An eastern South Korean province plans to issue its own cryptocurrency to replace the local currencies of its nine cities, according to local media. An exchange will be established for the new crypto. The coins can be used for payments within the province and merchants can accept them using smartphone QR codes.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Korean Province to Issue Own Crypto

Korean Province to Replace Local Currencies With Crypto
Gyeongsangbuk-do.

The South Korean province of Gyeongsangbuk-do has revealed that the effort to replace local currencies with a cryptocurrency has begun, Joongang Ilbo reported this week.

Also known as Gyeongbuk, the eastern South Korean province has been attempting to replace city-issued gift certificates with a cryptocurrency. Currently, nine cities of Gyeongsangbuk-do separately issue their own gift certificates, which are local currencies that can be used in selected areas of the province, the publication explained.

According to Naver, 60 municipalities nationwide, including nine cities in Gyeongsangbuk-do, currently use gift certificates as local currencies aimed at revitalizing local economies and preventing capital flight.

Korean Province to Replace Local Currencies With CryptoPohang, one of the largest cities in the province with over half a million inhabitants, is the nation’s largest issuer of these gift certificates, according to Kyongbuk daily newspaper. In May, the news outlet reported that the city had sold 100 billion won (~US$ 90 million) worth of the Pohang gift certificates since January last year.

According to Joongang Ilbo, the province’s Science and Technology Policy Department announced on August 27:

10 banks, mobile communication companies, a university research team and government officials of Gyeongsangbuk-do will gather for the first time for the issuance of the cryptocurrency.

Gyeongbuk Coin

Korean Province to Replace Local Currencies With CryptoThe tentative name of the cryptocurrency that Gyeongsangbuk-do is planning to issue is Gyeongbuk coin, the publication noted, adding that the first of the 100 billion won (~$90 million) annual issuance is expected in the first half of next year.

The province plans to create an exchange where Gyeongbuk coins can be purchased and sold. The coins can be used for payments and merchants can accept them using smartphone QR codes, the news outlet detailed.

Chung Sung-hyun, head of the province’s Science and Technology Policy Department, was quoted saying:

There are still many issues to be resolved…[such as] notifying merchants of the way they can use [the] coins, creating separate programs and issuing [the] coins (cryptocurrencies).

Korean Province to Replace Local Currencies With Crypto
Canton of Zug, Switzerland.

Gyeongsangbuk-do recently sent a benchmarking team to the canton of Zug in Switzerland, which is home to many crypto startups such as Shapeshift, Xapo, and the Ethereum Foundation. The team, consisting of 10 members including some outside experts, met with a number of government officials and local businesses.

Following a series of meetings, a Gyeongsangbuk-do official was quoted by Sedaily saying “I think we can utilize the experience gained through benchmarking by making the identity cards for 5,000 Gyeongbuk provincial government employees like Zug as blockchain-based digital ID cards.”

What do you think of this Korean province planning to replace local currencies with its own crypto? Let us know in the comments section below.

This post is credited to news.bitcoin

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro and his cabinet are determined to liberate the nation from the age-long economic crisis that has plagued the region, with its native digital currency the Petro. Per a France 24 report on August 28, 2018, authorities have ordered local banks present in the region to adopt the Petro crypto.

Banks to Use the Petro Altcoin

According to sources close to the matter, Maduro has made it mandatory for all the banks in the region to integrate the Petro into their operations and use it as a unit of account. Going forward, both state-owned and private banks will now use the newly issued sovereign bolivars and the DLT-based Petro virtual currency for all financial information in the nation.

For several years the Latin American nation has been plagued with a severe socio-economic crisis that has joined forces with international sanctions to paralyze the country’s economy.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the inflation rate in Venezuela may reach one million percent by the end of 2018.

Amidst that backdrop, as previously reported by BTCManager on August 16, 2018, authorities announced moves to officially make the Petro the second unit of account in the region, and also use it to pay workers salaries.

The presidency also seized the opportunity to set an August 20 date for the devaluation of the bolivar, to strip it of five zeros and transform the dead banknote into a “sovereign bolivar.”
“It will be the second unit of account of the Republic and will begin operations as a mandatory accounting unit of our PDVSA oil industry,” said Maduro at the time.

Of a truth, the creation of the Petro and subsequent devaluation of the Bolivar may not be a quick fix to the problems of Venezuela, Maduro and his team, however, remain determined to make things work correctly again.

At current, the Maduro led administration has increased workers minimum wage by a whopping 3,000 percent (equivalent to about $30 a month) and has also hiked the price of gasoline, a move it claims would help Venezuela save about $10 billion annually.

Since launching the Petro central bank-backed cryptocurrency, Maduro has been doing everything in his power to increase Petro adoption in the state. Back in May 2018, authorities announced the creation of a Petro-funded youth bank that would be granted $1.2 billion to handle “productive initiatives” for the young adult population.

While about 400,000 citizens have fled from Venezuela to neighboring nations like Ecuador, the diehard citizens and businesses that have decided to remain in the embattled country have reportedly been adopting other cryptos like Dash (DASH), to help them survive the crisis.

This post is credited to btcmanager

An official document detailing the specifications of an Iranian national digital currency based on the rial and blockchain technology has been drafted.

IBENA, a news outlet and affiliate of the Central Bank of Iran, reports that the Informatics Services Corporations (ISC), also an affiliate of the Central Bank of Iran, has released the following information on the digital currency.

Key Findings
  • The digital currency is backed by the rial.
  • The issuer is the Central Bank of Iran.
  • The Central Bank will control the volume of the centralized digital currency.
  • It will live on a private blockchain infrastructure.
  • It cannot be mined.
  • The infrastructure is intended for an ecosystem of Iranian banks and cryptocurrency-related companies.
  • The digital currency is designed and developed by ISC based on Hyperledger Fabric Platform technology, an open source blockchain framework. Hyperledger Fabric was initially contributed by Digital Asset and IBM, as the result of a hackathon.

The implementation of a government-backed “cryptocurrency” would allow the country to skirt US sanctions that are intended to stop its access to the global economy. The sanctions affect Iran’s ability to purchase or acquire US dollar banknotes, gold and precious metals, as well as impact Iranian rial transactions, sovereign debt and the country’s automotive industry.

The wave of new sanctions were imposed earlier this month. In November, a new round of sanctions on Iran’s oil and gas reserves will be reimposed.

CNN reports,

“Iran has been described as the ‘Germany of the Middle East,’ the last major emerging market to open fully to the outside world, with more than 80 million consumers, a highly educated population and an array of natural resources – including precious metals.

The sanctions could torpedo Iran’s efforts – at least for the remainder of the Trump administration – to realize its full potential.

Iran needs access to foreign currency and Washington is applying the full weight of the US Federal Reserve to block efforts by Tehran’s new central bank governor to provide relief to Iran’s exporters and importers.”

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Bobby Lee, CEO and co-founder of the first Bitcoin exchange in China (BTCC) and former vice president of technology for Walmart’s e-commerce business in China, tweeted that Iran could avoid economic disruption by embracing Bitcoin.

Although the newly proposed national digital currency fundamentally differs from Bitcoin and similar decentralized cryptocurrencies, which are mined through consensus and are traded on a public, open, decentralized blockchains, it emulates Bitcoin by empowering people to transfer value outside of the existing financial system.

According to a local news report, Alireza Daliri, the deputy for management and investment affairs of the Directorate for Scientific and Technological Affairs of the Presidential Office, said that the currency “would facilitate the transfer of money (to and from) anywhere in the world. Besides, it can help us at the time of sanctions.”

This post is credited to dailyhodl

Benjamin Strick, a specialist in open-source investigations in international crime, terrorism, and human rights abuses, recently discovered a crowdsourced mujahideen platform that allows anyone in the world to fund Jihadist projects anonymously.

Any funds on the Sadaqa Platform can be donated via a variety of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Monero, and Ethereum. While media organization Foreign Affairs believes that cryptocurrency technologies currently have a fairly limited use for terrorists, these barriers are predicted to fall over time as cryptocurrencies become more accessible to the public.

Introducing SadaqaCoins: A Cryptocurrency Crowdsource Platform

According to the SadaqaCoins website, their goal is to assist Jihadists by creating a crowdsourcing platform to connect project organizers to supporters of their campaign. The site functions very similarly to the crowdsourcing platform Kickstarter. However, instead of hosting creative projects, the projects on SadaqaCoins are designed for people who are interested in supporting the Jihadist cause.

The website currently runs on the dark web which can only be accessed via a tor browser through its onion link. Strick has, however, provided a mirror version of the site which can be seen here.

Like other crowdsourcing websites, the creators of the Jihadi Cryptocurrency crowdsourcing platform have made it a fast and easy process for supporters and donors. Patrons select a project of their appeal, and transfer cryptocurrencies of their choice and the SadaqaCoins platform handles everything else.

Since SadaqaCoins is a relatively new project, they are also using their platform to request assistance to help grow the venture. The organization is seeking for cryptocurrency donations which will go towards expanding their website, investing in an Intel laptop, hardware cold wallets to securely hold cryptocurrencies, and translation services for the site.

Since it’s a new project, there have not yet been any transactions and donations to the website. Strick is, however, keeping an open eye to see if there are any donations in the future.

Jihadist Crowdfunding Projects on the Rise

In an exclusive conversation with BTCManager, Strick noted that, while SadaqaCoins is the first Jihadi cryptocurrency crowdsourced site, there will be many more projects to come.

Terrorist groups will be interested in leveraging emerging technologies like cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology; something that we should remain cautious and vigilant about since many projects have “only started in 2018.”

Strick also mentioned that other Jihadi Groups are accepting cryptocurrencies as forms of donations. These include Malhama Tactical, a private military contractor that trains fighters in the Middle East, and Al-Sadaqa, a mujahideen crowdfunding group. Malhama Tactical, also leveraged social media to their advantage and was once “very active on Twitter.”

They were however quickly banned from the social media site and have instead, jumped on messaging application Telegram. Strick added:

“All three use Bitcoin as an anonymous way for people in wealthier countries to fund the jihad movement.”

Unlike the other two projects, SadaqaCoins is, however, a platform that can assist and host other projects on its page. An example of a recently formed project is called ‘We Hunt.’

According to its page, “this project aims at equipping already trained and experienced Snipers with much-needed equipment and resources which will inshaAllah be employed in either training exercises or combat operations in the near future.”

While SadaqaCoins touts that cryptocurrency donations are anonymous and secure on its platform, this is not completely true. Strick noted that Bitcoin donations are not completely anonymous and a donor’s identity can be revealed with open-source information.

According to Science Magazine, the transactions and movement of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are all recorded in a public ledger. Hence why law enforcement is now even “seeing cryptocurrency as a tool for prosecuting crimes…[since] investigators can follow the money.”

Cryptocurrency Crowdsource Financing Meets Dark Web Marketplaces

While there have been many different ways to finance terror in the past, what’s interesting about SadaqaCoins is the rise of dark web marketplaces, and cryptocurrency crowdsource financing.

Although Foreign Affairs noted that the use of cryptocurrencies to fund terrorist groups is not widespread yet, the greater pressures that exist on terrorist finance methods along with easy to use cryptocurrencies may be the combination of factors that leads to a quick and large-scale adoption of cryptocurrencies by terrorists and extremists.

With the creation of newer cryptocurrencies, especially ones that provide greater anonymity like Zcash and Monero, Foreign Affairs believes that if these cryptocurrencies can provide the privacy features they promise, it would be a great tool for terrorists; only until law enforcement finds a new way to track these tokens. Regardless, while cryptocurrencies are not being heavily used by terrorist organizations today, it’s not so far-fetched for them to leverage cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology in the future.

This post is credited to btcmanager

Hong Kong is seeking to attract worldwide talents with specialties in innovative technologies including blockchain via a special immigration policy.

The Hong Kong government released a talent list on Tuesday that covers a range of 11 professions that are now eligible to receive bonus marks when experts in these areas apply for the city’s Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS).

One of the areas is dedicated to “innovation and technology experts in, but not limited to, … artificial intelligence, robotics, distributed ledger technologies, biometric technologies and industrial/chemical engineering, etc.”

Launched in 2006, the QMAS allows successful applicants to enter and settle in the Chinese special administrative region without having to first secure a job offer from a local employer.

“The Scheme is a quota-based entrant scheme. It seeks to attract highly skilled or talented persons to settle in Hong Kong in order to enhance Hong Kong’s economic competitiveness,” according to the program’s description.

The scheme’s selection process requires applicants to meet several prerequisites before being awarded points under one of the two points-based tests: General Points Test and Achievement-based Points Test. The points are further used for competing with other applicants each year.

“For applicants who meet the specifications of the respective profession under the Talent List, bonus marks will be given under the General Points Test of the QMAS,” the government said in the announcement.

To be qualified in the innovation and technology area, blockchain professionals need to hold a bachelor or above degree with experience in notable firms in the filed and knowledge of how to apply blockchain in financial services.

The effort comes at a time when the Hong Kong government is taking the lead in adopting blockchain to boost the city’s competitiveness in financial technology.

As CoinDesk previously reported, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the city’s de facto central bank, is set to roll out a distributed ledger network among several banks in the region to facilitate transactions in trade finance.

This post is credited to coindesk

This month the Blockchain Transparency Institute (BTI) published a research report that claims quite a few of the top cryptocurrency exchanges are overstating their trade volumes or participating in wash trades. BTI explains that out of 130 of the top cryptocurrency trading platforms researched, the organization estimates that every 24-hours over $6B worth of digital asset trade volumes are faked.

Also Read: Lloyd’s of London Insures Cryptocurrency Custody Service Kingdom Trust

Suspect Exchanges Ratio Ranged Wildly

Every single day billions of dollars worth of cryptocurrencies are swapped, and today there’s been about $12.9B traded over the last 24-hours. Over the past year or more many exchanges have been scrutinized for false reporting and various data sites have been called into question for over-exaggerated trade volumes. For example, this past March Sylvain Ribes has published a study that revealed some interesting information about trade volumes stemming from exchanges like Okex and Huobi. This month the Blockchain Transparency Institute (BTI) published its research that explains 70 percent of the top 100 exchanges listed on data sites like Coinmarketcap are reporting phony volumes.

Researchers Find Discrepancies With Top Exchange Volumes
List of the top twenty exchanges from BTI’s research.

The methodology in the study used the trading platform’s order book liquidity and the exchange’s unique daily visitor counts. The research was conducted using web traffic data websites like Google Analytics and Similarweb. The BTI researchers detail that the study also used Sylvain Ribes’ slippage paper which BTI says gave them a more accurate analysis of exchange volumes.

“The accurate exchanges outside of the big money exchanges typically have a volume/user to unique visitor ratio of around between 2% and 5% (3.5% average). The suspect exchanges ratio ranged wildly from 10% up to over 655,000%.

For example, Lbank and ZB exchanges which both claim to be in the top 10 of all exchanges, are also claiming to have volume/unique visitor numbers over $214,000 and $74,000 per day, respectively. This is outlandish considering known high liquid markets Bitfinex, Binance, and Coinbase fall between $5,000 and $8,500 per visitor per day.

Three Times the Stated Volumes

BTI also says there are discrepancies with the exchanges Okex and Huobi as well as the trading platform Bibox. The study details that Binance commands the largest unique visitor per day count, and the top trading platform in the USA is Coinbase. As far as South Korea, the BTI researchers state Bithumb outpaces Upbit’s volumes. However, Upbit disputes this statistic and has contacted the BTI team. The researchers detail they will look into Upbit’s mobile app user count and are willing to work with any exchanges who provide verifiable data. In the end, the study concludes that roughly $6B stemming from 130 exchanges reporting trade volumes are likely phony.

Researchers Find Discrepancies With Top Exchange Volumes
CMC volumes August 28, 2018 (left adjusted) – (right reported)

“Tallying up the volume numbers of the top 130 exchanges, it is estimated that over $6 billion dollars in daily trade volume is being faked with over 67% of daily volume being wash traded,” details BTI.

Over 70% of the CMC top 100 is likely engaging in wash trading by at least 3x their stated volume.

Phony trade volumes are nothing new to the cryptocurrency industry as there have been accusations since the first exchanges opened. Back in 2013 and 2014, there were many studies and editorials concerning exchanges reporting false numbers. This past July Crypto Exchange Ranks published a report that accuses the site Coinmarketcap (CMC) of incentivizing fake volumes. CMC had made some adjustments to the portal this year which make for a different display of exchange rankings.

What do you think about BTI’s study concerning discrepancies with exchange activity? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

This post is credited to news.bitcoin

Bithumb, one of the largest South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges, will open up account registrations after a month-long freeze, local media outlet Yonhap News reports Wednesday, August 29.

According to a spokesperson from banking partner Nonghyup Bank, Bithumb will meet specific requirements as dictated by South Korean law in return for regaining banking support.

Nonghyup had previously suspended its services for Bithumb at the end of July, rumors at the time suggesting the decision had come after the exchange lost $17 million in its most recent hack a month previously.

“We decided to keep the investor assets separate, and we will not accept interest or deposits,” the spokesperson said.

In January, South Korea introduced wide-ranging rules for cryptocurrency exchanges, which included banning foreign citizens and ensuring all traders linked their accounts to their ‘real name’ bank account.

Bithumb has had a chequered history, with several hacks piling pressure on executives to ensure compliance.

With the fresh agreement due to come into force August 30 meanwhile, markets have already begun reacting.

Trade volumes on Bithumb, which had tanked following the banking problems, have increased precipitously in the past 24 hours, BTC/KRW posting gains of almost 70 percent versus August 27-28.

Bithumb is currently ranked fifth largest crypto exchange in the world by daily trading volumes, seeing about $362.4 million in trades over the past 24 hours.

This post is credited to cointelegraph

A county in China’s northern Sichuan province has signed a strategic cooperation contract to establish a new blockchain company in an effort to develop the forestry industry, local news outlet China Net reported August 24.

The Beichuan Qiang Autonomous County of Sichuan Province and Beijing Sinfotek Group have jointly established a new company, Hangzhou Yi Shu Blockchain Technology Co., Ltd for “forestry economic development and industrial poverty alleviation.” The parties signed the cooperation contract in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, on August 19, China Net reports.

The newly established company is reportedly one of the 19 blockchain companies to have passed the first batch of 700 project declarations in the Hangzhou Blockchain Industrial Park. The company aims to apply blockchain technology to farming and agriculture industries. The report states:

“[The company’s strategy] will be closely integrated with the national development strategy, and [will] fully promote the application of blockchain technology to realize the parallel development of enterprise value and forestry industry.”

Earlier this month the Communist Party of China (CPC) had released a book on blockchain technology and its possible applications, as Cointelegraph reported August 13.

Last week, one of the world’s largest insurance company groups, China’s Ping An Insurance, released a “White Paper on Smart Cities,” advocating for blockchain technology development and “promoting the development of ‘smart city.’”

This post is credited to cointelegraph

The Associated Press (AP) news agency has inked a content licensing partnership with blockchain-based startup Civil, according to an official announcement Tuesday, August 28.

AP is reportedly interested in exploring ways to secure intellectual property rights, support ethical journalism, and track content usage with blockchain technology.

As part of the project, AP will deliver its content, including national and international news to Civil, so that news agencies can access it on the platform. Any newsroom wishing to access AP content will be licensed directly by AP.

As part of the collaboration, AP will own CVL tokens which, according to Civil, serve as an incentive device to keep newsrooms objective and accurate. Jim Kennedy, AP’s senior vice president for Strategy and Enterprise Development, explained the agency’s interest in digital ledger technology (DLT):

“AP has been pushing into new digital territory for more than two decades, and Civil is opening up another new space with interesting technology to explore and a commitment to good journalism. We’re eager to help cultivate the space and demonstrate our value to a new set of digital publishers.”

The Associated Press, founded in 1846 and headquartered in New York City, is one of the world’s largest news agencies. According to 2016 data provided by the agency itself, AP operates 263 news bureaus in 106 countries.

Civil is a startup that develops technology to track ownership rights and content usage in the journalism industry.

Other companies have also sought to leverage blockchain technology in order to provide more fair and objective journalistic practices. In July, Adblock Plus developer eyeo GmbH announced a blockchain-based browser extension Trusted News, Cointelegraph reported June 14. The add-on’s purpose is to specifically label “fake news” while whitelisting trustworthy sources and stories.

This post is credited to cointelegraph

North Korea (DPRK) has attempted to mine Bitcoin (BTC), Yonhap News reported August 27, citing a report compiled by a research unit from South Korea’s state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB).

Yonhap notes that the mining attempt – which was allegedly conducted “on a small scale” between May and July 2017 – appears to have been unsuccessful, although the reasons for this remain unclear.

According to Yonhap, the KDB report claims that North Korea’s interest resides in the essential “characteristics of cryptocurrencies, including anonymity, difficulties of tracing money and cashability.” The KBD research unit reportedly cited a local media report as the source of its information on the mining story.

KDB’s research unit has reportedly moreover claimed that a North Korean tech firm, Chosun Expo, is in the process of developing a Bitcoin crypto exchange, although no further details are given.

The research unit has also reported that its interviews with North Korean defectors suggest that the majority of the country’s citizens have scant knowledge of crypto, in stark contrast to their southern neighbours.

While widespread knowledge of crypto may apparently elude most citizens in the tight grip of a media-controlled state, North Korean hackers last week made news for allegedly infecting a cryptocurrency exchange with malware that unusually targeted both Windows and macOS systems.

Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports are emerging of an alleged upcoming blockchain conference in Pyongang this October. CNBC’s Ran NeuNer somewhat jocularly shared the news on Twitter earlier this week, quipping “Who’s coming?”

This post is credited to cointelegraph