Crypto asset markets have continued to consolidate this week following a brief correction over the weekend. Bitcoin failed to break through the $8,000 level for any real length of time, which left other digital assets in a state of limbo for the best part of the week. A delayed decision by the US SEC on high-profile crypto ETF, announced earlier in the week, did not have any significant impact on markets although they had started to retreat by Friday. In late Asian trading, Bitcoin sat at approximately $7,945, down from the week’s high of about $8,200.
One of the bigger stories of the week involved Craig Wright, the Australian computer scientist who has made several public claims to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of Bitcoin. An announcement by a website supporting his forked version of Bitcoin, Bitcoin SV (BSV), stated that Wright has been granted US copyright registrations for the original Bitcoin white paper and also for most of the original Bitcoin code. The crypto community reacted strongly to this, but that did not prevent BSV surging on the day by a whopping 125%. In a later memo the Copyright Office admitted it had not investigated whether there is a provable connection between the claimant and the pseudonymous author.
In the PRC, a research institute established by the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) is looking to fill a number of blockchain-related positions, according to local media reports. Three listings were published by a local recruitment website, as the Shenzhen Fintech Research Institute seeks to expand its blockchain division. The PBoC has big ambitions for blockchain, and also possibly a digital Yuan, but still remains vehemently against any form of public digital currency.
Blockchain is very much a hot topic in China with one of its largest retailers, JD.com, reportedly applying for over 200 related tech patents. A report by the Securities Daily added that major e-commerce competitor Alibaba has applied for 262 blockchain patents, while Chinese internet giants Tencent and Baidu have applied for 80 and 50 such patents respectively. Data provided by the China Information and Communication’s Intellectual Property Center said that JD.com was the leader for “global blockchain patent strength” and China was the global forerunner in blockchain patent applications.
Still in China, Sa Xiao, a council member at the Bank of China Law Research Association, dissected China’s draconian digital asset laws to claim that current regulations include the right to trade virtual property as the owner sees fit. Chinese crypto news resource, cnLedger, summarized the original report on local outlet BJNews. Many have attributed the current surge in Bitcoin’s prices to Chinese over the counter trading as US President Trump continues to talk up a trade war. There has been no official response from Beijing, which is publicly still very anti-crypto.
Japan is clamping down on money laundering and cryptocurrency has become one of the targets. According to the Nikkei Asian Review, the Financial Services Agency is ramping up its anti-money laundering (AML) regulations and taking a deeper look into crypto exchanges. In particular, any exchanges that offer anonymous transactions or have weak identity verification practices will come under the microscope. The move comes in preparation for an inspection by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) later this year. Centralized exchanges have come under scrutiny in the wake of several high profile hacks over the past couple of years.
Elsewhere in the region, many governments remain far less lenient towards crypto assets and Laos is following China’s lead with an outright ban on cryptocurrencies. According to local media, the Bank of Lao PDR has issued a warning to commercial banks, businesses, and citizens not to dabble in digital currencies. The central bank has been alerted to the promotion of Bitcoin and other cryptos via local social media sites. As in India, Lao banks are not permitted to have anything to do with crypto exchanges or services, which means peer-to-peer trading is the only viable option for Laotians wanting to invest in digital assets.