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Digital Currency and Blockchain Weekly Round-Up – August 23rd, 2019

Fri, 23 Aug 2019, 12:28 pm UTC

Cryptocurrencies used to buy fentanyl, other illicit drugs: White House
The White House has issued two advisories to warn that major cryptocurrencies are being used to buy fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. The advisories, addressed to financial institutions and digital private sector platforms, stated that “convertible virtual currencies” (CVC), including bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ethereum, and monero, are being used to purchase illegal substances in the dark web.

US Treasury blacklists crypto addresses of suspected Chinese fentanyl traffickers
The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has blacklisted several digital currency addresses that allegedly belonged to three Chinese nationals suspected money laundering and drug smuggling. OFAC identified Xiaobing Yan, Fujing Zheng, and Guanghua Zheng as narcotics trafficker under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act in a press release.

Indian Supreme Court grills RBI for cryptocurrency banking ban
India’s Supreme Court has criticized the country’s central bank and ordered it to respond to complaints on the ban of banking services to crypto-related businesses. The news came following the latest session of several hearings on Aug. 21, detailing the action taken by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

China may launch its central bank digital currency ahead of Facebook's cryptocurrency Libra
The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) is close to releasing its own government-backed digital currency, according to China Daily. The report further revealed that the upcoming central bank digital currency (CBDC) may have been inspired by Facebook’s cryptocurrency Libra.

Israeli regulator seeks to expedite licensing procedures for fintech and blockchain firms
The Capital Market Authority of Israel is seeking to fast track the licensing procedures for domestic fintech companies in order to encourage competition in the local market, Calcalist reported. The Capital Market Authority intends to prioritize blockchain and financial technology. As such, it has set up dedicated industry teams with fintech and blockchain experts for reviewing the applications and expediting the licensing process.

Sierra Leone launches blockchain-based National Digital Identity Platform
Kiva, a San Francisco-based non-profit organization, has announced the launch of Africa’s first blockchain-based and decentralized identity platform. Dubbed the National Digital Identity Platform (NDIP), the platform has been developed in partnership with the Government of Sierra Leone, the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Facebook's Libra to be discussed as U.S. delegates visit Switzerland
Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency will be discussed as a delegation of the U.S. House of Representatives will pay a visit to Switzerland in the coming days. According to local media outlet Soontag, six members of the House of Financial Services Committee will be meeting Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner Adrian Lobsiger to exchange their views on digital currencies, particularly Libra.

Insights

  • 97% of South Korean crypto exchanges on the verge of bankruptcy; blockchain startups now want to go overseas: Report

Company News

  • Stablecoin project Terra receives funding from HashKey Capital
  • Blockchain startup Blockstack scores strategic investment from Japan's Recruit Holdings
  • Blockchain startup Blocko secures $7.4M in Series B+ round from major South Korean financial institutions
  • Blockchain CRM startup Cere Network scores $3.5M funding from Binance Labs, Arrington XRP Capital
  • Digital securities platform Securitize becomes SEC-registered transfer agent
  • Blockchain securities issuance platform iownit.us obtains approval from FINRA
  • Philippines' central bank approves 2 new cryptocurrency exchanges
  • INX Limited eyes $129.5M IPO, marking the first SEC-registered security token sale
  • Cryptopia customers did not have individual wallets; Grant Thornton to manually determine crypto ownership
  • Former Zaif exchange owner Tech Bureau to discontinue crypto business after completing customer refunds
  • Korean crypto exchange Prixbit shuts down over financial crisis
  • Malta-based crypto exchange CGEX to shut down after less than a year of operation
  • New York court denies Bitfinex, Tether's lack of jurisdiction claim

Partnerships/Consortiums

Digital Currency Initiatives

  • Bank of America files patent for multi-tiered crypto wallet
  • Austrian telecom giant A1 to offer cryptocurrency payment option
  • Pundi X brings XPOS crypto payments to Venezuela's Traki retail stores
  • Crypto exchange Coincheck mulls launching IEO Platform
  • Silvergate Bank reveals plans to offer crypto-backed loans this year
  • Rakuten Wallet launches crypto spot trading service and Android app
  • Bakkt to launch custody and bitcoin futures on September 23
  • Binance seeks to empower countries to spur new currencies via new open blockchain project ‘Venus’

Blockchain Initiatives

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Samsung maintains crypto support in soon-to-launch Galaxy S20
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BIS appoints Innovation Hub heads to lead Singapore and Switzerland
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