A new SIngapore-based blockchain platform aims to help Asia's 'unbanked'. Photo: iStock / Nasa
The Saudi-Emirati pilot crypto-currency will reportedly be targeted towards banks in order to facilitate cross border transfers. Photo: iStock

Asia-focused ‘unbanked’ blockchain initiative launched: Applying for a bank account has a myriad of requirements nowadays, which has led to an increasing number of “unbanked” people, particularly in Asia where credit reports are not often available. That’s why a group of Xiaomi and Amazon alumni has formed the Singapore-based company Points. The company raised $8 million in seed funding earlier this year and backers include Danhua Capital, Ceyuan Ventures and Zhong Cheng Xin Credit Technology, China’s first nationwide credit rating agency. The blockchain-powered platform uses AI and big data to assess factors like occupation, payments, and shopping to calculate a credit score for Chinese consumers. The concept has also been trialed in Papua New Guinea.

Blockchain phone for Samsung? HTC’s much delayed Exodus1 blockchain phone could have competition. Reports say Samsung is throwing its hat in the ring with a cryptocurrency phone after the South Korea giant filed patents that supposedly reveal cryptocurrency plans for its Galaxy range of devices. Industry speculation is that Samsung will provide new Galaxy devices with a “cold wallet” that has storage facilities for cryptocurrencies.

Money laundering rife in crypto: A new report from fintech fraud and money laundering analyst CipherTrace says that 97% of all direct bitcoin payments from criminals have come from unregulated cryptocurrency exchanges and that 380,155 bitcoins were received by exchanges from criminal sources between January 9, 2009 and September 20, 2018. The report unsurprisingly indicates that the occurrence of money laundering is directly correlated to countries with “lax or lacking” AML regulations. CipherTrace’s Q3 edition of its regular cryptocurrency Anti Money Laundering Report says “essentially, criminals are flowing large amounts of dirty bitcoin into these poorly regulated exchanges and other services – such as mixers – [to turn them] into “clean” cryptocurrencies. Then, they can move funds into the global financial payments system with little risk of being detected.” CipherTrace says in the first three quarters of 2018, $927 million of cryptocurrency was stolen by hackers and, since the Q2 report, CipherTrace has recorded crypto thefts of $166 million.

And now there’s a Cockney crypto cabbie: Next time you are in the UK capital and riding in one of its famous black taxis, apart from the London driver’s infamous Cockney patter, you might also be able to buy some Bitcoin. While London cabbies have to pass a famously tough exam, known as “The Knowledge” before getting their license, one driver is imparting a different type of knowledge to his customers. Dave Jenkins, aka “the crypto cabbie”, sells Bitcoin from the back of his car via a touchscreen device. So is that turn left at Ethereum, please?