Major Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange Huobi has gained a so-called Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) license in Gibraltar, a press release shared with Cointelegraph confirmed Dec. 5.

Huobi, which is leveraging the U.K. territory’s encouraging regulatory perspective on the cryptocurrency industry, will use its new status to launch an international platform geared to both retail and institutional traders, the release states, stating:

“The new license gives Huobi the authority to store and transmit digital assets on behalf of clients worldwide.”

In so doing, it will compete with fellow exchanges including BinanceBittrex and Coinbase in serving traders in as many jurisdictions as possible as regulatory frameworks continue to evolve.

Last week saw Huobi launch a derivatives market in the U.S.

“It’s no secret that we think that well-designed regulatory regimes are a key part of the future for the cryptocurrency industry,” head of global international business Lester Haoda Li commented in the press release:

“Among other benefits, our [Distributed Ledger Technology] license will allow us to open doors to more institutional investors who were previously unable or unwilling to get involved in an unregulated sphere.”

Huobi hopes to debut its service in the first half of 2019.

“To kick things off, we are launching with [over the counter] services but we have no intentions of stopping there,” Li added.

Huobi is currently the world’s third largest exchange by daily trade volume, seeing about $466 million in trades over the past 24 hours.

Gibraltar is fast catching up with permissive European counterpart Malta in luring cryptocurrency businesses to its shores.

The blockchain platform from Gibraltar’s stock exchange also gained regulatory approval this month, while state-sponsored initiatives are also hoping to address the demand for blockchain-related skills.

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The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, has announced that it will host the company’s first conference, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph Dec. 6.

Binance Blockchain Week is scheduled to be held in Singapore this January and is to include two major events –– the conference itself, along with a two-day “first-ever Binance SAFU (Secured Assets For Users) Hackathon,” according to the press release. As its name indicates, the hackathon reportedly focuses on developing blockchain-based tools for securing crypto assets.

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, better known as CZ in the industry, underlines that the firm has chosen Singapore as they consider it “the finance and technology hub of Asia.” CZ also added that the conference will feature the “most notable players and thought leaders in blockchain.”

Earlier this week, Binance announced plans to “help [the] advancement of the industry” by launching its own blockchain, “Binance Chain,” in the “coming months.”  The same day, the industry giant revealed a second preview of its forthcoming decentralized exchange (DEX), as a part of the newly announced Binance Chain initiative.

In October the crypto exchange also revealed the establishment of the Blockchain Charity Foundation (BCF) during the World Investment Forum, hosted by the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Just last month, BlockShow also held a blockchain conference in Singapore, which saw 2,800 attendees and hosted more than 50 speakers and panelists.

This post credited to cointelegraph Image source: Cointelegraph

Enterprise Singapore, a government agency set up to develop the startup ecosystem, is supporting a new blockchain accelerator program called Tribe Accelerator.

Announced Tuesday by TRIVE Ventures, an early stage Southeast Asia-focused venture capital firm based in Singapore, the accelerator is being launched in partnership South Korea’s ICON Foundation, as a technical partner, and PwC Singapore’s Venture Hub.

Seeking to drive widespread adoption of blockchain technology across Asia, Tribe Accelerator aims to help startups achieve “real-world applicability and impact” beyond technical considerations like smart contracts and interoperability.

It further aims to provide a platform for traditional enterprises and government agencies to work alongside the upcoming blockchain projects.

“As the accelerator targets later stage startups past their Series A funding rounds, Tribe will offer significantly more value as it provides startups with access to its network of governmental and business mentors, technical support, technical talent and ultimately gain global exposure, which will help incubated startups translate their blockchain concepts into real products,” TRIVE partner Ng Yi Ming told CoinDesk.

The program is scheduled to officially launch in early 2019, the firm said, adding that, for the first batch of companies, it will not take equity or charge a participation fee.

“By working with Tribe Accelerator, we hope to create more innovative and disruptive blockchain startups to capture growth opportunities locally and overseas,” said Jonathan Lim, Enterprise Singapore’s director of startup and global innovation alliance, in an announcement.

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A new cryptocurrency hedge fund called Circuit Capital is launching in January. Based in San Francisco and Singapore, the fund has four founders, including a former Deutsche Bank AG trader and a private equity analyst.

While it’s curious timing to create an investment opportunity based on a cryptocurrency market that’s recently lost 70% of its value, Circuit’s founders disagree.

According to a Bloomberg report, Eugene Ng, ex-Deutsche Bank derivatives trader and Circuit co-founder, says,

“Despite what is happening with prices, we’re seeing adoption growing and a lot of people are looking to scale crypto businesses. We are starting to see talent moving into this space and institutional infrastructure developing.”

To gauge these developments, Circuit is developing an index that measures blockchain technology-backed digital assets. The metrics will follow 10 data points, including

  • Transaction volume
  • Number of active crypto wallets
  • Hash rates
  • Web searches for articles on crypto
  • Hiring of technology and financial professionals in the industry
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Ng will oversee the fund’s Asian business with former Tikehau Capital analyst Aaron Tay. Bo Nam and Richard Jahnke, two former technology stock analysts turned venture capitalists, will manage Circuit’s US operations.

According to Nam, Circuit seeks to raise $30 million by its first-quarter launch with investment capital gradually increasing to over $100 million. While $100 million may seem like a small amount for most macro hedge funds, he says it’s a significant amount for the crypto market.

Andreessen Horowitz launched their $300-million crypto fund a16z earlier this year. Paradigm, a crypto fund recently launched by Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam, former Sequoia Capital partner Matt Huang and Charles Noyes of crypto fund Pantera Capital, just raised $400 million.

Pantera, founded by former Goldman Sachs trader Dan Morehead, is also reportedly on track to raise $100 million of its $175-million target for its third fund, despite the bear market. The fund recently disclosed raising $71.45 million in a new round of funding.

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Cybersecurity company Recorded Future has released a lengthy expose claiming that North Korea uses cryptocurrency to skirt U.S.-imposed economic sanctions alongside a shady network of collaborators and enablers in Singapore.

The company claims that in addition to mining coins like bitcoin and monero, North Korean leaders have also been involved in promoting cryptocurrency scams that have bilked investors around the world of millions of dollars.

North Korea’s Technology-Backed Evasion of Sanctions

North Korea’s use of cutting edge technology to get around the effects of economic sanctions imposed on Kim Jong Un’s regime is well documented. In September, CCN reported that Washington-based financial experts Lourdes Miranda and Ross Delston accused North Korea of using crypto mining and coin scams as means of generating revenue. Earlier this month, CCN also reported that a notorious North Korean hacker group called “Lazarus” is responsible for the theft of more than $571 million in cryptocurrency.

The Recorded Future report claims that North Korean leaders mine bitcoin and monero at a relatively small scale, with the bulk of their efforts in the cryptocurrency space from the first quarter of 2018 to date now focused on exploiting growing worldwide crypto awareness for the purpose of launching investment scams. Two coins in particular are identified as North Korean scam projects, namely HOLD coin and Marine Chain.

HOLD Coin, also previously known as Interstellar, HUZU and Stellar (not to be confused with XLM) used a fraudulent staking scheme to collect investor money, having been variously listed and delisted across a number of exchanges before disappearing with all funds.

Marine Chain on the other hand, was part of a more sophisticated scam that runs right to the heart of the North Korean government’s ability to consistently diminish the effectiveness of UN-imposed economic sanctions that would ordinarily cripple the regime. Billed as a tokenisation framework for maritime vessels, an investigation by Recorded Future into Marine Chain revealed a complex network linked to Singapore with potentially far-reaching implications for cybersecurity in Southeast Asia.

The Singaporean Connection

According to information gleaned from LinkedIn, an advisor called HyoMong Choi and the CEO of Marine Chain, Captain Jonathan Foong Kah Keong are the key figres in Marince Chain’s fradulent activities. Capt. Foong reportedly has connections to Singaporean companies that facilitate North Korean activities designed to circumvent U.N. sanctions. Activities these companies have been involved in include manipulating flag registries for three countries to give prohibited North Korean vessels the ability to sail under flags of convenience.

This means that more than just being a run-of-the-mill cryptocurrency scammer, Capt. Foong is actually part of the key strategy employed by the North Korean regime to skirt sanctions that should ordinarily make it the most isolated regime on earth, and keep itself in power. The appearance of Capt. Foong in the context of North Korean crypto scams is significant of a wider pivot in the regime’s criminal activities as it looks to harness the possibilities presented by a new wave of technology including blockchain technology.

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Ravi Menon, the chief of Singapore’s defacto central bank and regulator, has backed domestic cryptocurrency startups and exchanges to gain banking services in the technology-forward city-state.

Monetary Institute of Singapore (MAS) managing director Ravi Menon has called for the banking industry to get over the “hurdle” of offering services to domestic cryptocurrency startups in a marked attempt to foster the fintech industry.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Menon said that while Singapore will not be “an extremely lax regulatory environment” for crypto industry firms locally and beyond, there could be respite coming for startups who have banks reluctant to offer simple banking services like opening banking accounts.

The central bank official stated:

What we are trying to do is to bring the banks and cryptocurrency fintech startups together to see if there is some understanding they can reach.

The embracive, if cautious, approach is a significant contrast to the likes of India, wherein the central bank forced all regulated financial institutions – including banks – to cease offering services to cryptocurrency firms. The Indian central bank’s move has largely dented the industry, leading to the closure of one of India’s biggest cryptocurrency exchanges recently.

For a senior central bank official, Menon has ruled out regulation for decentralized open cryptocurrencies like bitcoin in the past, insisting that bitcoin “itself does not pose the risk that warrants regulation”.

“Our approach is to look at the activity around the cryptocurrency and then make an assessment of what regulation would be suitable,” he said last year, calling for oversight into activities that could abuse cryptocurrencies.

As cryptocurrency markets touched an all-time high earlier in January, driven by a bull-run through much of 2017, Menon sought to bring attention to the “good applications” of cryptocurrencies citing cheap, real-time, international remittance as an example.

“I do hope when the fever has gone away, when the crash has happened, it will not undermine the much deeper, and more meaningful technology associated with digital currencies and blockchain,” Menon saidearlier this year.

The permissive ecosystem has seen Upbit, South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, establish a new cryptocurrency exchange in Singapore last month. Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, also announced plans to launch a fiat cryptocurrency exchange in Singapore.

This post credited to ccn Featured image from YouTube/MAS.

Binance is set to unveil a fiat currency exchange that will be based in Singapore. This was revealed by CEO Changpeng Zhao over the weekend while speaking at the Cumberland Summit, a blockchain event in Singapore. Zhao further revealed that the new exchange is currently under an invitation-only beta testing phase.

After making the announcement during his speech on September 15, Zhao also posted it on his twitter account where he also revealed that it will begin beta testing on September 18, 2018.

CZ Binance

@cz_binance

I just slipped that we will begin Singapore fiat exchange live money closed beta testing on Sept 18th, in 3 days. Invitation only first. Exciting!

Justin Chow@Justinchow08

Day 2: @JamesRadecki32 starting off breakout #2 with @tylerwinklevoss and @cz_binance on crypto exchanges. @GeminiDotCom @tylerwinklevoss @ApoloOhno @arrington @TusharJain_ @MatthewRoszak @missbitcoin_mai #cumberlandsummit #crypto #bitcoin

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Fiat Exchanges and Singapore

Thus far, very few details have been provided about the operational framework of the new fiat exchange, but there is speculation that it will likely offer Singapore dollar trading pairs. Fiat to fiat exchanges are still a relative novelty in the crypto world, and they remain largely untested in the “wild”. From a Binance point of view, opening a fiat exchange improves its users’ experience by enabling them to seamlessly convert across several fiat currencies and then make transactions directly from the exchange account using the new currency. Even more significantly, fiat to fiat exchanges generally offer users interbank exchange rates as against retail exchange rates, which means that users get more for their money.

Binance’s choice of Singapore for this experiment is not without precedent, as over the past few years Singapore has become one of the global crypto industry’s major hubs alongside South Korea, Hong Kong, Malta and the USA. The island state has moved toward the epicentre of global crypto innovation in part because of its relatively relaxed regulatory environment and its booming economy, often described as one of the “Asian Tigers”.

Singaporean authorities do not regulate crypto exchanges because crypto is not recognised as legal tender in the country, but exchanges are nonetheless required to abide by AML and CFT regulations.

Binance Continues Expanding

Often described as the world’s largest crypto exchange by volume, Binance has enjoyed a red letter year despite prevailing crypto market conditions. Following a blanket ban on crypto trading in China, the company has embarked on an aggressive global expansion drive, opening up in Malta, Jersey, South Korea, Uganda and Liechtenstein.

The company recently outlined its strategy for expanding across Africa, which some see as the crypto world’s last frontier with potential for unparalleled adoption due to its relatively underdeveloped financial systems. With a daily trading volume that regularly approaches $1 billion, the exchange boasts of market-leading liquidity for a large number of trading pairs.


This post credited to ccn Featured image from Shutterstock.