Singapore Shipping Association to Deploy Blockchain for Ship Registration

Singapore Shipping Association to Deploy Blockchain for Ship Registration

The Singapore Shipping Association, the International Chamber of Commerce and blockchain firm Perlin are jointly working on an e-registry for ships.

The Singapore Shipping Association (SSA), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and blockchain firm Perlin are jointly working on an e-registry for the ship registration and renewal process.

Running on self-executing smart contracts

The International E-Registry of Ships (IERS) system is based on Perlin’s Wavelet, an open ledger for writing decentralized WebAssembly applications, financial daily Business Times reported on Oct. 14. The blockchain e-register will run on self-executing smart contracts, purportedly reducing time, costs and occurrence of errors in the registration process.

The initiative found favor with the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, which is testing the registration process with the system. If the system proves to be successful in Singapore, the ICC will bid for global adoption of IERS standards in the industry.

Some rise, some fall

The market for blockchain-powered solutions has become highly demanded in the maritime sector. In late August, Thailand’s Customs Department announced it would use IBM’s Tradelens blockchain solution. The platform is expected to streamline operations by managing shipment tracking and information sharing in Thai ports.

Maritime shipping firms Ocean Network Express and Hapag-Lloyd joined blockchain tracking platform TradeLens in July. The platform aims to cut paperwork, associated costs and time in the logistics industry — which reportedly accounted for $4 trillion at the time — with over 80% of the goods carried by the ocean shipping sector.

However, some blockchain shipping initiatives fell short of initial aspirations, with blockchain shipping startup 300cubits suspending operations of its booking module and the circulation of its TEU token in October. Low transaction volume — with only a couple hundred containers using the system — made the operation unfruitful.

Revolut Partners with Visa to Expand Into North, South America and Asia

Revolut Partners with Visa to Expand Into North, South America and Asia

United Kingdom-based digital banking app Revolut announces a major partnership with Visa to expand its services globally across 24 new markets, including North America.

United Kingdom-based digital banking app Revolut announced a major partnership with Visa to expand its services globally across 24 new markets, including North America.

According to a Sept. 30 press release, this will bring 56 markets worldwide in total into Revolut’s reach.

North, Latin American and Asian markets

Per the release, the terms of the agreement stipulate that Revolut will primarily issue Visa-branded cards as it pursues its global expansion push.

Visa will enable the app to launch services initially in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore and the United States.

This first group of jurisdictions will be followed by Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, Ukraine and Vietnam.

The strengthened partnership between the two firms builds on their existing cooperation, which saw Revolut first issue Visa cards to its users across Europe in July 2017, says press release.

Revolut to hire 3,500 new staff members

In an interview with Reuters on Sept. 30, Revolut CEO and founder Nikolay Storonsky revealed that the firm will hire some 3,500 new staff members following the new deal, bringing its total workforce to around 5,000.

The Reuters report further indicates that the app’s launch in the U.S. and Singapore is expected by the end of this year, with Canada and Japan to follow. The timeline for expansion to Latin American and Asian markets has not been indicated and all launches remain subject to regulatory approval. 

Storonsky told Reuters that the average Revolut client holds around 1,000 euros ($1,090) in their account. With the app’s 8 million user base, this translates into a total deposit balance of roughly 8 billion euros ($8.74 billion).

Earlier this year, Storonksy was prompted to publicly refute allegations of money laundering breach and negligence by the company. A period of negative publicity was followed by reports from U.K. broadsheets alleging Revolut executives deliberately decommissioned Anti-Money Laundering software in 2017. 

The reports further claimed that the firm attracted the attention of the U.K.’s financial watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

In late 2017, Revolut rolled out support for Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH) and Litecoin (LTC). 

In June, Visa was named as one of the firms to have backed Facebook’s Libra stablecoin project via its membership in a newly-created independent governance consortium — the Libra Association. 

Visa CEO Alfred F. Kelly Jr. subsequently emphasized that the 20-odd companies involved with Libra had reportedly only declared their interest via a nonbinding letter of intent.

New Study Reveals Countries With Most Registered Crypto Exchanges

New Study Reveals Countries With Most Registered Crypto Exchanges

The U.K., the U.S, Hong Kong and Singapore have the largest number of registered digital currency exchanges, per a recent report.

The United Kingdom, the United States, Hong Kong and Singapore have the largest number of registered digital currency exchanges, according to data from Bitfury’s blockchain analytics platform Crystal.

Crystal published its “Report on International Bitcoin Flows 2013–2019” on Sept. 9, in which it provides insight into cryptocurrency operations and Bitcoin (BTC) transactions around the world between Jan. 1, 2013, and June 30, 2019.

U.K. and U.S. lead the rating

The findings show that the largest number of registered crypto exchanges are in the U.K., the U.S., Hong Kong and Singapore. Countries such as Argentina, India, Mexico, Russia and Indonesia report the fewest registered exchanges.

Per the report, almost 10% of all exchanges considered in the survey do not have countries of registration.

As for Bitcoin transactions, in 2013, 96% of all Bitcoin transferred between exchanges was sent by exchanges from the “G20 & Other” group (shown below), while in 2018 the number slumped to 70%. The report further states:

“In 2018, the total volume of bitcoin directly transferred between exchanges was almost $92.6 billion. A total of $65.1 billion was transferred by exchanges from G20 countries, Hong Kong, and Singapore.”

Registered exchanges in “G20 & Other” group

Registered exchanges in “G20 & Other” group. Source: Crystal

Impact of crypto regulations

As previously reported, G20 leaders reaffirmed their previous stance towards cryptocurrencies in a declaration following the G20 Summit in Osaka on June 29. The G20 leaders stated that cryptocurrencies do not currently constitute a threat to monetary stability, and that technological innovation can deliver significant benefit to the economy.

Although the U.K. is widely considered to be a global leader when it comes to crypto adoption and innovation, the environment is purportedly still confusing and complicated for exchanges, platforms and other related businesses, as the industry has been neglected in the push to protect consumers.

Philippine Boxing Champion Manny Pacquiao Releases Own Cryptocurrency

Philippine Boxing Champion Manny Pacquiao Releases Own Cryptocurrency

Philippine boxing champion Manny Pacquiao has launched his own cryptocurrency, which will reportedly be listed on Singapore’s Global Crypto Offering Exchange.

Philippine boxing champion and celebrity Manny Pacquiao has launched his own cryptocurrency.

On Sept. 1, the South China Morning Post reported that the Filipino boxer turned politician and singer launched his own token with the financial support of private investors such as ex-Liverpool and England soccer star Michael Owen and Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed al-Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family.

Listing on Singapore-based Global Crypto Offering Exchange

The Pac token will be listed on Singapore’s Global Crypto Offering Exchange (GCOX), paving the way for his fans to buy merchandise and interact with him via social media.

GCOX Founder and CEO Jeffrey Lin reportedly said that the token is not intended to just raise money but to build a token ecosystem.

Pacquiao, who currently holds the World Boxing Association welterweight title, first assumed office as a senator in the Philippines in June 2016.  

More celebrity plans to launch crypto tokens with GCOX 

As Cointelegraph previously reported, American singer-songwriter Jason Derulo is also planning to launch his own cryptocurrency on the platform.

GCOX’s chief communications officer Evan Ngow said at the time: “We are committed to assembling a diverse, multi-talented array of stars at GCOX, and Jason will certainly not be the last musician to join our ranks.”

In its white paper, GCOX points out that its technology is built on the Acclaim blockchain and is designed to benefit celebrities at different points in their career.

Switzerland’s First Licensed Crypto Bank Is Eyeing Singapore Next

Switzerland’s First Licensed Crypto Bank Is Eyeing Singapore Next

Cryptocurrency firm Sygnum is in talks with local regulators to seal a crypto banking license in Singapore.

Sygnum is in talks with local regulators to seal a banking license in Singapore, Bloomberg reported on Aug. 28.

The cryptocurrency firm has only just been issued a conditional banking and securities dealer license in Switzerland — and now aims to become a fully regulated bank on the island nation so it can provide a full suite of financial services.

Becoming a full-fledged, regulated crypto bank

Sygnum co-founder and chief strategy officer Gerald Goh said its application for the Singapore license will get underway once it becomes a fully fledged Swiss bank later this year.

The financial services it would be able to offer include custodial services for Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH), as well as conversions between the two cryptocurrencies and Swiss francs, euros, Singapore dollars and U.S. dollars. 

As a regulated bank, Sygnum will also be able to roll out digital asset custody, brokerage and tokenization services for accredited investors and institutions.

Fellow co-founder and Sygnum CEO Mathias Imbach said:

“We have been approached over the past few months by many parties who hold a lot of cryptocurrencies and look for a fully regulated bank. One of their biggest challenges is to find banking specialists to connect them to the real world, to pay their taxes, their employees’ salary.”

Zeroing in on compliance  

To date, Sygnum has raised roughly 60 million Swiss francs ($61 million), including investments from institutions such as Singapore Telecommunications Ltd.

Chua Kimg Leng — former special advisor for financial supervision at the Monetary Authority of Singapore — sits on the company’s board and heads its internal Anti-Money Laundering committee. 

All board directors and roughly 85% of employees at the firm are shareholders. 

As it awaits regulatory approval, Sygnum’s CEO said the company is focusing on carrying out robust due diligence on all new potential clients to mitigate money laundering risks.

This spring, Cointelegraph reported that Sygnum had partnered with global market infrastructure provider Deutsche Borse Group and Swiss state-owned telecoms and ICT firm Swisscom to build out a compliant financial market infrastructure for digital assets. 

Sygnum and the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) also this week finalized a banking and securities dealer license for cryptocurrency firm Seba Crypto AG.

On Aug. 26, FINMA published new guidance on regulatory requirements for blockchain-based payments.

Report: Rwandan Central Bank Looks to Issue Official Digital Currency

Report: Rwandan Central Bank Looks to Issue Official Digital Currency

Rwanda’s central bank is looking at central bank-issued digital currency tests in other countries as they consider one themselves.

Rwanda’s central bank, the National Bank of Rwanda, is researching how to offer an official digital currency.

BNN Bloomberg reported the news on Aug. 22. The central bank is interested in offering digital currency as a means to increase transaction efficiency and foster economic growth, per the report. However, Financial Stability Director-General Peace Masozera Uwase remarked that work remains to be done before implementation is on the table:

“There are still concerns about how exactly you convert the entire currency into digital form, how to distribute that and how fast can you process those transactions […] Challenges come in, if technology is down how do you deal with such issues? We will join in once we are ready.”

Learning from central banks around the world

Uwase reportedly said that the central bank will also study other central banks’ attempts to create a national, digital currency, including those in Canada, Singapore and the Netherlands. 

As reported by Cointelegraph, the International Monetary Fund wrote in June that Uruguay has begun a pilot program for a central bank digital currency, and the following countries were “on the verge” of launching their own tests: the Bahamas, China, Eastern Caribbean Currency Union, Sweden and Ukraine.

China hastens to launch a digital currency

As of this week, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) is reportedly getting close to launching a digital currency, following approximately five years of research and development. The unveiling of Facebook’s proposed stablecoin, Libra may have spurred the Chinese central bank on.

Crypto Payment Firm Everex Obtains License From New Jersey Regulators

Crypto Payment Firm Everex Obtains License From New Jersey Regulators

Everex has received a full Money Transmitter License from a New Jersey regulator, allowing it to expand cryptocurrency trading service in the U.S. market.

Stablecoin-based settlement platform Everex has obtained a full Money Transmitter License from a New Jersey regulator, allowing the company to test services in the United States.

In a press release shared with Cointelegraph on Aug. 19, Everex revealed that the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance issued the company a full Money Transmitter License as of Aug. 13.

Big plans on U.S. expansion

The license reportedly authorizes Everex to conduct activities such as peer-to-peer (p2p) cryptocurrency to fiat exchange, including with U.S.-based exchanges. Everex will also be able to perform blockchain-enabled payments and p2p cryptocurrency-fiat-stablecoin transfers both domestically and internationally.

According to Everex’s blog post on March 25, the company intended to integrate with banks and third-party e-commerce providers, as well as to procure permission to operate in several U.S. states in 2019.

In early April, the central banks of Myanmar and Thailand endorsed Everex’s Ether (ETH)-based remittance system. Veerathai Santiprabhob, the governor of Thailand’s Central Bank reportedly said that “this project is an important step forward for the more than 3 million workers in Thailand who might have so far used not secured channels.”

U.S. states’ varying approach to crypto

As Cointelegraph reported in a dedicated analysis earlier today, the regulatory landscape is actively changing throughout the U.S., as different states push in different directions in regard to crypto, while the federal government has yet to adopt a universal framework despite the calls from local actors. As a result, there is a widening regulatory gap between separate national units.

Lindsay Danas Cohen, chief operating officer at Velocity Markets, a U.S.-based financial technology company providing solutions to investors in the digital asset markets, told Cointelegraph:

“In the future, absent federal intervention, it is likely that these different interpretations will be cemented, reinforcing a state-level patchwork (much as we see with Blue Sky laws).  Whether federal-level intervention actually materializes will depend on how D.C. views its role in mediating the space, and whether they deem it in the public interest for there to be a uniform set of laws applicable to cryptographic asset activity.”

Singapore Crypto Association Launches Code of Practice

Singapore Crypto Association Launches Code of Practice

The Association of Cryptocurrency Enterprises and Startups, Singapore, has developed a Code of Practice in partnership with multinational law firm Linklaters.

The Association of Cryptocurrency Enterprises and Startups, Singapore (ACCESS), has developed a Code of Practice in partnership with multinational law firm Linklaters.

A Global Legal Post report published Aug. 19 revealed that ACCESS had the support of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) — the country’s central bank and regulatory authority — and also consulted the Association of Banks in Singapore to launch the new initiative.

Tackling AML/CFT Risks

The new Code of Practice falls within the scope of ACCESS’ “Standardization of Practice in Crypto Entities,” which provides detailed Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) guidelines (including Know Your Customer (KYC) best practices) for entities in the digital asset industry.

The new Code is intended to further promote regulatory compliance and tackle concerns connected with AML/CFT risks. 

In a statement, Peiying Chua — head of Linklaters’ financial regulation practice in Singapore — characterized the initiative as industry-changing and said it would “enhance the conduct of crypto-asset and blockchain companies in Singapore and further cement Singapore’s reputation as a leading jurisdiction in the blockchain and fintech space.” 

A bid for global fintech competitiveness

ACCESS chairman Anson Zeall has pointed to recent developments in Singapore’s crypto regulatory regime, noting that it is becoming more competitive at the international level. 

He noted that newly-proposed changes to the country’s goods and services tax (GST) in relation to digital payment tokens will help to diminish expenses and costs for businesses in the emerging sector.

Zeall’s perspective was recently echoed by a partner at PwC Hong Kong’s corporate tax practice, who has argued that the government’s bid to drop the 7% GST for the use of cryptocurrencies to pay for goods and services will have a positive impact on crypto exchanges, asset managers and blockchain entrepreneurs.

Bitholic Now Bithumb Singapore in New Expansion by South Korean Bithumb

Bitholic Now Bithumb Singapore in New Expansion by South Korean Bithumb

Bitholic has changed its name to Bithumb Singapore, indicating a shakeup or new partnership with South Korean exchange Bithumb.

Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange Bitholic has changed its name to Bithumb Singapore this month. Bithumb, for its part, is known as a cryptocurrency exchange based in South Korea.

Local media News1 Korea shared the announcement in a report on Aug. 8. According to the report, the name change is part of an overseas expansion for Bithumb; however, the paper notes that Bithumb’s equity structure remains unknown.

According to the announcement, the exchange’s name change occurred sometime this month. Moreover, a Bithumb official reportedly confirmed with the outlet that “Bitholic plans to launch a coin trading business under the name of Bithumb Singapore.” At press time, however, Bitholic’s website appears to retain its name for now.

The report also notes that BitHolic is represented by Park Jung-hoon, who is apparently a former director of the Bithumb Strategic Planning Office. 

Back in Oct. 2018, the BK Global Consortium acquired a majority share in Bithumb for $354 million, as per a report by The Business Times. The leader of BK Global, Kim Byung-gun, is reportedly a plastic surgeon who operates clinics out of both South Korea and Singapore in addition to investing in blockchain businesses.

Legal troubles for Bithumb

As reported by Cointelegraph in June, Bithumb faces legal action for insufficient safeguards of its users’ personal information. The prosecutors in the case alleged that a data breach was to blame for a platform hack that cost users almost $7 million. These lawyers alleged that Bithumb stored its customers’ data on employee computers with no encryption or security update software.

Singapore’s Regulator Warns of New Scam Bitcoin Investment Scheme

Singapore’s Regulator Warns of New Scam Bitcoin Investment Scheme

Singapore’s financial watchdog warns of an online Bitcoin scam scheme using fabricated claims by a former prime minister.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has flagged an online Bitcoin (BTC) scam scheme that offers Bitcoin investment using forged claims by a former prime minister.

Website uses forged statements by a former prime minister to solicit Bitcoin investment

On July 31, Singapore’s central bank and financial watchdog issued an official warning, stating that the agency has become aware of a website that invited online users to invest in Bitcoin via an article containing falsified claims.

According to MAS, the scam website referenced fabricated statements falsely attributed to Goh Chok Tong, a local politician who served as Singapore’s second prime minister from 1990 to 2004. The statements were “either false, or were taken out of context and used in a misleading way,” the regulator noted.

The authority also presented a screenshot demonstrating these fraudulent statements.

Online scam using forged statements by Goh Chok Tong | Source: Monetary Authority of Singapore

Online scam using forged statements by Goh Chok Tong | Source: Monetary Authority of Singapore

Website asks readers to deposit at least $250 into Bitcoin Loophole

As reported by MAS, the former prime minister’s name was used in order to make people deposit a minimum of $250 into the trading platform named Bitcoin Loophole, which claims to execute automated trades on users’ behalf. The platform also requested credit card or bank account details, the regulator added, advising the public to exercise extreme caution and avoid providing any information to the website owners.

Cointelegraph reported on Bitcoin Loophole in late June, when social media giant Facebook removed ads for a Bitcoin scam that mimicked posts by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi.

In January 2019, MAS issued a warning against a number of fraudulent websites claiming that the Singaporean government was officially adopting a cryptocurrency. Similarly to this new case, the fraudulent scheme was distributed via different websites and offered crypto investment opportunities using false information.

Singapore-Based Blockchain Firm Perlin Acquires Blockchain Startup Dispatch Labs

Singapore-Based Blockchain Firm Perlin Acquires Blockchain Startup Dispatch Labs

Singapore-based blockchain company Perlin has acquired blockchain development startup Dispatch Labs.

Singapore-based blockchain company Perlin has acquired blockchain development startup Dispatch Labs, Dispatch Labs CTO Zane Witherspoon told Cointelegraph on July 26.

Perlin acquired Dispatch’s talent, provisional and non-provisional United States patents on Dispatch’s blockchain IP, and strategic business partnerships. Former Dispatch CTO Zane Witherspoon will now manage Perlin’s Developer Ecosystem. The company did not disclose the value of the transaction.

The acquisition comes in the wake of the news in mid-June that Dispatch incurred considerable losses despite extensive investment and a recovering cryptocurrency market. Although Dispatch Labs received funding from its executive team, subsequently raising over $13 million in a series of private rounds from other investors in 2018, the value of the raised capital slumped considerably following the market drop in the first quarter of the year.

As reported in April, Perlin, which had already been involved in blockchain pilots for various major businesses, including Asia Pacific Rayon, began work with the International Chamber of Commerce as the organization attempts to bring innovative technologies to the fore. The ICC is the world’s largest business organization with 45 million businesses under its wing, including Amazon, CocaCola, FedEx, McDonalds and PayPal.

The partnership is set to take various forms, but specifically focusеs on value chain traceability — tracking goods through their stages of production and delivery.

Philippines-Based UnionBank Completes Blockchain Remittances Pilot

Philippines-Based UnionBank Completes Blockchain Remittances Pilot

The Philippines-based UnionBank has successfully completed a pilot of a blockchain-based cross-border remittance from the Philippines to Singapore.

The Philippines-based UnionBank has successfully completed a pilot of a blockchain-based cross-border remittance from the Philippines to Singapore, according to a press release published on July 23.

The pilot is the result of a partnership between UnionBank and Singapore-based OCBC Bank, wherein the parties deployed the Adhara liquidity management and international payments platform and UnionBank-UBX’s i2i platform to make the remittance. 

To ensure financial inclusion for the unbanked

Specifically, the bank used a blockchain-based tokenized fiat to remit from OCBC Bank to an account holder at a rural Cantilan Bank. The project thus aims to provide millions of unbanked Filipinos with the ability to use financial services by connecting rural banks to the country’s main financial network.

Melchor Plabasan, officer-in-charge at the technology risk and innovation supervision department of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas — the country’s central bank —- said that the agency anticipates further adoption of blockchain as the technology streamlines payments and remittances. Arvie de Vera, UnionBank senior vice president and head of the fintech business group, said:

“With the pilot’s use of i2i, rural banks can now receive direct-to-account remittances, and this is only the beginning. With this connected platform, other value added services can now be made accessible to rural banks. This empowers rural banks that were once financially excluded, with access to universal banking services.”

In April, Bitspark, a blockchain-based bankless money transfer solution, announced that it will release a cryptocurrency pegged to the Philippine peso for money transfers dubbed “peg.PHP.” Consumers will purportedly be able to pay their bills with the stablecoin in the form of a cash deposit at one of the shops in Bitspark’s network.

Huobi Transitions From Current HUSD System to New ERC-20 Token

Huobi Transitions From Current HUSD System to New ERC-20 Token

In the coming days, Huobi will change over from its current HUSD system to the new ERC-20 token.

Huobi cryptocurrency exchange will transition its HUSD token from its current stablecoin system to an ERC-20 token through a partnership with crypto startups Stable Universal Limited and Paxos Trust Company.

Per a press release published on July 17, Stable Universal will develop a new ERC-20 HUSD Token, which will be pegged to the United States dollar and held in reserve by the New York State Department of Financial Services-regulated custodian Paxos. Huobi will be the first platform to list HUSD Token.

In the coming days, Huobi will change over from its current HUSD system to the new ERC-20 token, which will subsequently be available on other cryptocurrency exchanges, wallets and platforms.

Throughout the process, Stable Universal will let users purchase HUSD on a one-for-one basis for U.S. dollars, while Paxos will manage the Know Your Customer and Anti-Money Laundering procedures for account openings on Stable Universal. Additionally, Stable Universal will work with third parties to conduct smart contract audits and on-chain transaction monitoring.

Richmond Teo, Paxos co-founder and CEO of Paxos Asia, said that “we are proud to now offer trust-as-a-service to power HUSD Token, a new stablecoin for Huobi Global. This is a new model that allows other innovators to create safe, trusted and fully-backed solutions that support wider crypto-market adoption for cash and assets using our unique regulated status.”

In late June, Huobi announced that it will be moving aggressively to the Turkish market over the next 12 months, since the country has a “very important and promising prospective market.”