencing severe crashes and existential speculation about its future, but not so necessarily so for blockchain. Amazon has worked with Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum, to launch Amazon Managed Blockchain, a “fully managed scalable blockchain network solution”. Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy launched the product at the re:Invent conference in Las Vegas this week, and also rolled out the Amazon Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB) that supposedly is “immutable, cryptographically verifiable, transparent and fast.”

Making crypto environmentally friendly: One of the strongest criticisms levelled at digital currency mining is how much energy is consumed in the process. Some analysts reckon it takes double the expenditure of copper or gold. A solution could lie with “Green Energy Blockchain Mining”, a process of crypto mining on server farms that only use clean, renewable energy, along with other solutions that, commentators say, could be linked to small-scale decentralized energy grids.