A man poses with a magnifier in front of a Facebook logo on display in this illustration taken in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, December 16, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo
Facebook has been facing intense regulatory pressure since it announced its plans for a digital currency in June. Photo: Twitter

Crypto markets have remained range-bound this week, primarily in anticipation of a big move by Bitcoin. At the time of writing the big pullback that many in the sector have been expecting has failed to materialize leaving most crypto assets in consolidation. Only Litecoin is making any progress. It surged over 30% in a week, as August’s “block halving” event approaches.

Google threw a virtual massive spanner in the works for independent crypto news outlets this week when its algorithm update resulted in traffic and ad revenue drying up for many of them. Whether intentional or not, the web monopoly has once again served up a digital nightmare for blockchain focussed publications. The incident highlights how reliant the planet still is on this one outlet, which currently has the dominant influence to decide what can, and cannot, be readily accessed online.

Facebook is reportedly recruiting backers for its crypto coin project, Libra, and has secured some of the biggest names from the digital payments world. According to the WSJ, a consortium of 12 companies has pledged $10 million each to be part of governance for the coin. Backers include Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Uber, Booking.com and Stripe. The official announcement for the new social-media-based digital currency is expected next week. The stablecoin will be pegged to a basket of government-issued currencies to avoid the volatility of crypto assets. Unlike current cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, it will not be decentralized but rather controlled by the corporate heavyweights and Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg himself. This has led many to question its integrity considering Facebook’s recent form with data security, censorship and privacy violations.

K-pop is expanding way beyond Korean shores as it gains international fans and new support platforms emerge to cater for them. The latest is a blockchain-based fan-club platform from entertainments company snowM. The snowDAQ platform, due for a demo launch next month, will provide services and a community-based platform for fans to keep up with the latest from their Korean idols. The firm already operates snowMakers, a blockchain-based artist development platform.

Still in South Korea, the largest bank, KB Kookmin, is venturing into the crypto asset custody market. The bank is reportedly partnering with blockchain startup Atomrigs Lab in order to offer secure safekeeping of digital assets. Atomrigs Lab is developing a platform dubbed Lime to securely store cryptocurrencies for the bank’s clients. South Korea is a leading crypto trading nation with some of the largest exchanges based there and handling huge daily volumes in KRW.

Russian lawmakers are mulling a penalty system in order to clamp down on unregulated crypto mining. Speaking to local media, chairman of the State Duma Committee on Financial Markets, Anatoly Aksakov, said illegal activities involving crypto would be penalized. “This means that mining, organizing production, circulation, creating exchange points for these tools will be prohibited,” Aksakov told local media. “We believe that cryptocurrencies created on open blockchains – bitcoins, ethers, etc, are illegitimate tools.” Aksakov believes there is about to be another Bitcoin boom and that current legislation needs to keep up with it.

A Singapore-based chat app is going into the crypto-card business with the launch of new debit cards that facilitate payments using digital currencies. Consentium will reward users with its own Ethereum-based crypto coin when they use the app to create groups and communities. According to the firm, the cards will be accepted at “many” retailers across the region and will allow users to withdraw cryptocurrency as cash at supported ATMs. The Consentium platform, that was launched in April last year following a funding round of $42 million, says it has over 40,000 active users.

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