The big story of the week, in Asia and beyond, has undoubtedly been Bitcoin’s rise from the digital ashes to gain 20% in a single day.
Bitcoin, which has spent more than four months lulling below US$4,000, exploded on Tuesday this week when it skyrocketed over $800 in a couple of hours during Asian trading. Industry observers have looked at an anonymous single transaction said to be worth more than $100 million as the catalyst to the computer-driven trading surge, which continued into the following day.
Asian exchanges dominated the run, with Hong Kong-headquartered OKEx taking the top trading spot with a reported daily volume of $3.4 billion. Binance came in a close second with $3 billion traded per day. These are levels that have not been seen since the crypto peak at the end of 2017.
Last weekend it was reported that one of South Korea’s largest exchanges, Bithumb, was hacked to the tune of $18 million. An announcement made by the company revealed it was an inside job that resulted in the embezzlement of the digital funds. An estimated 3 million EOS tokens were stolen in the heist, which is the third in as many years for the Korean exchange.
Reports emerged early this week that one of Thailand’s richest families had purchased crypto payments platform Omise. The Bangkok Post picked up the story after a posting on industry site The Block claimed that acquisition by Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group) was worth an estimated $150 million.
The OmiseGO network token (OMG) is one of the top 30 digital currencies by market capitalization and the company has partnered with several banks and fintech startups in the region. Omise subsequently tweeted that it had not been acquired by CP and the report was in fact “fake news.” The Block and others are sticking to their story.
The Omise token, like most in the sector, has been massively down in price in recent months but the team continues to soldier on with the project and recently published an updated roadmap for the way forward.
In Russia, leading social networking platform VKontakte (VK) is reportedly developing its own crypto-currency. Local media outlet RNS reported that the internet giant is aiming to introduce its digital currency to an estimated 100 million active monthly users. According to sources familiar with the company, the initial plan is to open a crypto account for each of the platform’s users. This will enable them to monetize content, reward liked posts and accumulate the new tokens which can be used to pay for goods via VK Pay, the firm’s own payment system that launched last year. A final decision on the launch has yet to be made.
China continues to forge ahead with its blockchain ambitions while maintaining its blockade on crypto assets. Chinese English-language news daily China.org.cn, citing stats from Beijing data service provider Blockdata, claimed there are 263 blockchain-related projects in the country, which account for 25% of the global total. The financial sector is the largest user of distributed ledger technology, according to the report, though it extends into applications in other industries also.
Singapore’s largest e-commerce company, Qoo10, has announced grand plans to battle rivals Alibaba and Tencent by using blockchain technology. The firm launched a new blockchain-powered marketplace called QuuBe in January, which it aims to cut costs and improve operational efficiency. There will also be a new digital payments platform using dollar-pegged ‘Q coins’ for the online shopping website. Founder Ku Young Bae has plans to expand Qoo10 into Australia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam this year but will face stiff competition from Lazada, Shopee and Amazon.