The inevitable correction for Bitcoin and crypto markets started this week, as markets pulled back from their highest levels seen so far in 2019. Bitcoin dropped back below US$8,000 and continued to weaken as the week progressed. Following its epic 60% surge in May a correction was inevitable and even welcomed by many.
Banks in Japan are leading a consortium to mint their own digital currencies in order to facilitate international transactions. The current system, which largely uses an archaic protocol called SWIFT, is thought by many in the industry to be slow and expensive. The new project will involve digital utility settlement coins (USCs) pegged to the fiat equivalent in their own country. Asia Times reported this week that 14 banks in total have invested more than $60 million in the system, which is expected to go live next year.
The investment division of Seychelles-based HDR Global Trading, BitMEX Ventures, has backed one of the largest crypto exchanges in the Philippines. The Philippine Digital Asset Exchange (PDAX) says it aims to expand beyond its shores and this investment is aimed at allowing it to do so. BitMEX said its funding will help strengthen PDAX’s exchange platform to create a marketplace for all kinds of digital assets, that it says will include commodities, real estate equities and debt securities in tokenized form.
Earlier this year, BitMEX stood accused of banning American users because of fears of Washington regulatory crackdowns, but this latest move gives the platform access to a fully regulated crypto exchange as PDAX has Philippines regulatory approval via the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
Indian crypto hopes continue to dwindle as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second term begins. There is now no actual formal ban on Bitcoin in India, but the government and central bank have displayed a deep distrust of digital assets.
The previous Modi government has broadly followed Beijing’s stance of supporting blockchain but not the tokens that run on it. Founder and CEO of Mumbai-based cryptocurrency exchange WazirX, Nischal Shetty, told Quartz there “have been mixed signals and, while a lot of people are scared, some also believe India, a progressive nation in the world of finance, will not abruptly ban it. But then, no one knows.”
The industry has been dwindling in India ever since the reserve banks and financial institutions stopped dealing with crypto exchanges and service providers.
South Korean blockchain and crypto project ICONLOOP is planning big things for the latter half of the year. The country’s leading blockchain pioneer has been quiet for the past six months or so but has big ambitions for a blockchain-based smart city project. According to local media, the venture will be in cooperation with the World Smart Sustainable Cities Organization (WeGO). The organization provides support for its 200 member cities around the globe and ICON will be providing the technical expertise. A number of regional cities including Jakarta, Hanoi, Penang, Ulaanbaatar, Muscat and Kabul have shown interest in the project. ICON is said to be now working closely with several South Korean government projects in WeGO’s presidential city, Seoul.
In an ironic twist this week, a self-acclaimed Chinese crypto pioneer has paid $4.57 million for a lunch with the US billionaire that called Bitcoin ‘rat poison.’ Justin Sun, the 28-year-old founder of the 11th largest crypto platform Tron, bid the hefty sum to dine with Warren Buffett in a charity event yet to be confirmed. Sun said he hopes to educate the billionaire investor about blockchain and crypto assets while adding that Buffett had failed to realize the potential of the likes of Amazon, Google parent Alphabet and even Apple. The charity lunch raises funds for Glide, a San Francisco-based organization that provides food and shelter for the city’s homeless, and support for domestic violence victims. Buffet might have steered clear of crypto to date but he did say Sun’s contribution to Glide would help thousands of people.
In response to US sanctions in Iran, architects have come up with a novel approach to circumvention using outlandish construction and cryptocurrencies. A tower block disguised as a waterpark perched on top of the Abbas Abbad hill in Tehran also functions as a crypto mining farm. The gaudy looking 560-meter proposal will have the dual purpose of providing leisure facilities while mining new crypto coins. The water pumped through the slides will be used to cool the mining rigs in the basement, which will then heat the pools at the bottom of the tower. The concept has been dubbed the ‘post-JCPOA tower: crypto-park’ and is Iran’s lofty if esoteric entry to the 2019 Evolo Skyscraper Competition.