Bitcoin cooled off a little this week after reaching a new 2019 high of US$8,900 on Monday. The king of crypto has since held on to most of its gains and is up over 100% in only two months. Total digital asset market capitalization has also reached a 10-month high of $280 billion as altcoins start to see a resurgence.
The oddest story from this week involved an “altcoin” that rose in price more than 100% in a single day. An offshoot of the original Bitcoin code, Bitcoin SV (BSV) was created late last year amid a lot of bickering between rival clans of the crypto community. The founder, Australian computer scientist Craig Wright, has repeatedly claimed he is the creator of the original Bitcoin, otherwise known by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto.
This has never been proven but scammers impersonating a Chinese news outlet posted a fake announcement on Chinese social media alleging that Wright had moved a chunk of currency from the original Satoshi Bitcoin account to one on the Binance exchange – which, by the way, had previously delisted the coin.
A wave of speculation soon swept across Asian exchanges as traders loaded up on BSV, sending its price skyrocketing on Thursday. It soon became clear, however, that this was based on nothing more than a crude attempt at price manipulation by the scammers.
Meanwhile, in Russia, blockchain ambitions continue to expand as the state of Nizhny Novgorod begins testing an ‘City N’ application for public administration tasks. According to reports in local media, residents will be able to file their taxes on the blockchain-based Vostok platform using the City N app. Other services on the blockchain will include identity verification and state budget expenses tracking. The 2020 federal budget will include a budget to launch a pilot of the platform in other regions.
Blockchain seems to be moving in the UAE too, as the real estate arm of the Executive Council of Dubai has partnered with UAE-based Mashreq Bank to launch a blockchain-based mortgage platform. A local media report wrote that the platform will act as a repository for mortgage records and will also confirm that mortgages comply with registration policies. Ongoing updates such as recording liquidation and payment defaults, or changes to the mortgages, will be included in the system.
The Dubai Land Department is also aiming to streamline its property services by switching to blockchain-based data management. Last year this government agency launched the Real Estate Self Transaction system, which is designed to digitize documents for paper transactions and streamline the brokerage process.
Egyptian authorities appear to be loosening their grip on digital asset trading, according to local media. Under Islamic law, all cryptocurrencies had been previously banned outright but a new bill will reportedly allow the creation, trading or promotion of crypto under license. As neighboring nations open the digital doors widers, Egypt, it seems, does not want to get left behind, it appears. Citing an official source at the Central Bank of Egypt, the media report added that the draft bill grants the bank’s board of directors the right to issue rules governing the trading and dealing of digital currency.
South Korean regulators seem to be getting jittery in the wake of the recent crypto market resurgence, which has seen markets gain more than 120% since the beginning of the year. According to Coindesk Korea, the government has held an emergency meeting over the perceived risk of losses for investors and traders.
Participants included the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Ministry of Justice and Korea’s top financial watchdog, the Financial Supervisory Commission. Many politicians still maintain that crypto is not a legal currency in Korea yet the nation hosts some of the world’s largest digital asset exchanges and makes up a huge portion of global digital asset-based trade. The crux of the situation though appears to be the same as always. The government wants to keep a close eye out for illegal activities and money laundering and keep all crypto trade within regulated investor protection parameters.
Yahoo Japan says it is about to dip its toes into the world of crypto trading with the launch of its new platform, Taotao. In early 2018 Yahoo Japan’s foreign exchange platform, YJFX, acquired a 40% share in Taotao, which was then known as BitARG. According to the platform’s official Twitter page, the exchange was set to go live on May 30. Yahoo Japan is a collaboration between the American parent company and Japanese holding company SoftBank and is reportedly the largest internet provider and payments processor in Japan with a domestic reach greater than Google’s. The exchange has reportedly already secured its crypto trading license with the Financial Services Agency but will initially open to Japan-based clients only.